Soraya Pelaz

Centre de Recerca en Agrigenòmica (CRAG)

Life & Medical Sciences

Born in Bilbao, started Biology studies in the Basque Country University but moved to Madrid to follow the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry specialty. She obtained her BSc at Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) in 1989. For her PhD studies she joined Dr. Morata's laboratory at the CBM where she performed research on Developmental Genetics working with Drosophila with a Basque Predoctoral fellowship and got the PhD in 1993 at UAM. For her postdoctoral research she moved from flies to flowers by joining Dr. Yanofsky's laboratory at the University of California at San Diego. There she performed Developmental Biology on Arabidopsis with fellowships from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and from the Human Frontiers Science Program Organization. In 2001 she got a "Ramón y Cajal" contract at INIA in Madrid to establish her own line of research in Flower Development. In 2003 she joined ICREA and moved to Barcelona.

Research interests

Floral induction is probably the most important process in plant development since it takes to the formation of flowers and fruits. Flowering must happen in a favorable time of the year to allow successful seed formation and reproduction. Our goal is to elucidate how plants know when to flower in response to a variety of external and endogenous signals and what genes are responsible for the flower development itself. Flowers are composed of four types of organs: sepals, petals, stamens and pistils, whose differentiation is the result of the coordinated action of different genes. Unraveling the intimate mechanisms governing these events became our main interest. As a consequence of our studies in plant development we lately focused on trichomes (plant hairs) as putative biofactories for anticancer and antimalarial compounds. We will generate hairy plants of species known for their anticancer properties with new compounds inside their trichomes to improve anticancer treatments.

Selected publications

– Pulice G, Pelaz S & Matías-Hernández L 2016, ‘Molecular Farming in Artemisia annua, a sustainable approach to improve anti-malarial drug production’, Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 329. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00329.

– Matías-Hernández L, Aguilar-Jaramillo AE, Osnato M, Weinstain R, Shani E, Suárez-López P & Pelaz S 2016, ‘TEMPRANILLO reveals the mesophyll as crucial for epidermal trichome formation’, Plant Physiology, vol. 170, pp 1624-1639.

– Matías-Hernández L, Aguilar-Jaramillo AE, Cigliano RA, Sanseverino W & Pelaz S 2016, ‘Flowering and trichome development share hormonal and transcription factor regulation’, Journal of Experimental Botany, 67, 5, 1209 – 1219.

Selected research activities

Funded Projects

* Proyectos de I+D. Programa Estatal de Fomento de la Investigación Científica y Técnica de Excelencia. Subprograma Estatal de Generación de Conocimiento. Evolution and function of TEMPRANILLO in plant development and adaptive responses. MINECO (BFU2015-64409-P).

* Garante Researcher of Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa (SEV-2015-0533) awarded to CRAG.

* EXPLORA. MINECO. “Hairy but Aromatic” plants: a possible solution to improve cancer treatment. (BIO2013-50388-EXP).

* Redes de Excelencia. MINECO. Red de Floración. (BIO2014-54481REDT).

* Torres Quevedo. MINECO. Use of trichomes as “natural factories” for the pharmaceutical agriculture. A CRAG-Sequentia Collaboration. (PTQ-13-06459).

* SGR (Grups de Recerca Reconeguts i Finançats). AGAUR. Arabidopsis Developmental Genomics. (2014-SGR-1406).


Research Stay

* Visiting Professor at the NYU with a “Co-operative Research Programme” fellowship from OECD.