The WhiteBiotech (industrial biotechnology) interdepartmental unit is a joint effort of active groups working in microbial biotechnology and protein science with a record of mutual collaboration at CIB. The mission of the WhiteBiotech unit is promoting excellence in knowledge transfer and innovation in applied biotechnology, acting as an accelerator for translational biotechnology development at the CIB level and beyond.

The unit integrates front-line technologies and research strategies - including structural, molecular and chemical biology, computational (bio)chemistry, protein engineering, and systems and synthetic microbiology - to develop novel biotechnological products of interest for the bio-based and other industrial sectors, bulk and fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals included.

Our connection with these industrial sectors has a recognized international dimension, as shown by coordination of two large FP7 projects and two H2020 projects of the BioBased Industries Joint-Undertaking (BBI-JU;, together with the recent involvement in eight more BBI-JU and H2020 projects (and several ITN networks) and a score of related projects funded at national level, including coordination of the recently created CSIC interdisciplinary platform on bioplastics (SusPlast,




The Interdepartmental Unit was created in 2012 (by a CSIC decision of 31 July) and, since its establishment date, has undergone several reorganizations as a result of the evolution of the CIB staff and the recommendations of the Scientific Committee, being currently constituted by de following 15 scientists/PIs: Sonsoles Martín Santamaría - Auxiliadora Prieto - Carmen Gil - Ana Martínez - Cristina Vega - Antonio Romero - Eduardo Díaz - Germán Rivas - María Jesús Martínez - Ángel T. Martínez (Coordinator) - Fernando Díaz - Miguel Angel Peñalva - (not in the picture: José Luis García - Ignacio Casal - Susana Camarero)

Research topics of the unit members are:

1) Microbial cell-factories for enzymes and metabolites of interest, Membrane trafficking and optimized secretion of fungal enzymes, Carbohydrate-acting enzymes (GHs, esterases and others), Fungal oxidoreductases, Rational design and directed molecular evolution of enzymatic biocatalysts

2) Crystallography and x-ray diffraction analysis, Protein science for drug design, Macromolecular interactions and synthetic cell-like environments

3) Microbial genomics and metagenomics, Advanced functional proteomics, Systems biology, Computational biology in enzyme and drug design    

4) Biotechnology for lignocellulose biorefineries, Degradation & valorization of lignin and carbohydrates, Bacterial metabolism of aromatics, steroids and other compounds, Bioplastics/biomaterials from renewable resources and wastes, Synthetic microbiology


Selected publications (2015-2019):

Carro J, González-Benjumea A, Fernández-Fueyo E, Aranda C, Guallar V, Gutiérrez A, Martínez AT  [2019]. Modulating Fatty Acid Epoxidation vs Hydroxylation in a Fungal Peroxygenase. ACS Catalysis 9: 6234-6242

Ayuso-Fernández I, Francisco J. Ruiz-Dueñas FJ, Martínez AT. 2018. Evolutionary convergence in lignin-degrading enzymes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115: 6428-6433

Barriuso J, Hogan DA, Keshavarz T, Martínez MJ. 2018. Role of quorum sensing and chemical communication in fungal biotechnology and pathogenesis, FEMS Microbiology Reviews 42: 627-638 

Barriuso J, Vaquero ME, Prieto A, Martínez MJ. 2016. Structural traits and catalytic versatility of the lipases from the Candida rugosa-like family: A review. Biotechnology Advances 34: 874-885

Carro J, Fernández-Fueyo E, Fernández-Alonso C, Cañada J, Ullrich R, Hofrichter M, … Martínez AT.(2018). Self-sustained enzymatic cascade for the production of 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid from 5-methoxymethylfurfural. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 11, 86.

Monterroso, B., Zorrilla, S., Sobrinos-Sanguino, M., Robles-Ramos, M. A., López-Álvarez, M., Margolin, W., . . . Rivas, G. (2019). Bacterial FtsZ protein forms phase-separated condensates with its nucleoid-associated inhibitor SlmA. EMBO Reports, 20(1) doi:10.15252/embr.201845946

Fernández C, González-Rubio G, Langer J, Tardajos G, Liz-Marzán LM, Giraldo R*, Guerrero-Martínez A*. 2016. Nucleation of amyloid oligomers by RepA-WH1 prionoid-functionalized gold nanorods. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 55: 11237-11241

Fernández FJ, Arda A, López-Estepa M, Aranda J, Peña-Soler E, Garces F, Round A, Campos-Olivas R, Bruix M, Coll M, Tuñón I, Jiménez-Barbero J, Vega MC. 2016. Mechanism of sulfur transfer across protein-protein interfaces: The cysteine desulfurase model system. ACS Catalysis 6: 3975-3984

Fernández-Cabezón L, Galán B, García JL. (2018) Unravelling a new catabolic pathway of C-19 steroids in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Environ Microbiol 20(5):1815-1827

Hernández-González M, Bravo-Plaza I, Pinar M, de los Ríos V, Arst HN,  Peñalva MA. (2018). Endocytic recycling via the TGN underlies the polarized hyphal mode of life. PLoS Genetics, 14(4), e1007291.

Martín-Moldes Z, Blázquez B, Baraquet C, Harwood CS, Zamarro MT, Díaz E. 2016. Degradation of cyclic diguanosine monophosphate by a hybrid two-component protein protects Azoarcus sp strain CIB from toluene toxicity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113: 13174-13179

Martínez AT, Ruiz-Dueñas FJ, Camarero S, Serrano A, Linde D, Lund H, Vind J, Tovborg M, Herold-Majumdar OM, Hofrichter M, Liers C, Ullrich R, Scheibner K, Sannia G, Piscitelli A, Pezzella C, Sener ME, Kilic S, van Berkel WJH, Guallar V, Lucas MF, Zuhse R, Ludwig R, Hollmann F, Fernandez-Fueyo E, Record E, Faulds CB, Tortajada M, Winckelmann I, Rasmussen JA, Gelo-Pujic M, Gutierrez A, del Rio JC, Rencoret J, Alcalde M. 2017. Oxidoreductases on their way to industrial biotransformations. Biotechnology Advances 35: 815-831

Martínez AT. 2016. How to break down crystalline cellulose. Science 352: 1050-1051

Martínez I, Mohamed MES, Rozas D, García JL, Díaz E. 2016. Engineering synthetic bacterial consortia for enhanced desulfurization and revalorization of oil sulfur compounds. Metabolic Engineering 35: 46-54

Méndez-Líter JA, de Eugenio LI, Prieto A, Martínez MJ. 2018. The β-glucosidase secreted by Talaromyces amestolkiae under carbon starvation: a versatile catalyst for biofuel production from plant and algal biomass. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 11, 123.

Palomo V, Pérez DI, Roca C, Anderson C, Rodríguez-Muela N, Pérez C, Morales-García JA, Reyes JA, Campillo NE, Pérez-Castillo AM, Rubin LL, Timchenko L, Gil C, Martínez A. 2017. Subtly modulating glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta: Allosteric inhibitor development and their potential for the treatment of chronic diseases. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 60: 4983-5001

Peláez-García A, Barderas R, Batlle R, Viñas-Castells R, Bartolomé RA, Torres S, Mendes M, López-Lucendo M, Mazzolini R, Bonilla F, de Herreros AG, Casal JI. 2015. A proteomic analysis reveals that snail regulates the expression of the nuclear orphan receptor nuclear receptor subfamily 2 group f member 6 (nr2f6) and interleukin 17 (il-17) to inhibit adipocyte differentiation. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 14: 303-315

Pinar M, Arst HN, Pantazopoulou A, Tagua VG, de los Ríos V, Rodríguez-Salarichs J, Díaz JF, Peñalva MA. 2015. TRAPPII regulates exocytic Golgi exit by mediating nucleotide exchange on the Ypt31 ortholog RabE(RAB11). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112: 4346-4351

Rivas G, Minton AP. 2016. Macromolecular crowding in vitro, in vivo, and in between. Trends in Biochemical Sciences 41: 970-981

Sáez-Calvo G, Sharma A, Balaguer FA, Barasoain I, Rodríguez-Salarichs J, Olieric N, Muñoz-Hernández H, Berbís MA, Wendeborn S, Peñalva MA, Matesanz R, Canales A, Prota AE, Jiménez-Barbero J, Andreu JM, Lamberth C, Steinmetz MO, Díaz JF. 2017. Triazolopyrimidines stabilize microtubules by binding to the vinca inhibitor site of tubulin. Cell Chemical Biology 24:737-750


European Projects (coordination, participation, ITNs):

WoodZymes "Extremozymes for wood based building blocks" (H2020 BBI-JU, 2018-2021; 3.3 M€ funding). The project focuses on the use of new/engineered extremophilic enzymes to substitute harsh and energy-demanding chemical treatments for sustainable production of bio-based building blocks and products in wood biorefinery. 11 partners - Coordinator: Susana Camarero. 

EnzOx2 "New enzymatic oxidation/oxyfunctionalization technologies for added value bio-based products” (H2020 BBI-JU, 2016-2019; funding; 3.0 M€; The project focuses on the development of new enzymatic technologies in the production of: i) Polymer building blocks from bio-based 5-hydroxymethylfurfural; ii) Active pharmaceutical ingredients;  and iii) Terpenes as flavor & fragrance precursors. 12 partners - Coordinator Angel T. Martínez.

SusBind "Development and pilot production of sustainable bio-binder systems for wood based panels" (H2020 BBI-JU, 2018-2022; 4.4 M€ funding). The objective is to produce bio-based binders in the manufacturing of wood boards using greener technologies, such as enzymatic epoxidation. 12 partners, including world-leading companies (such as IKEA) and CIB (PI: Angel T. Martínez).

EngiCoin "Engineered microbial factories for CO2 exploitation in an integrated waste treatment platform" (H2020, 2018-2021; 7.0 M€ funding; website to be launched in Jan-2018. The project will develop new microbial factories (using Synechocystis, Ralstonia and Acetobacterium), exploiting CO2 for the production of value-added chemicals. Coordinator: Turin University (Italy). 12  partners including CIB (PI: Auxiliadora Prieto).

IBISBA 1.0 "Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator" (H2020 INFRAIA [Integrating and opening research infrastructures of European interest]; 2018-2021; 5 M€ funding; The aim is to support and accelerate the uptake of industrial biotechnology, as a key enabling technology for advanced manufacturing, by providing a network of research infrastructure facilities to promote R&D in bioprocess development. Coordinator: INRA-Toulouse (France). 16 partners including CSIC (PI: María Jesús Martínez).

LIAR "Living Architecture" (H2020, 2016-2019; 3.0 M€ funding; LIAR is a modular bioreactor-wall, based on microbial fuel cell technology, as an integral component of human dwelling, capable of extracting valuable resources from sunlight, waste water and air, and generating oxygen, proteins and biomass. Coordinator: Newcastle University (UK). 6 partners including CIB (PI: Jose L. García).

CELBICON "Cost-effective CO2 conversion into chemicals via combination of capture, electrochemical and bi-ochemical conversion technologies" (H2020, 2016-2019; 5.4 M€ funding; The project will bridge CO2 capture with electrochemical reduction and fermentation to bioplastics, isoprene, lactic acid and methane. Coordinator: Politecnico de Torino (Italy). 13 partners including CIB (PI: Auxiliadora Prieto).

P4SB "From Plastic waste to Plastic value using Pseudomonas putida Synthetic Biology" (FP7, 2015-2019; 7.0 M€ funding; Using Synthetic Biology to bring about the sustainable and environmentally-friendly bioconversion of oil-based plastic waste into fully biodegradable counterparts. Coordinator: RWTH Aachen (Germany). 12 partners including CIB (PI: Auxiliadora Prieto).

AFTERLIFE " Advanced filtration technologies for the recovery and later conversion of relevant fractions from wastewater" (H2020 BBI-JU, 2017-2021; 3.9 M€ funding; The project proposes a flexible, cost- and resource-efficient process for the production value-added biopolymers (polyhydroxyalkanoates) from wastewaters. Coordinator: Eggplant (Italy). 15 partners including CIB (PI: Auxiliadora Prieto).

RefuCoat "Full recyclable food package with enhanced gas barrier properties and new functionalities by the use of high performance coatings" (H2020 BBI-JU 2017-2020; 2.3 M€ funding; This project is developing hybrid bio-based high oxygen/water barrier and active coatings to be used in food packages (films and trays). Coordinator: AIMPLAS (Spain). 12 partners including CIB (PI: Auxiliadora Prieto).

LigBio "A Synthetic Biology approach for bacterial bioconversion of lignin into renewable chemicals" (Eranet-IB, 2015-2018; 0.8 M€ funding; This project will study Pseudomonas putida KT2440 to elucidate lignin degradation by bacteria, and develop a fermentation process for the production of renewable aromatics from lignin. Coordinator: Warwick University (UK). 4 partners including CIB (PI: Eduardo Diaz).

TOLLERANT "Toll-Like Receptor 4 activation and function in diseases: an integrated chemical-biology approach" (2015-2018; H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014; 3.1 M€ funding; TOLLERANT relies on synergies and combination of chemistry, biology, biophysics, biochemistry and pharmacology expertises. 7 partners including CIB (PI: Sonsoles Martin Santamaria).

DRIVE "Driving next generation autophagy researchers towards translation" (H2020 MSCA-ITN-ETN; 2017-2021, 3.8M€ funding;  The goal is to train young scientists in the applied autophagy field. Coordinator: UMCG Groningen (Netherlands). 14 partners including CIB (PI: Ana Martinez).