Pilar S. Testillano

Scientific Researcher of CSIC

Margarita Salas Center of Biological Research, CIB Margarita Salas, CSIC

Personal webpage

Pollen Biotechnology of Crop Plants lab

Agriculture of the 21st century needs to accelerate crop breeding to obtain varieties with higher yield and more resilient to climate change. We investigate the regulatory mechanisms of stress-induced plant cell reprogramming and regeneration, key biotechnological process for improvement, propagation and selection of high quality plants, better adapted to changing environmental conditions for agro, forestry and industrial sectors. Plant in vitro regeneration systems permit to clonally propagated elite genotypes (through somatic embryogenesis), to produce double-haploids with new genetic variability (through embryogenesis of microspores, precursors of pollen), and to convert gene edited or transformed material into plants.

Our group at the CIB Margarita Salas of CSIC, in Madrid, is interested in the cellular and molecular basis of induction of plant cell reprogramming by stress, to identify new targets for efficient manipulation of in vitro regeneration systems, in crop and forest plants, like rapeseed, barley and cork oak. Among the molecular determinants of plant cell reprogramming, we analyze AUTOPHAGY and specific cystein PROTEASES and their role in CELL DEATH AND SURVIVAL during stress-induced cell reprogramming and plant regeneration, as well as in the developmental cell death of tapetum during pollen development. Other research lines of our group are: (a) the role of hormones, like auxin, cytokinins and others, and Epigenetic regulation in cell reprogramming, (b) Involvement of cell wall remodelling, operated by PMEs and AGPs in embryo development; (c) Screening of small molecules for new biotech strategies to enhance plant regeneration; (d) Transferring the achievements and innovations to the productive sector, for applications in non-model plant species of economic and environmental interest for agro, forest and biotechnology sectors.