Welcome to the webpage of the Molecular Genetics of Plant-Environment Interactions (Alcazar Lab) at the Department of Biology, Healthcare & Environment of the University of Barcelona.
We're a recently created research group that investigates the adaptation of plants to local environments. We focus on the evolutionary adaptation of plant populations to abiotic and biotic stresses, which are major challenges for plant survival under the current climate change predictions. Derived from our research, we investigate ways for improving stress protection.
For a more detailed view of our research, please have a look at our Research Projects and Scientific Publications sections. You can follow an updated list of our activities and publications in the NEWS section below. For any other enquires, do not hesitate to contact us directly.
XXII Meeting of the Spanish Society of Plant Physiology, BCN 2017 26-29 June
Info currently available in the following languages:
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1. MOLECULAR EVOLUTION OF DISEASE RESISTANCE IN PLANTS
In our lab, we make use of the extensive natural variation of Arabidopsis thaliana populations to answer key fundamental questions:
- How plants adapt to local environments including the microbiota?
- How plants maintain variability of genes involved in pathogen recognition and to which extent this variability is caused by the interaction with pathogens?
- How the environment manipulates immune responses? How this affects the above points?
To address these and other questions, we (and others) developed a new model for plant immunity studies based on the use of Arabidopsis immune-related incompatible hybrids. These are hybrids obtained by crosses of natural Arabidopsis accessions that exhibit constitutive activation of defense, stunted growth and sterility in the absence of pathogen challenge. Often, such phenotypes are temperature-dependent and suppressed at high temperature.
These genetic interactions might unravel molecular partners required for proper modulation of defense. Some of these cases are background-dependent and therefore, likely difficult to be observed in classical reference accessions.
Since some years, we're using the Ler / Kas-2 immune-related hybrid incompatibility as molecular model to answer some of the questions above. The Landsberg (from Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland)/Kashmir-2 (from Kashmir mountains) incompatibility involves populations in Central Europe and Central Asia which enable to expand our analyses to population scales. We apply population genetics on top of our molecular and biochemical analyses.
Derived from our research, we attempt to provide new strategies for crop protection at medium to long-term.
2. Polyamines and plant stress protection
Polyamines are small amines present in living organisms. Polyamines are essential for cell viability and have co-evolved and participate in developmental and stress signalling pathways. We’re interested to know how polyamines exert their functions in plants, with a focus on stress tolerance. For this, we’re applying modern genetics, genomics and evolutionary biology. Our final goal is to provide new strategies for crop protection against different types of stress. Read our latest publication on this topic here. Most cited review (>450 times) here
LATEST NEWS 28.11.2016 Master offer just posted. Check out link for details. 
Publications 2016 15/03/2016 In Frontiers Plant Sci: GWAS analysis for Arabidopsis guazatine tolerance 22/01/2016 In Plant Cell & Environment: tSpm triggers salinity tolerance in Arabidopsis 01/02/2016 In Frontiers Plant Sci: Metabolic profiling of atpao4 mutants under dark induced senescence In press: Drought Stress Tolerance in Relation to Polyamine Metabolism in Plants, book chapter in Springer.
ACADEMIC PRESS RELEASES
Alcázar Lab work highlighted by the University of Barcelona 20.01.15
Rubén Alcázar research highlighted by the Faculty of Pharmacy at UB, January 2015
Alcázar Lab work highlighted by the Bulletin of the Spanish Society of Plant Physiology, SEFV. January, 2015
PLoS Genet 2014 highlight by Max Planck Institute, Cologne. 11.12.14.
Arabidopsis semidwarfs: the green revolution in nature 02.12.2013. University of Barcelona.
Hybrid plants with over-reactive immune system 17.11.2010. Max Planck Society.
Rubén Alcázar is Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Department of Natural Products, Plant Biology and Soil Science of the University of Barcelona.
Research in Alcázar Lab is supported by:
- 7th Framework Programme. Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (DISEASENVIRON, PCIG10-GA-2011-303568) of the European Union.
- Ramón y Cajal Program (RYC-2011-07847) of the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spain).
- BFU2013-41337-P grant of the Programa Estatal de Fomento de la Investigación Científica y Técnica de Excelencia (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain).