Adaptive response analysis using genomic and transcriptomic studies
The transcriptome is the total of all the readings (RNA) of the genes present in an organism, tissue or cell. Transcriptomic analyses can identify which genes are expressed differently in individuals subjected to different conditions. This information is essential to carry out the characterization of candidate genes that have still not been researched in conifers, or even genes that have still not been described int these species.
Our group conducts comparisons between transcriptomes to study the adaptive responses of forest species. We analyze the responses of trees to different types of stress such as the associated to drought, increased CO2 concentrations or susceptibility to certain pathogens.
- In maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) we have observed that the most drought tolerant individuals we have analyzed are pre-adapted to deal with the stress in a more efficient way. They have a set of genes related to the response to water stress that are being expressed constitutively. In the susceptible trees, however, these genes can be detected only in advanced stages of the stress response.
- Communication between roots and aerial part is a key point in the response to stresses such as water stress. To deepen this knowledge, we compare the transcriptomes of roots and needles of maritime pines grafted on rootstocks with different sensitivity to water stress.
- By combining genomic and transcriptomic analysis strategies and linkage mapping we have identified the regions of the eucalyptus genome (Eucalyptus globulus) regulating two limiting traits for its cultivation: rooting ability and tolerance to the Mycosphaerella leaf disease (MLD).
Adaptive response analysis using epigenetic studies
Epigenetic modifications are marks on DNA that can be added or removed determining how and to what esttent genes must be expressed. Therefore, they are a primary factor in the regulation of the adaptability of living organisms.
Our research group carry out studies to know the levels of epigenetic variability of different forest species. We analyze DNA methylation, the expression and transport of microRNAs and the modification of histones in order to understand their evolution in different organs, throughout development and during responses to variations in their environment, as the case of drought.
Structure of the coniferous genome
The availability of the reference genome of a species (a reference sequence of the genome of that species) is a key point for its genomic and functional analysis, since facilitates the assembly and comparison of the sequences obtained in other studies.
Maritime pine (P. pinaster) genome is seven times larger than that of humans and contains a very high proportion of repeat regions. This represents a challenge for current sequencing strategies and platforms.
Our group co-leads the sequencing of the reference genome for maritime pine within the framework of an international consortium and participates in its functional analysis, running comparisons with other conifers.
Traceability of forest species
The illegally harvested timber trade is a global problem with significant environmental, economic and social implications. In many cases, to combat the commercialization of wood products from illegal logging, is necessary to determine the species and / or geographical origin of the wood supervised by the Authorities.
The Genomics of Forest Species group is part of the INIA Wood Species Identification Service. This service actively collaborates with thenSpanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the application of the European Timber Regulation (EUTR), by validating the declared species of the timber under investigation by the Authorities in their controls.
We are developing genotyping tools for the traceability or discrimination of a series of priority forest species, either because of their commercial interest or because they are threatened. We use genomic and transcriptomic approaches that allow us to: i) transfer information from nearby model species; ii) or generate the necessary knowledge when this transfer is not possible.