Plant Biotechnology Laboratory

College of Biological and Environmental Sciences
About us

The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory develops different research projects, in order to better understand the existing biodiversity in the country, conserve species and ecosystems, and improve existing agricultural practices.

The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory carries out various research projects using mainly molecular biology tools and in vitro cultivation of plants. The main focus of the Laboratory is plants, therefore interested researchers and students have the opportunity to develop projects and initiatives in this field. Furthermore, the Laboratory collaborates with researchers from other areas to carry out interdisciplinary studies, mainly related to animal genetic diversity.

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Mission

To develop quality research projects with species important to the country's agriculture, environment, conservation and economy.

Objectives

Our main objectives are: To better understand the existing biodiversity in the country, to conserve species and ecosystems, and to contribute to the improvement of existing agricultural practices.

Research

Plant Genetic Diversity

We focus on the study of the existing plant biodiversity in the country for the conservation of species and ecosystems and for applications in the improvement of agricultural practices.

Some of the investigations we carry out are:

  • Preliminary determination of the genetic diversity of guayabillo (Psidium galapageium) and guava (Psidium guajava) in the Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal Islands, Galapagos, comparison of guava diversity with samples collected from various provinces of continental Ecuador
  • Genetic diversity study of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) from 8 provinces of the Ecuadorian Sierra
  • Standardization of specific SSR primers for Ilex guayusa
  • Standardization of specific primers for the amplification of SSR regions in mortiño (Vaccinium floribundum Kunth)
  • Genetic diversity study of mortiño (Vaccinium floribundum Kunth) in the Ecuadorian Sierra

Gene expression

We investigated gene expression in certain plant species to understand resistance mechanisms to different environmental conditions. For example, we carry out the following project:

Relative quantification of the expression of salinity tolerance candidate genes in tree tomato (Solanum betaceum) using the RT-qPCR technique

In-vitro cultivation 

We are interested in investigating the propagation and regeneration of different plant species in-vitro for applications in improving agricultural practices.

Some of the projects that are being carried out in the laboratory are:

  • In-vitro regeneration of naranjilla (Solanum quitoense) from explants of hypocotyls, petioles, and apical buds
  • In-vitro micropropagation of Ilex guayusa through nodal segments
  • In-vitro micropropagation of caimito (Pouteria caimito)
  • In-vitro propagation of mortiño (Vaccinium floribundum Kunth)

Self-incompatibility

We are investigating self-incompatibility in black cherry (prunus serotina) in two projects:

  • A phenotypic preliminary study of black cherry gametophytic self-incompatibility (Prunus serotina subsp. Capouli)
  • Molecular characterization of the S-RNase gene in capouli (Prunus serotina subsp. Capouli)

Animal Genetic Diversity

We collaborate with different researchers inside and outside USFQ to study the genetics of different animal groups. We are currently involved in the following projects:

  • Genetic diversity of the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) in the Metropolitan District of Quito through the analysis of mitochondrial DNA
  • Genetic diversity of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) between Ecuador and Mexico using microsatellite loci
  • Genetic diversity and population structure of Manta birostris in Isla de la Plata, Ecuador
  • Genetic diversity of whales

Publications

Peer-reviewed journals 

Jennifer Fiallos-Jurado, Jacob Pollier, Tessa Moses,  Philipp Arendt, Noelia Barriga-Medina, Eduardo Morillo, Venancio Arahana, Maria de Lourdes Torres, Alain Goossens. 2016. Saponin determination, expression analysis, and functional characterization of saponin biosynthetic genes in Chenopodium quinoa leaves. Plant Science. 250: 188 – 197.

María Mercedes Cobo, Bernardo Gutiérrez, Andrés F. Torres, María de Lourdes Torres. 2016. Preliminary analysis of the genetic diversity and population structure of mortiño (Vaccinium floribundum Kunth). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 64: 14 – 21.

Juan J. Guadalupe, Bernardo Gutiérrez, Dámaris P. Intriago-Baldeón, Venancio Arahana, José Tobar, Andrés F. Torres, María de Lourdes Torres. 2015. Genetic diversity and distribution patterns of Ecuadorian capouli (Prunus serotina). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 60: 67-73.

Estefanía Espinosa Mata, Stella de la Torre, Venancio S. Arahana B., María de Lourdes Torres P. 2015. Evaluation of the stress level in young lions (Cebuella pygmaea) by measuring cortisol in feces. Advances in Science and Engineering. 7 (2): B24-B29. link

Joely Vega, Venancio S. Arahana B., María de Lourdes Torres. 2015. Standardization of a protocol for the regeneration of shallot onion (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) from apical meristems. Advances in Science and Engineering. 7 (1): B24 - B31. link

Milton Gordillo, José Tobar, Venancio S. Arahana B., María de Lourdes Torres. 2015. Identification of S alleles associated with self-incompatibility in cocoon (Prunus serótina subsp. Capoulí) individuals by amplifying Intron I of the S-RNase gene. Advances in Science and Engineering. 7 (1): B17 - B23. link

Viviana Jaramillo, Venancio Arahana and María de Lourdes Torres. 2014. Determination of the level of tolerance to salinity in vitro conditions of tree tomato plants (Solanum betaceum) from different locations in the Ecuadorian Sierra. Advances in Science and Engineering. 6 (1): B44-B50. link

María de Lourdes Torres P., Lorena Mejía, Venancio S. Arahana B. 2013. Standardization of a protocol for GMO detection: evaluation of the presence of GMOs in soybeans collected in different collection centers in Ecuador. Advances in Science and Engineering. 5 (1): B40 - B48. link

Venancio S. Arahana B., Nicolás Bastidas, María de Lourdes Torres P., Pedro González. 2013. Genetic diversity of an entomopathogenic fungi collection from Ecuador using a modified AFLP approach. Advances in Science and Engineering. 5 (1): B49 - B57. link

Cristina Salgado, Venancio Arahana, José Tobar, Bernardo Gutiérrez, María de Lourdes Torres. 2013. Employing molecular markers to identify Monilinia fructicola in Ecuadorian peach orchards. Australasian Plant Disease Notes. 8 (1): 149 - 152. link

Activities

Naturae Love 2017

Practical Workshop on Plant Biotechnology - Germination of in-vitro seeds

Workgroup

  • Alejandro Alvear
  • Gabriela Bruque
  • Juan Salazar
  • Liseth Salazar
  • Milton Gordillo
  • Nina Espinosa de los Monteros
  • Alison Reinoso
  • Analía Espín
  • Andrea Argudo
  • Andrea Soria
  • Carlos Vintimilla
  • Carolina Cazco
  • Carolina Jaramillo
  • Daniela Rojas
  • Darío Cueva
  • Diego Urquía
  • Izán Chalen
  • Juan Esteban Zurita
  • Lisa Correa
  • Martín Terán
  • Michelle Rodríguez
  • Miguel Orellana
  • Nathalia Valencia
  • Pamela Vega
  • Ricardo Campoverde
  • Sebastián Vinueza
  • Sofía Donoso
  • Verónica Baquero
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