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Arantza Rico

  • phD
  • 11PublicationsNumber of items in Arantza's My Publications folder on Mendeley.
  • 8Followers

Research interests

Molecular and physiological aspects of plant-pathogen interactions Genetic characterization of bacteria

About

I did my degree on Agricultural Engineering specializing in Horticulture. The degree offered a very comprehensive knowledge package on many areas of agriculture but I was soon motivated towards the research and lab-oriented side of my degree and was driven by the possibilities that research would offer to respond to some of the challenges facing agriculture. I decided to do a PhD on two bacterial pathogens of great importance in some crops in Spain at the laboratory of Prof. Jesús Murillo in Pamplona. First, I characterised the Spanish population of the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora, a destructive disease of rosaceous plants, which includes apple and pear crops. The efficient control of this pathogen is very difficult once it is established in a particular area, hence the importance of having reliable diagnostic methods and to understand the origin and ways of dispersion of the disease. We published several papers on genetic characterization of the bacterial strains including AFLP and rep-PCR fingerpriting, which allowed us to design strain-specific molecular markers and establish the multiple geographical origins of the disease in Spain. Secondly, I studied a group of Spanish strains of the halo blight pathogen of beans, Pseudomonas syringae pv, phaseolicola, and discovered that the majority of the strains that caused epidemics in Spain, lacked a toxin-encoding gene cluster that is used as the main diagnostic tool for the detection of the pathogen in asymptomatic tissue and seed lots. At the end of my PhD I embarked on a post-doctoral stay at Dr Gail Preston's lab in Plant Sciences, Oxford. My work was focused on Pseudomonas syringae, which is able to infect a wide variety of hosts, including the model plant Arabidopsis, and makes it a useful model pathosystem where questions regarding the molecular basis of the interaction, both from the bacterium and plant perspective, can be addressed thanks to the availability of sequenced genomes. We have developed a phenotypic assay based on the ability of P. syringae to grow in apoplastic fluid and demonstrated that the nutrient utilisation abilities of P. syringae correspond to nutrients available in plant tissues, specifically in the plant apoplast. The study of the role of the apoplast environment on P. syringae adaptation and pathogenicity is an innovative and a unique area of research, which was highlighted by the editor of Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions when we published our work in that journal. Some of the physiological changes occurring in infected plants are related to nitrogen metabolism. In collaboration with researchers from The National Centre for Plant and Microbial Metabolomics (Rothamsted Research) we are assessing the metabolic changes occurring in infected tomato and Arabidopsis plants. Following into this, I will also assess the effect of nitrogen fertilization on plant susceptibility to P. syringae using a wide range of approaches including metabolomics and transcriptomics. Another area of particular interest is the study of plant defence responses to pathogens and the hormone cross-talk during this process. Some of this work, which has been recently published in PloS ONE, dealt with the study of plant defence responses to the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which is widely used in genetic modification of plants.

Following (6)

Recent publications

  • The metabolic interface between Pseudomonas syringae and plant cells.

    • Rico A
    • McCraw S
    • Preston G
    N/AReaders
    N/ACitations
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  • Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola can be separated into two genetic lineages distinguished by the possession of the phaseolotoxin biosynthetic cluster

    • Oguiza J
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    N/ACitations
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Professional experience

Postdoctoral Researcher

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford

November 2004 - December 2009(5 years)

Profesora Ayudante

Departamento de Producción Agraria/Universidad Pública de Navarra

September 2002 - October 2004(2 years)

Education

PhD

Departamento de Producción Agraria/Universidad Pública de Navarra

January 1999 - December 2003(5 years)

Ingeniería Agrónoma

Universitat de Lleida - Lleida University

September 1994 - September 1997(3 years)