Dr Carmen Sanchez Canizares
The focus of my research is plant microbiology. Soil provides a diverse habitat for microorganisms, and among there are nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These soil microorganisms, called rhizobia, have the ability to associate with legume plants to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a biochemically usable form for the plants, mimicking the effect of chemical fertilisers and therefore, mitigating their use and improving the health of our soils, making legumes essential in crop rotation programs worldwide. To guarantee the success of these plant-microbe interactions and the cell survival, bacterial regulatory networks are tightly coordinated according to nutrient availability, and both biotic and abiotic factors.
My project studies bacterial metabolism and regulatory networks, together with the factors affecting motility and competitive behaviours within soil communities. I study the regulatory control exerted on the carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism by phosphotransferase systems (PTS), using the symbiosis between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and legume plants as a model plant-bacterium interaction. This regulatory network controls different aspects of bacterial physiology through a nutritional cross-integration, allowing the cell to act at different times relative to nutrient availability. The overall goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for the establishment of an efficient symbiosis with legume plants, what will lead to sustainable crop yields and a positive impact on the environment in the long-term future.