Gloria Torres Cortes

Gloria Torres Cortes

AgreenSkills session, year: 1st session, 2016

Receiving laboratory: IRHS Institute for Horticulture and Seeds, Emergence, systematics and ecology of plant pathogenic bacteria (EmerSys) group, Angers-Nantes

Country of origin : Germany




Mobility project

Microbial functional diversity and its dynamics during seed germination and emergence

Seeds carry diverse microbial assemblages whose functions remain largely unknown. Microbial interactions occurring on and around the seed are especially important for plant fitness since seed-borne microorganisms are the primary source of inoculum for the plant. Depending of the outcome of the interactions, these microbial assemblages could either promote or reduce plant growth. Despite this important role, little is known about the structure and function of seed microbiota. In this project, we aim to apply metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approaches to uncover the function of the seed microbiota and its changes during germination and emergence. We will try to reveal through metagenomics the genetic content of this microbiota in seeds, germinating seeds and seedlings from 3 different plant families (Fabaceae, Apiaceae and Brassicaceae). The study of the differences in gene abundance during germination and emergence in these plant species will reveal novel insights regarding the function and colonizing strategies of microorganisms in seeds and young plants. In addition, a metatranscriptomics analysis will be performed on the same samples to observe differences in expression patterns. We will also compare all the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data obtained in the course of this project (from seeds, germinating seeds and seedlings) with other metagenomic and metatranscriptomic public datasets from other plant habitats (such as the phyllosphere and the rhizosphere). Altogether, the data from this work will determine the significance of seed microbial communities during germination and emergence and will contribute to a more holistic understanding of the plant microbiome.

Biography & research interests

I graduated in Biology at the University of Granada (Spain). My attraction for microbial diversity started while I was an undergraduate student and continued during my PhD at the “Estacion Experimental del Zaidin” (CSIC-Granada; Spain). During my PhD, I analyzed the bacterial rizosphere community associated to different cactus in a natural park in Mexico. From a more applied perspective, I also studied the lipolytic enzymes and antibiotic resistance reservoir of these bacterial communities. After successfully obtaining my PhD, I decided to pursue the goal of completing the knowledge acquired during my PhD with some insight into fungal diversity. For this purpose, I joined the Genetic section of the University of Munich (LMU), where I would be working with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). During my first postdoctoral year I worked on the molecular characterization of AMF from environmental communities and during the last years, I was involved in the development and execution of a project focused on a type of Mycoplasma-related endobacteria of AMF. In this project, we provided evidence of trans-kingdom gene transfer between the endobacteria and their AMF host. Currently, I continue developing my scientific career in bacteria-fungal interactions and microbial diversity as an AgreenSkills fellow, studying bacterial and fungal communities associated with plant seeds.

Selected publications

1*.Torres-Cortés, G*. Ghignone, S. Bonfante, P. Schüssler, A. 2015. Mosaic genome of endobacteria in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: trans-kingdom gene transfer in an ancient mycoplasma-fungus association. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 112, 7785–7790. With the associated comment: Chih-Horng Kuo “Scrambled and not-so-tiny genomes of fungal endosymbionts” 2015. PNAS. 112 (25) 7622-7623 *corresponding author

2*.Senés-Guerrero, C. Torres-Cortés, G. Pfeiffer, S. Rojas, M. Schüssler, A. 2013. Potato-associated arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the Peruvian Andes. Mycorrhiza, 24, 405 – 417.

3*.Torres-Cortés, G. Millán, V. Fernández-González, A.J Aguirre-Garrido, J.F. Ramírez-Saad, H.C. Fernández-López, M. Toro, N. Martínez-Abarca, F. 2012. Bacterial community in the rhizosphere of the cactus species Mammillaria carnea during dry and rainy seasons assessed by deep sequencing. Plant and Soil, 357, 275 – 288.

4*.Aguirre-Garrido, J.F. Montiel-Lugo, D. Hernández-Rodríguez, C. Torres-Cortés, G. Millán, V. Toro, N. Martínez-Abarca, F. Rodríguez-Saad, H.C. 2012. Bacterial community structure in the rhizosphere of three cactus species from semi-arid highlands in central Mexico. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 10, 891 – 904.

5*. Torres-Cortés, G. Millán, V. Rodríguez-Saad, H.C. Nisa-Martínez, R. Toro, N. Martínez-Abarca, F. 2011. Characterization of novel antibiotic resistance genes identified by functional metagenomics on soil samples. Environmental Microbiology, 13, 1101 – 1114.