AgreenSkills session, year: 2nd session, 2014

Receiving laboratory: LIPM Plant-Microbe Interactions Toulouse, France

Country of origin : USA




Mobility project

Deciphering the protective roles of transcriptional regulators of innate immunity during seed development in Arabidopsis thaliana

The Arabidopsis MYB transcription factor MYB30 is a key activator of plant immune responses through the induction of the expression of VLCFA-related genes, including genes involved in cuticle biosynthesis. The MIEL subfamily of RING-type E3-ubiquitin-ligases comprises 4 members (MIEL1-4) all of which are able to interact with and ubiquitinate MYB30, leading to suppression of plant defences. Intriguingly, in healthy plants, MYB30, MIEL1 and MIEL4 are specifically expressed in young embryos at the timepoint when embryonic cuticle reinforcement occurs. Since the molecular mechanisms behind these exciting findings remain largely unknown, my project will explore the poorly characterized crosstalk between signalling pathways involved in plant development and defence responses.

Biography & research interests

During my PhD at the Estación Experimental del Zaidín in Granada (Spain), I focused on the physiological aspects of programmed cell death (PCD) related to incompatible pollen rejection in olive tree. To study the mechanisms of pollen rejection in olive I used a cell biological approach, which allowed me to demonstrate that olive displays all of the features that characterize species with gametophytic self-incompatibility. Furthermore, I observed for the first time, that peroxynitrite is produced during pollination and that this is related to an increase in protein nitration and PCD. For my postdoctoral research I moved to Indiana University (USA) where I focused my research on PCD during biotic and abiotic stress responses in plants. I have been working on the identification and characterization of substrates of the Arabidopsis protein kinase EDR1 (Enhanced Disease Resistance1), which is a negative regulator of cell death under different stress responses. I became interested in ATL1 (Arabidopsis Toxicos en Levaduras1), a poorly characterized E3 ubiquitin ligase. I found that ATL1 is a positive regulator or cell death, and that its cell death triggering activity is dependent on its ubiquitin ligase activity. Furthermore, phosphorylation of ATL1 by EDR1 inhibits its E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, providing the first example in plants of direct regulation of an E3 ubiquitin ligase by phosphorylation. Currently, thanks to an AgreenSkills Incoming Fellowship I am exploring the role of key defence-related transcriptional regulators of plant immune responses in harnessing a primary role in embryo development.

Selected publications

Serrano I*, Romero-Puertas M, Sandalio LM, Olmedilla A. 2014. Involvement of reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide in programmed cell death associated with self incompatibility in plants. Journal of Experimental Botany, 66 (10): 2869-2876.

Article selected for cover picture.

*Corresponding author.

Serrano I, Gu Y, Dubiella U, Innes RW. 2014. The Arabidopsis Enhanced Disease Resistance 1 Protein Kinase Negatively Regulates the ATL1 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase To Suppress Cell Death. Plant Cell, 26: 4532-4546.

Serrano I, Olmedilla A. 2012. Histochemical location of key enzyme activities involved in receptivity and self-incompatibility in the olive tree (Olea europaea L.). Plant Science 197:40-49.

Serrano I, Romero-Puertas MC, Rodríguez-Serrano M, Sandalio LM, Olmedilla A. 2012. Peroxynitrite mediates programmed cell death both in papillar cells and in self-incompatible pollen in the olive (Olea europaea L.).  Journal of Experimental Botany 63:1479-1493.

Serrano I, Pelliccione S, Olmedilla A. 2010. Programmed-cell-death hallmarks in incompatible pollen and papillar stigma cells of Olea europaea L. under free pollination.  Plant Cell Reports, 29:561-572.

Serrano I, Suárez C, Olmedilla A, Rapoport HF, Rodriguez-García MI. 2008. Structural organization and cytochemical features of the pistil in olive (Olea europaea L.) cv. Picual at anthesis. Sexual Plant Reproduction, 21:99-111


Awards & patents

2014                            International Society of Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions Travel Award for attending the XVI International Congress on Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Rhodes, Greece.

Indiana University Travel Award for Women in Science for attending the XVI International Congress on Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Rhodes, Greece.

2010                            European Union Seventh Framework Program for Research (FP7) travel award for attending the course: “Climate change: challenge for training of applied plant scientist. Challenge for Plant Breeding and the Biotech Response”, Martonvasar, Hungary.

2009                            Spanish Microscopy Society Grant to attend the first Joint Meeting of the Spanish and the Portuguese Microscopy Societes, Segovia, Spain.

Spanish Microscopy Society Grant to attend the course “Cryomethods in Microscopy and their Applications in the Study of Biological Material”, Murcia, Spain.

2008                            Scientific Grant of the Andalucía Government (Spain) for Short Research Stay at Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnología, Brasilia, Brasil.




CV: Download curriculum vitae