Group José María Corral García



Gene discovery and molecular breeding


The aim of our research is the discovery of genes, markers, and signalling molecules associated to plant traits for improving crop characteristics, quality and productivity.

Food security, consumer preferences, health concerns, and the imminent effects of climate change are forcing breeders to find quicker and more efficient alternatives to the classic breeding methods to develop new crop varieties.

In order to answer to this demand, we use the latest molecular and bioinformatics technologies for the generation, analysis and integration of multi-omic data (genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome and phenome) in order to disclose the genetic basis of plant complex traits.

As consequence of the exhaustive exploration of the molecular networks at different biological levels, we discover key biomarkers that will be subsequently targeted by molecular breeding, biotechnology and genome editing.


Research project: Heat stress in potato (Solanum tuberosum)

Potato was domesticated 10.000 years ago in cool regions of the Andes of South America. Since then, it has become the third most important crop in the world becoming critical in terms of food security.

However, the yield of many economically important potato genotypes is very sensitive to elevated temperatures, and it has been estimated a decrease of global potato yields by around 30% by the 2050s due to the effects of global warming.

Although the correlation of high temperatures and inhibition of potato tuberization signal has already been observed, the genetic networks affected by heat stress remain unknown. Therefore, and in collaboration with the research Group Sophia Sonnewald, our objectives in this project are:

  •   Discovery of genes and regulatory networks associated with heat stress responses in potato.
  •   Disclosure of target-binding specificities of potato transcription factors and microRNAs involved in this process.
  •   Analysis to uncover potato genotype-phenotype interactions by multi-omic data integration.
  •   Development of diagnostic markers for heat tolerance/intolerance, concerning tuberization, for marker assisted selection of breeding programmes.