Group Leader/s

Head of lab


Our goal is to study plant-virus interactions under a global perspective. By using gene expression profiling tools, metabolomics and bioinformatics we deduce cellular processes and regulatory pathways linked to the infection process. Interestingly, most of the virus-induced responses in plants include a vast array of stress responses devoted to maintain cellular homeostasis during stress. Despite plant viruses cause major economic losses worldwide by reducing crop yields and quality, little is known about the precise mechanisms that determine virus:host compatibility and disease. In this scenario, regulation of stress- and virus-responsive genes largely depends on fine-tuned interactions with the host RNA silencing machinery. As a result, RNA silencing ultimately facilitates the development of systemic infection while preventing the detrimental effect of virus overproduction. Thus, RNA silencing represents a complex matrix of gene regulation that shapes the outcome of virus infections and helps to maintain a subtle equilibrium between virus multiplication and host integrity. We postulate that viruses use virus-responsive, RNA silencing-associated small RNAs (sRNAs) to modulate the expression of host genes. Among the regulatory targets both host transcripts and chromosomal DNA can be controlled. In our lab, we use microarray hybridization- and high-throughput sequencing-based degradome studies to elucidate post-transcriptional RNA silencing networks activated upon virus infection. Furthermore, bisulfate-based deep sequencing enables genomic scale-identification of transcriptionally repressive marks in the form of methylated chromosomal DNA. Upon identification of target sequences, we study how epigenetic modifications influence gene expression and how they evolve in the plant in response to viral infection.



Staff Scientists
César Llave Correas
Predoctoral Students
Irene Guzman Benito
Team Image


1. Biodiversity and functional genomics of endogenous small RNAs induced upon biotic and abiotic stresses in plants (plasmar). Ref: GEN2003-20222-CO2-00. MCYT / GENOPLANTE / GABI. 2004-2006. 204.700 €. César Llave (PI)


2. Genómica funcional de micro-ARNs y otros pequeños ARNs como represores de la expresión de genomas virales. Ref. GR/SAL/0831/2004.Comunidad de Madrid. 2005. 43.500 €. César Llave (PI)


3. Análisis de la estructura y función de microARNs y otros pequeños ARNs como reguladores génicos durante las infecciones virales de las plantas. Ref. BIO2006-13107.Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. 2006-2009. : 212.960 €. César Llave (PI)


4. Identificación de factores y mecanismos celulares implicados en interacciones compatibles entre virus y plantas. Ref. CCG07-CSIC/GEN-1804.Comunidad de Madrid. 2008. 27.200 €. César Llave (PI)


5. Generación de herramientas genómicas en olivo y su aplicación en el análisis de la calidad de fruto y del aceite, y de caracteres agronómicos. Proyecto OLEAGEN. Fundación GENOMA ESPAÑA. 2008-2011. 97.718 €. César Llave (PI at CIB)


6. Análisis funcional de la actividad reguladorade pequeñós RNAs virales sobre los genomas del virus y del huésped e implicaciones en el desarrollo de infecciones virales en plantas. Ref. BIO2009-12004. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. 2010-2012. César Llave (IP). 172.000€


7. Red Nacional de Virología de Plantas. Ref. BIO2009-07108-E. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. 2010. César Llave (IP). 25.000


8. Functional significance of microRNA-regulatory nodes in plant-virus interactions: Comparative miRNA profiling and functional degradome. Ref. 2011BR0078. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad-CSIC. 2013-2014. César Llave (IP). 30.000


9. Functional analysis of virus-inducible, RNA silencing-associated regulatory nodes and evolution of epigenetic marks associated to plant-virus interactions. Ref. BIO2012-39973. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. 2013-2015. César Llave (IP). 130.000


10. Genes and mutants affecting viral infections in rapeseed (GAMAVIR). Ref. PCIN-2013-064. Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad. 2013-2015. 100.000€


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