Climate change is causing more extreme weather patterns and increasing challenges for plants, in general, and for agriculture in particular, due to both biotic and abiotic stresses. Metabolic reprograming is one of the mechanisms plants use to respond to stresses, and L-serine (Ser) is one of the metabolites that consistently increases in response to many of them. Thus Ser is thought to play a role in plant response to biotic and abiotic stresses, although the involved molecular mechanisms are completely unknown. Ser is essential for sulfur metabolism, and some crucial metabolites for plant response to biotic and abiotic stresses contain [glutathione, phytochelatins, glucosinolates] or require organic sulfur [Abscisic acid (ABA)] in their biosynthetic processes. In our group, we are studying the role of Ser in the plant response to environmental stresses mainly under climate-change conditions. In plants, Ser is synthesized by several pathways, mainly the Glycolate Pathway of Ser Biosynthesis (GPSB), associated with photorespiration and the Phosphorylated Pathway of Ser Biosynthesis (PPSB), which is shared by mammals and plants. Under high CO2 conditions, the Ser steady-state pools are reduced because GPSB activity diminishes, and thus the plant capacity to respond to stress could be impaired. However, the PPSB is induced under high CO2, and also with some biotic and abiotic stresses.
The general objective of our work is to study the role of Ser biosynthetic pathways the plant metabolism and in the response to biotic and abiotic stresses under conditions that simulate climate change. Phenomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics are used in mutants and overexpressing lines of enzymes from Ser biosynthetic pathways to provide relevant information about how these pathways function when facing stresses, and also about their primary targets and their regulation.
The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is used in our research as a proof-of-concept approach, but studies are also be extended to Zea mays, a plant of agronomic interest with reduced GPSB activity due to its C4 photosynthetic metabolism, and Brassica oleracea genotypes, selected for their high level of glucosinolates.
The Universitat de Valencia (UV) is among the 300 best in the world according to the most updated ranking of Shanghai (ARWU 2019) and is among the five best in Spain. The UV is the best in Spain in five subjects, being the third in Biological Sciences, and the fourth in Biotechnology. The UV has a Doctoral School (http://www.uv.es/escola-doctorat) with several doctoral training programs. To be emphasized the PhD program in Biomedicine and Biotechnology, accredited by Spanish Scientific Evaluation Agency and verified by the Ministry of Education. Our group’s research activity is integrated into BIOTECMED. This structure is formed by multidisciplinary groups encompassed in four main areas: Biotechnology and Plant Metabolism, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Yeasts, Biotechnology of Microorganisms in Food, and Cellular and Molecular Biology in Biomedicine. Regarding techniques and methods, our laboratory has expertise in various techniques in the fields of genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, metabolomics, transcriptomics and genomics, including enzymatic and metabolite measurements, cloning and plant transformation, mutant isolation and characterization (Arabidopsis, yeast and maize), transcriptomics and metabolomics data integration, β-glucuronidase assays, RNASeq data analyses, protein and mineral content determinations, confocal and electron microscopy, statistics and phylogenetic analyses, sequencing and genotyping, etc.