Cell biology and Biotechnology


Dr José Ignacio Ibeas Corcelles
Principal Investigator

Five relevant publications
Lab members & Collaborators

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Fungal and yeast biotechnology
Identification and analysis of new targets in plant pathogenic fungi
Plant pathogenic fungi share the ability to alter their growth form depending on the stage of infection they are in (yeast-like, filament, formation of specialized penetration structures, spores, etc.). These developmental changes are accompanied by the secretion of proteins that interact with the host to prevent detection or avoid their proliferation. This constant change in behaviour of the fungus during the infectious process must be highly regulated. In our laboratory, we study the proteins used by plant pathogenic fungi to infect, as well as the mechanisms they employ to regulate their expression and control the different changes in their development during the infectious process. For this purpose, we use the model organism Ustilago maydis, a maize pathogen that causes what is known as corn smut. The combined use of molecular biology techniques for microbial genome editing, Mass Spectrometry, RNA-seq, and ChIP (Chromatin Immunoprecipitation) among others, in combination with cellular biology techniques such as fluorescence microscopy, have allowed us to determine the essential role of protein glycosylation in the infection process and allowed us to identify and characterize several glycoproteins involved in plant infection. Moreover, we could determine the role of chromatin modification, specifically histone acetylation, in the infectious process. Currently, we are studying new systems through which plant pathogenic fungi control infection and characterizing new proteins involved in host interaction. Many of these mechanisms are conserved among fungi, so the results obtained using U. maydis as a model organism can be transferred to other plant pathogenic fungi and even animal pathogens.


Study of the biodiversity of wine and beer yeasts
Yeast plays an essential role in the final quality of fermented beverages, especially wine and beer. Although strains of yeast isolated from these fermentations are currently known to confer specific organoleptic characteristics to the beverage, in recent years there has been a resurgence in demand for new unique strains, sometimes with territorial characteristics, others where the enhancement of certain aroma or flavor predominates in the final product, for use in wineries and mainly in microbreweries. In our laboratory, we have been studying the genetic peculiarities of these yeasts for years and studying the biodiversity of strains present in the production of fine wine. We are currently moving into the world of beer, where we are systematically searching for new local strains with brewing interest. For this purpose, we have created two research platforms, a robotic platform for the manipulation and characterization of multiple isolates simultaneously and a research microbrewery, capable of producing 500 L of beer to test the selected yeasts.



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