Plant Cell Biotechnology
Our aim is to develop molecular strategies to support plant selection and breeding programs, to apply biotechnology to the development of company’s strategies and to train researchers in plant biotechnology and plant molecular biology.
Manuel Pedro Salema Fevereiro
Phone (+351) 214469447
Humanity depends on primary production to survive. To guarantee the production and productivity of food and renewable materials we need crops varieties, commodities and forest trees adjusted to the ever changing edafo-climatic conditions.
Our laboratory uses and develops molecular tools to shorten the time needed to identify desired genotypes in selection or breeding programs and to alter a specific genotype to cope with a specific challenge: a disease or an environmental stress. To select a new trait, or to identify a modification, we must understand the characteristics of the varieties from which we depart. Also, we need to understand how different crops respond to specific environmental conditions. For that we characterize the physiological and molecular responses of the varieties under study. Also we need to know how the allelic variants of genes influencing a specific characteristic are spread in populations.
We utilize genomic - DNA arrays, qRT-PCR, Genotyping (SNPs and SSRs) and Southern and northern blots - and proteomic - 2D electrophoresis and Mass spectrometry - tools to identify genes and alleles involved in plant adaptation to specific conditions and to understand the regulations of their expression either at the transcriptional or at the post-transcriptional level. We employ in vitro culture and DNA recombinant technologies - cloning, sequencing and genetic transformation - to modify the expression of genes or to introduce new genes in specific crops.
We have a special interest in legumes and their adaptation to environmental conditions. We take advantage of Medicago truncatula as a model plant and we apply our knowledge to the study of traditional grain legumes. Attention is also being given to grapevine and olive, aiming the analysis of molecular diversity of cultivated and wild populations as well as the association of phenotypic and genotypic markers through linkage disequilibrium analysis.
The laboratory holds two specific groups, one dealing with quantitative plant genetics and the other dealing with woody plants genomics.
The leader of the Quantitative Plant Genetics group is Doctor Carlota Vaz Patto (Auxiliary Researcher ITQB - Ciência 2008).
This group develops research on quantitative genetics applied to plant breeding. Within this group we are concerned with the identification of genes controlling complex agronomic traits (quantitative trait loci-QTLs), as resistance to biotic stresses (plant diseases), quality or other yield traits in legumes and cereals of national interest (such as grass pea, beans and maize). We are also involved with crop and wild relatives’ genetic diversity and comparative mapping of traits among them. Understanding the genetic basis of quantitative traits, which are notoriously hard to grasp by breeders, is at all times, beneficial to plant breeding. In addition, the identification of molecular markers that serve to tag genes or QTLs of interest helps to trace these genes and deliberately select for them, increasing efficiency and pace of breeding programs.
The leader of the Woody Plant Genomics group is Doctor Jorge Paiva (Invited Auxiliary Researcher from IICT - Ciência 2008). This group is establish under a cooperation between ITQB/IBET and the Forest and Forest Products Centre of IICT.
This group wants to provide new insights on the molecular mechanisms controlling secondary meristems (cambium / phellogen) differentiation in wood/cork formation, and wood/cork trait variation, in order to develop molecular tools to assist selection/improvement of important forest species (e.g. maritime pine, eucalypts, cork-oaks).
The vascular cambium (derived from procambium) plays a major role in the diametral growth of woody plants shoots and roots, ensuring the perennial life of trees through the regular renewing of functional xylem (wood) to the inside and phloem to the outside. Cork, the outer-bark of the cork-oak (Quercus suber) is formed by the division of the phellogen (“cork cambium”). Immature cork cells are parenchymatous with thin primary walls, but during maturation, a thick layer of suberin is deposited on the walls, finally resulting in the death of the cells. Phellogen is unique in its long-living and high activity, producing in about 10 years a thick layer (up to 5 cm) of a mostly homogeneous suberized tissues.
Finally, mainly through the cooperation with CiB (Center for Biotechnology Information – www.cibpt.org) we develop science communication strategies to explain Biotechnology to the public.
- Carlota Vaz Patto, Auxiliary Researcher
- Jorge Paiva, Invited Researcher
- Susana Araújo, Invited Researcher
- Helena Garcês, Post Doc
- Susana Neves, Post Doc
- Inês Trindade, PhD Student
- Matilde Cordeiro, PhD student
- Nuno Almeida, PhD student
- Pedro Moreira, PhD student
- Silvana Cardoso, PhD student
- Sofia Duque, PhD student
- Víctor Carocha, PhD student
- André Alcântara, Master student
- Miguel Ventosa, Master student
- Ricardo Barrela, Master student
- Clara Graça, research assistant (BI)
- Cláudio Capitão, research assistant (BI)
- Joana Amado, , research assistant (BI)
- Mara Alves, research assistant (BI)
- Susana Leitão, research assistant (BI)
- Leonor Tomaz, Technician
- Trindade I., Capitão C., Dalmay T., Fevereiro M.P., Santos D.M. (2010) miR398 and miR408 are up-regulated in response to water deficit in Medicago truncatula. Planta 231: 705-716.
- M. Confalonieri, M. Cammareri, E. Biazzi, P. Pecchia, M.P.S. Fevereiro, A. Balestrazzi, A. Tava, C. Conicella (2009) Enhanced triterpene sapogenin biosynthesis and root nodulation in transgenic barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) expressing a novel β-amyrin synthase (AsOXA1) gene. Plant Biotecnhology Journal 7 (2), 172-182
- Vaz Patto M.C., Rubiales D. (2009) Identification and characterization of partial resistance to rust in a germplasm collection of Lathyrus sativus L. Plant Breeding 128: 495-500
For further information please visit the laboratory's website
Usamos e desenvolvemos ferramentas moleculares para reduzir o tempo na identificação de plantas em programas de melhoramento e desenvolvemos métodos para modificar plantas para resistir a stresses ambientais. Para seleccionar uma característica nova, ou identificar uma modificação, precisamos compreender as características originais das variedades. Precisamos também compreender como as diferentes culturas respondem às condições ambientais. Para tal caracterizamos as respostas fisiológicas e moleculares das variedades em estudo. Também queremos saber como é que as variantes alélicas dos genes que influenciam uma determinada característica se distribuem nas populações. Das técnicas que utilizamos ressaltam as ferramentas genómicas – “chips” de DNA, qRT-PCR, genotipagem (SNPs eSSRs) e Southern e northern “blots” para identificar genes e alelos envolvidos na adaptação a condições específicas e para compreender a regulação da sua expressão, ao nível da sua transcrição e ao nível pós-transcripcional.