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Maria Monica Calvo Polanco

Maria Monica Calvo Polanco

session, year:
2015 1st

Former fellow

Receiving laboratory:
B&PMP, Biochemistry and Plant Molecular Physiology, Montpellier

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Mobility project

Plant root diffusional barriers and aquaporins: their combined role in water transport and salt stress tolerance

The regulation of water balance in plants is a key factor for their development and yield. Radial root diffusion of water is limited by the formation of hydrophobic barriers at the endodermis and the exodermis level, as well as by the regulation of aquaporins. Diffusional barriers, such as Casparian strips and suberin lamellae, are formed of lignin and suberin deposition at the endodermis level, and limit extracellular diffusion of water and solutes by providing tight seals between adjacent endodermal cells, and between the cell wall and the plasma membrane, respectively. The presented study is part of an interdisciplinary research program that aims at integrating molecular plant science with analytical chemistry, whole plant physiology and modelling. It will enable a molecularly directed manipulation of Casparian strips and suberin, for what we will use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. With the help of Casparian strips and suberin-like mutants we aim to develop cutting-edge research than can be applied to crop varieties in order to improve their water use efficiency, and their resistance to abiotic stresses. In this particular proposal, we will elucidate the mechanisms involved in the plant water balance under salt stress through the analyses on their endodermal suberin, lignin deposition and aquaporins activity. The experimental plan will be connected to mathematical models under development in order to better measure and predict the role of these physical and chemical barriers in water and solute uptake.

Biography & research interests

I hold a PhD from the University of Alberta (Canada) in plant physiology and water relations with Dr. Janusz Zwiazek. Afterwards, I obtained a Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Ricardo Aroca at the Estación Experimental del Zaidín (CSIC), Spain. From 2015 to April 201, I was an AgreenSkills Fellow working at the BPMP INRA-Montpellier with Dr. Christophe Maurel and Dr. Yann Boursiac. My overall scientific career has been related with the study of plant water relations, at the physiological and molecular level, and in the presence/absence of beneficial plant microorganisms as mycorrhizal fungi. The projects I was involved at the University of Alberta and at the CSIC were both basic-science and applied related projects in collaboration with different Industrial and the Governmental units, that aimed to study the mechanisms of plant tolerance to different soil stresses such as drought, salt and flooding through the regulation of the water channel proteins called aquaporins. My current research interests at INRA are framed into the ERA-CAPS European Project ‘Root Barriers’, where I have developed new knowledge on how root endodermal barriers, Casparian Strip and suberin, alter water and solutes transport properties in close coordination with aquaporins, and impact the development of plants under salt stress. The results are being integrated into a mathematical model on how water is transported within the plant roots in order to predict different scenarios of plant development under stress.

Selected publications

Calvo-Polanco, M., Zhang, WQ., Macdonald, SE., Senorans, J., Zwiazek, JJ., 2017. Boreal forest plant species responses to pH: ecological interpretation and application to reclamation. Plant & Soil, 420 (1-2), 195208.

Calvo-Polanco M, Molina S, Garcia Mina JM, Zamarreño AM, Aroca R. 2017. Interaction between plant ethylene sensitivity and air humidity in regulating water transport in tomato plants. Planta. 246: 987-997.

Calvo-Polanco M, Sanchez-Castro I, Cantos M, Garcia JL, Azcon R, Ruiz-Lozano JM, Beuzon C, Aroca R. 2016. Effects of different arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal backgrounds and soils on olive plants growth and water relation properties under well-watered and drought conditions. Plant Cell and Environment. 39: 2498-2514.

Calvo-Polanco M, Molina S, Zamarreño AM, García-Mina JM, Aroca R. 2014 The symbiosis with the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagusirregularis drives root water transport in flooded tomato plants. Plant and Cell Physiology 55:1017-29

Talks in annual meetings


Molecular physiology, Casparian strips, suberin, water transport, salinity, apoplastic barriers, root radial transport, water stress, Arabidopsis thaliana