Natural variation in plant development



Carlos Alonso-Blanco

Group Leader



Research summary

The main objective of our research is to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in plant adaptation. We are dissecting the genetic variation in the model annual plant Arabidopsis thalianain nature. Similar to many other plant species, individuals and populations of A. thaliana living in different geographical regions differ in many developmental traits that are presumed to reflect adaptations to different environments.





Méndez-Vigo B, Ausín I, Zhu W, Mollá-Morales A, Balasubramanian S, Alonso-Blanco C. Genetic Interactions and Molecular Evolution of the Duplicated Genes ICARUS2 and ICARUS1 Help Arabidopsis Plants Adapt to Different Ambient Temperatures. Plant Cell 2019 Jun;31(6):1222-1237

Marcer A, Vidigal DS, James PM, Fortin MJ, Méndez-Vigo B, Hilhorst HW, Bentsink L, Alonso-Blanco C, Picó FX. Temperature fine-tunes Mediterranean Arabidopsis thaliana life-cycle phenology geographically. Plant Biol 2018; 20: 148-156

Expósito-Alonso M, Brennan AC, Alonso-Blanco C, Picó FX. Spatio-temporal variation in fitness responses to contrasting environments in Arabidopsis thaliana. Evolution 2018; 72: 1570-1586

Tabas-Madrid D, Méndez-Vigo B, Arteaga N, Marcer A, Pascual-Montano A, Weigel D, Xavier Picó F, Alonso-Blanco C. Genome-wide signatures of flowering adaptation to climate temperature: Regional analyses in a highly diverse native range of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell Environ 2018; 41: 1806-1820

Durvasula A, Fulgione A, Gutaker RM, Alacakaptan SI, Flood PJ, Neto C, Tsuchimatsu T, Burbano HA, Picó FX, Alonso-Blanco C, Hancock AM. African genomes illuminate the early history and transition to selfing in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2017; 114: 5213-5218.

Lee CR, Svardal H, Farlow A, Exposito-Alonso M, Ding W, Novikova P, Alonso-Blanco C, Weigel D, Nordborg M. On the post-glacial spread of human commensal Arabidopsis thaliana. Nat Commun 2017; 8:14458


AlonsoBlanco Figura 1 2018 The main goal of our laboratory is to understand the genetic, molecular and evolutionary mechanisms involved in plant adaptation. In particular, we are interested in understanding how developmental traits, such as flowering time, seed dormancy or vegetative growth, allow plant adaptation. To address this question, we are exploiting the genetic variation that exists in nature within the wild, annual, and model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Given the relevance of climate change, our research is currently focused on identifying new genes and natural alleles that are involved in the adaptation to different climates. To this end, we are exploiting an A. thaliana regional collection of more than 400 wild accessions collected in the Iberian Peninsula (Tabas-Madrid et al., 2018; Marcer et al., 2018). We are carrying out multiple phenotypic and environmental genome-wide association analyses (GWAS), using the genome sequence of 174 Iberian accessions (Figure 1). We have identified known genes, such as TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF), and new genes, like VOLTAGE DEPENDENT ANION CHANNEL 5 (VDAC5) as candidates for adaptation to climate temperature by altered flowering time (Figure 2). Furthermore, we are analysing the adaptive and demographic history of A. thaliana not only in this region (Exposito-Alonso et al., 2018), but also in Eurasia (Lee et al., 2017) and Africa (Durvasula et al., 2017).

logolife150In collaboration with Dr Antonio Leyva from the CNB, we also study the application of natural isolates of duckweed aquatic plants for water phytoremediation. In particular, our lab is currently involved in the project “Duckweed technology for improving nutrient management and resource efficiency in pig” ( funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Commission (Grant number LIFE15 ENV/ES/000382). 

  AlonsoBlanco Figura 2 2018


 Alonso C grupo 2018 

Carlos Alonso-Blanco Principal investigator
Belén Méndez de Vigo Postdoctoral scientist
Alberto Fuster Pons Predoctoral Scientist
Mercedes Ramiro Technician

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