Instituto de Investigaciones
en Biociencias Agrícolas y Ambientales
Research Projects

Research Projects

Biotic interactions in agriculture

Our research interests are the study of Chemical Ecology in plant-insect interactions. The aim of our studies is not only the identification and elucidation of plant immunological responses against insect attack, but also to study insect responses and behavior as response to plant defenses. Recently we have started to study the function of insect gut microflora in the tolerance of pest insects to plant defenses. Studying the interactions of gut bacteria with their host and its effect on insect behavior and performance will allow us to understand how insect pests can tolerate chemical defenses of crops. To address these kinds of question my group studies the interactions between soybean (Glycine max) with two of the main pest in Argentina, the southern green stinkbug (Nezara viridula) and Anticarsia genmatalis.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dra Romina Giacometti
  • Dr Francisco Dillon
  • Lic. Virginia Medina
  • Ing Agr. Jesica Barneto
  • Ing Agr. Lucia Barriga
  • Ing Prod Agrop. Maria E. Vago
  • Ing Agr. Bruno Rosso
  • Lic. Vanesa Jacobi
  • Lic. Camila Davila
  • Lic. Daniela Tejedor
  • Mariana Manetti
  • Juan P Gnata
  • Berenice Romero
  • Irigoyen Gerardo

Our research project is focused on understanding soybean defense mechanisms activated by MAPKs against the pathogenic fungus Macrophomina phaseolina, which causes damping off. Our studies are based on the transcriptional and post-translational analysis of MAPK cascade components in plant tissues induced by the fungus. In an ecological context, the immunological response of the plant to the attack of the pathogen, as well as the biochemical and molecular response to the interaction with other beneficial / controlling organisms such as Trichoderma sp. and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are of interest.
The detailed study of these interactions will contribute to understand how the plant selectively forms signaling networks, directly impacting on the functioning of its defense system against diseases such as that produced by M. phaseolina, allowing a new approach to protect and improve crops.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Martín Cappi Dahl

Thioredoxins, low weight proteins (12-13 kDa) with a conserved motive (-C-G-P-C-) are studied throught their function as thiol-disulfide redox modulators in a variety of biochemical mechanisms. Our approach include the participation of thioredoxins in:
a) Stress tolerance: role of soybean thioredoxins in defense mechanisms against biotic and abiotic stress.
b) Response to herbivory: Effect of thioredoxins on proteinase inhibitors. Interaction between insect thioredoxins and soybean inhibitors.
c) Regulation of the degradation of starch and proteins in cereals. Thioredoxin regulation of amylases and amylase inhibitors. Also, synthesis and degradation patterns of reserve thiol proteins such as prolamins.


Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Ing. Agr. Andrés Peton
  • Ing. Agr. Ivana Sabljic
  • Dra. Natalia Ilina
  • Ing. Agr. Silvina Monti
  • Srta. Josefina Demicheli
  • Srta Guillermina Arias
  • Srta Lucía Giai
  • Srta Florencia Coleman

Soil microorganisms constitute one of the most complex and diverse known natural communities. They are responsible of key steps in the biogeochemical cycles and their activities have an impact on primary productivity, animal and plant diversity and global climate, for example though the emission and mitigation of greenhouse gasses (GHG). This huge diversity can be affected by natural and anthropic phenomena. Among the anthropic effects, changes in land use have important consequences over microbial abundance and diversity. In recent years, the study of soil microbial diversity, especially bacterial communities, has advanced thanks to the use of a new generation of DNA sequencing methodologies. However, it is not yet clear the connection between microbial diversity and soil ecological functions. In this project, we propose to study the link between the microbial diversity of pristine and agricultural soils in Northwestern Argentina and two ecological soil functions: the regulation of GHG emissions and disease suppression. Finding the significance of these changes is a priority for the study of soil ecology in natural ecosystems and agroecosystems, and particularly for the preservation of soils and their rational and sustainable use. This study will contribute to the use of practices that are sustainable from ecological, economic and social standpoints.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dr. Ana M Romero
  • Dr. Filipe Behrends Kraemer
  • Ing. Agr. Mario O Tesouro
  • Ing. Agr. Mario O Tesouro
  • Ing. Agr. Marcos A Roba

Pseudomonas spp. and Burkholderia spp. comprise different bacterial species with interesting capabilities including plant growth promotion, antagonism of fungal phytopathogens and degradation of toxic compounds, such us mycotoxins involved in plant pathogenesis. Our research lines focus on the study of mechanisms involved in survival and competence in soil, production of antifungal compounds and mycotoxin degradation in Pseudomonas spp. and Burkholderia spp.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dra. Irma Roberts
  • Dra. Ester Simonetti
  • Dra. Florencia Alvarez
  • Bioq. Matías Vinacour
  • Ignacio Drehe
  • Nicolás Feldman

The objective of this work is to investigate the action of non-thermal plasma (or cold plasma) on soybean and wheat germination and plant growth as well as its effect on fungal diseases and plagues in seeds and flours of these crops.
This procedure is expected to yield on one hand agronomical benefits and on the other hand the reduction of pollution by agrochemicals in soil and water in rural areas.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Dra. Carla Giannina Zilli
  • Celeste del Amo Hospital
  • Cecilia Pérez Pizá
  • Dr. Leandro Prevosto (UTN-CONICET)
  • Dr. Guillermo Noriega CIPYP (CONICET)

Nanomaterials are artificially developed structures with dimensions of less than 100 nanometers, which exhibit properties dependent on size and have been minimally processed. They are widely used in health, food and environment. However the process of chemical synthesis is not only costly but also harmful to the environment due to the use of toxic products.
Our project offers an eco-friendly alternative, based on obtaining silver nanoparticles (AgNP) using Macrophomina phaseolina as a biological source of synthesis. This fungus is able to carry out the extracellular formation of nanoparticles making handling and processing easier, less costly and biocompatible. Also, the absence of reducing chemical agents leads to obtaining uncontaminated surfaces which makes them very interesting from the point of view of their biotechnological application. The results of our research demonstrate that the AgNPs obtained are stable over time and have a strong bactericidal activity, which could result in their application in crop protection.
Another important aspect that this project covers is the analysis at an eco-toxicological level of the impact that nanoparticles could generate on the environment in the future.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Dr. Federico N. Spagnoletti
  • Dra. Florencia Kronberg
  • Dra. Cecilia Spedalieri – INQUIMAE-CONICET
  • Damián A. Pérez

The search for natural active compounds that can replace the traditional insecticides, fungicides, bactericides and herbicides has become a priority in sustainable agriculture, and crucial in organic agriculture. The increased and rapid evolution of resistance to certain classes of agrochemicals of common use, the associated risks in human health and environmental contamination derived from massive and long term applications, and remediation costs highlight the urge for discovering nue compounds and active sites that may be compatible with a sustainable agriculture. In this sense, in the last decades, native species have become the focus of studies for finding new and alternative, nature-based products. Particularly in arid and semiarid regions, plant species have evolved to produce an arsenal of secondary metabolites that have allowed them to persist in environments characterized by biotic and abiotic stresses. Most of these secondary compounds are typically found in plant resins.

In this context, the general aim of this research line is to search for new active products with potential application in the agroindustry, focusing on native species of arid and semiarid regions of Argentina. In selected species, the studies typically include: the characterization, identification and quantification of the metabolites present in essential oils, resins and extracts of different plant organs, the isolation of bioactive metabolites through bio-guided fractionation, and selectivity studies. In addition, we also investigate the sites of production of targeted compounds, their distribution within the plant, and pursue ecophysiological studies that help to gain a better understanding on species functioning in its natural environment.

Studies in different shrub species of the genus Flourensia (Asteraceae) allowed us to identify novel compounds with potent allelopathic and antibacterial activity, as well as an array of bioproductos with direct and indirect applications in different industries.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dr. Leonardo A. Piazza FAUBA
  • Dra. Mariana P Silva CONICET
  • Dra. M. Graciela Tourn FAUBA
  • Lic. Daniela López CONICET

Soil fertility and plant mineral nutrition

The aim of our research is to decipher the role of subtilisins (serine proteases, family S8A) in the proteolytisis associated with nitrogen remobilization during leaf senescence and degradation of storage proteins during the germination of barley grains.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Ing. Agr. María Florencia Galotta
  • Ing. Agr. María Isabel Rodríguez

Collaborators:

  • Dra. Carla Caputo
  • Dra. M. Victoria Criado
  • Lic. Cintia Gabriela Veliz
  • Dra. Mariela Echeverria
  • Dra. Ester Simonetti
  • Dr. Federico Spagnoletti
  • Dr. Flavio H. Gutiérrez Boem
  • Ing. Agr. M.Sc. Pablo Prystupa
  • Dra. Sonia A. Wirth (FCEyN-UBA)

We study the molecular, biochemical and physiological processes that determine fluctuations in the remobilization of nutrients in response to most frequent abiotic stress that limit the yield of cereals grains. We also evaluate the capacity of different symbiotic microorganisms to mitigate these stresses. Special emphasis on the effect of these processes on the parameters that determine the quality of the grains is given.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dra. Irma Roberts
  • Dra. Mariela Echeverria
  • Lic. Cintia Veliz
  • Ing Agr. Federico Pandol Avalos
  • Ing Agr. José Boero
  • Lic. Federico Ciolfi
  • Dr. Flavio Gutiérrez Boem
  • M.Sc. Pablo Prystupa

This research program seeks to respond to the need to adapt current production systems within a framework of sustainable production, minimizing environmental impact and identifying alternatives towards a more diverse agricultural production.
We conduct field trials and simulation experiments to evaluate indicators of agricultural sustainability, to understand how different biophysical processes affect agricultural sustainability and to design strategies to optimize resource use. Main ongoing research projects include the identification of constraints to maize and soybean production in the semiarid and subhumid Chaco, alternatives to increase nitrogen use efficiency in winter cereals and the identification of strategies to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Lic. Lucia Casali
  • Ing. Agr. Luciana B. Bolañez

In this research we are focused on the belowground components and phosphorus nutrition of Pampean crops. The impact of crop limiting factors on soil exploration and root behavior are evaluated. Soil phosphorus bioavailability and mechanisms that contribute to its efficient management are being studied in field, greenhouse and lab conditions.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Dr. Flavio Gutiérrez Boem
  • Dr. Fernando Salvagiotti
  • MSc. Pablo Prystupa
  • MSc. María Marta Caffaro
  • Ing. Agr. Florencia Sucunza
  • Ing. Agr. Florencia de Marotte
  • Ing. Agr. Alejandra Hernández

The aim is to explain the response of crops as a consequence of the edaphic processes that affect nutrients availability and crop mechanisms that are affected by fertilizer addition. We aim to evaluate the effects of mineral nutrition on the determination of both, grain yield and industrial quality.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Ing. Agr. M.Sc. Pablo Prystupa
  • Dr. Gerardo Rubio
  • Ing. Agr. José Julián Boero
  • Ing. Agr. Federico Manuel Gomez

The use of soil microorganisms is one strategy to reduce the environmental and economic problems of phosphorous fertilization as well to make use of non-industrialize rocks. The ability of DSE fungi to dissolve soil insoluble phosphates has been little studied. There are previous results showing DSE fungi taken from crops grown in tha Pampas region, showing very versatile metabolism. Aiming to improve crop nutrition, the viability to use those fungi to solubilize insoluble phosphates from soils and phosphoric rocks will be studied.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Lic. Federico Spagnoletti
  • Lic. Osvaldo Barresi
  • Lic. Fernando Ureta Suelgaray
  • Dra. Mónica B. Rodríguez

Recent developments in technologies such as microsatellites, unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors allow us to imagine important applications with them in agricultural and environmental sciences.
This research program relies on image analysis techniques and on the processing and statistical analysis of big data. Main objective is to integrate information delivered by remote and proximal sensors into plant breeding programs and to increase resource use efficiency and assess precisely and at large geographical scales the consequences of agricultural resource use on the environment.

Senior researchers:

Environmental studies in agronomy

The development of energy crops for the generation of electricity from biomass combustion is one of the main objectives in renewable energetic policies at a national level (e.g. GENREN program) and worldwide. The thermic treatment or pyrolysis of biomass from agricultural feedstocks is one of the most popular alternatives that allows for its complete utilization, transforming the original feedstock in highly valued products (bio-oil, biochar, bioproducts) that can be used for different purposes and industries. In this research line we investigate the potential applications of native species of Argentina through different technologies. One of the main methods applied is fast pyrolysis (at different temperatures, catalysts) through which we determine the product yields (bio-oil, biochar and other subproducts) of different biomasses. The original biomass and its products are characterized, including: elemental composition, lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, ashes, higher heating values, bio-oil composition (GC-MS), structural properties of biochars, etc. In addition, the potential use of biochars as soil amendment is investigated through bioassays, testing the water extracts of biochars on the germination and growth of Lactuca sativa.

Results sofar indicate that within the genus Flourensia there are promissory species for the production of bio-oil and biochar with a wide range of applications, including the potential use of biochar water extracts as growth regulator.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Dra. Laura Moyano. INFIQC-Fac. Cs. Químicas-UNC)
  • Dra. Mariana P Silva CONICET
  • Dr. Leonardo A. Piazza. FAUBA
  • Lic. Daniela López CONICET
  • Ing. Agr. Diego Wassner. FAUBA

The accumulation of arsenic and other potentially toxic elements in soils and their effect of crops was studied. The adsorption in soil fractions, the competence among them, their mobility in soils as well as absorption, accumulation and damage in soybean and other crops was included. The project comprises physic-chemical, biochemistry and agronomic planes. The influence of mycorrhizal and dark septate endophytes fungi is assessed.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Dra. Viviana M. Chiocchio
  • Dr. Federico Spagnoletti
  • Lic. Gisele Ferreyroa INQUIMAE - FCEyN
  • Dr. Fernando Molina INQUIMAE - FCEyN
  • Dra. Karina Balestrasse
  • Lic. Marcos Orelllana
  • Ing. Agr. Ana Muzlera Klappenbach

Two main lines of bioinformatics research are underway 1) Genomics and transcriptomics analyses in species of the genus Mycobacterium. 2) Metagenomics analysis with amplicons (167S rRNA) and whole genomic DNA from different microbiomes: soil, guts of insects and human intestines.

Group leader:

Group members:

  • Juan Orlowski. Cátedra de Microbiología. INBA
  • Paola Talia, Instituto de Biotecnología. CNIA. INTA
  • Dra. Fabiana Bigi, Instituto de Biotecnología. CNIA. INTA
  • Mg. Cristóbal Santamaría, Universidad Nacional de La Matanza

We are an interdisciplinary team that uses the nematode C. elegans as a biological model to study environmental impacts. The main research lines are the integrated water quality analysis of different Argentine basins and the study of endocrine disruption effects of pesticides.

Group leader:

  • Eliana R. Munarriz, PhD, MBA

Group members:

  • M. Florencia Kronberg, PhD
  • Aldana Moya, Ing
  • Araceli Clavijo, Mg
  • Anabella Confeggi

Collaborators:

  • Ariana Rossen PhD (INA)
  • Jose Morabito Ing, (INA)
  • Olga Castro, PhD (FCEyN, UBA)
  • Eleodoro del Valle, PhD (FCA, UNL)

Se estudian los procesos bióticos y abióticos del ciclo del nitrógeno. Se focaliza principalmente la salida del nutriente (lixiviación de nitratos, volatilización del amoníaco) y la acumulación en la parte cosechable, en sistemas de producción agrícola, lo que significa un problema ambiental. Se trabaja con técnicas isotópicas y se modelizan los procesos.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Ing. Agr. Helena Rimski-Korsakov, FAUBA
  • Dr. Jorge Delgado, USDA, Fort Collins, Colorado, EE.UU.
  • Ing. Agr. MSci. Marieles Pescie Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias UNLZ

El desarrollo de cultivos energéticos, para la generación de electricidad por combustión de biomasa, constituye uno de los objetivos principales dentro de las políticas de energías renovables a nivel nacional (programa GENREN) y mundial. El tratamiento térmico o pirólisis de biomasa proveniente de la agricultura es una de las alternativas de reutilización de la misma con distintos fines, permitiendo su transformación en productos de alto valor agregado. Se trabaja con especies endémicas de Argentina, investigando los usos potenciales de las resinas -en base a la identificación de sus compuestos químicos mediante su extracción y análisis espectrales (CG-MS); el rendimiento energético de la biomasa aérea para emplear como biocombustible sólido en la cogeneración eléctrica -a través de la determinación de su poder calorífico, contenido de cenizas y nitrógeno-; el tratamiento térmico de la biomasa como combustible alternativo- a través de la aplicación del método fast-pyrolisis y análisis por CG-MS. Los estudios actuales incluyen especies del género Flourensia y Jathropa.

Group leaders:

Group members:

  • Dra. Laura Moyano. INFIQC-Fac. Cs. Químicas-UNC)
  • Ing. Agr. Diego Wassner. FAUBA
  • Dr. Leonardo A. Piazza .FAUBA
  • Dra. M. Graciela Tourn. FAUBA
  • Dra. Mariana P Silva

Institutional project INBA

The application of fertilizers and pesticides have been the traditional tool to satisfy crop nutrient demand and to protect crops from insects and diseases. These methods have led to an agriculture based on synthetic products, successful to raise yields, but with environmental costs. The objective of this line of research is to study the strategies of the plants and their associated microbiomes with potential to increase the effectivity of environmental resources to reduce the use of agrochemicals. The specific objectives are: i) to evaluate the morphological and functional changes of the underground organs under the presence of simultaneous stresses in order to obtain insights for the efficient use of nutrients; ii) to evaluate the effect of abiotic and biotic factors on nutrients translocation and their role in the efficient use of nutrients; iii) to evaluate the use of bacteria, fungi and biological compounds as a supplement to phosphate fertilization; iv) to identify mechanisms of defense of soybean against the attack of insects and to evaluate the possible modulation of these mechanisms by the associated microbiomes; v) to determine the participation of the intestinal microbiome of the insects in the tolerance to soybean defenses; vi) to develop technologies for biological control of phytopathogenic fungi in extensive crops. Our geographic framework is the Pampean Region and its main summer (soybean and corn) and winter crops (wheat and barley). Experimental approaches include experiments under controlled and field conditions. Measurements cover an extensive range that includes root analysis by rhizotrons, isolation and determination of microorganism functionality, gene expression, among others.

Project leader:

Project members:

  • This project includes all INBA staff.