21st, 24th and 27th of April: guest lecturer Myriam Catalá lectures about stress of lichens and its symbionts

We are pleased to invite you to the lectures of guest lecturer, Myriam Catalá Rodríguez, Associate professor in Cell Biology - Biodiversity and Conservation Area, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid.

She will hold 3 lectures in the period 21 - 27 April. Everyone is welcome to attend, especially students!


Lecture schedule and brief introduction:

Friday, 21 April, 15:00 - 16:00, room D-239, Kreutzwaldi 5 (Metsamaja), Tartu, Eesti Maaülikool
„Insights into NO biosynthesis in lichens and phycobionts“.     

NO is key in biotic and abiotic stress responses and is also involved in the establishment of symbioses like Rhizobium-legume and plant-mycorrhizae. In lichens, we have shown that NO release increases during rehydration and in the presence of pollutants. NO biosynthesis is mainly catalysed by nitrate reductase (NR) in plants and NO-synthase (NOS) in animals but is unexplored in lichens. Our recent results show that R. farinacea and its isolated phycobionts exhibit a complex pattern of NO biosynthesis with the participation of both NOS-like and NR-like enzymatic activity involving both canonical and non-canonical NR isoforms.

The lecture is counted as part of the study course PK.0659 (doctoral level) Plant physiology.


Monday, 24 April,  10:00 - 11:00,  room D-143, Kreutzwaldi 5 (Metsamaja), Tartu, Eesti Maaülikool
„Water structure in the tolerance to desiccation of lichens and phycobionts“.

Lichen and its phycobionts (aeroterrestrial microalgae) can survive in a state of dehydration (anhydrobiosis), but a modest progress has been made in understanding their molecular mechanisms. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) allows the analysis of the metabolomic profile of cells, providing a unique global molecular fingerprint (GMF) that allows both the characterization of taxonomic traits and stress-derived metabolomic changes. Recently, together with NIR aquaphotomics, it has allowed in-depth analysis of molecular and water structure differences between common and “resurrection” plants. We will show our advances on the elucidation of the lichen Ramalina farinacea’s GMF and the molecular structure of water during dehydration of lichen phycobionts.

Open seminar of the Chair of Plant and Crop Science (Students and academic staff).       

The lecture is counted as part of the study course PK.1667 (Bachelor level)/PK.0659 (doctoral level) Plant physiology.

Thursday, 27 April, 11:00 - 12:00,           room 2B27, Kreutzwaldi 5 (Metsamaja), Tartu, Eesti Maaülikool
„Cell signalling in symbiotic asssociations: metabolic waste recovery and circular economy“.

Lynn Margulis began at a very young age her scientific career and will be remembered for having developed the role of symbiosis as a source of evolutionary innovation. Her pioneering works of the 1960s favoured the progressive acceptance of the origin of complex eukaryotic cells. Nowadays symbioses like Rhizobium-legume and plant-mycorrhizae are key both for global ecology as well as human agronomy. The establishment of a symbiotic association needs of cellular mechanisms allowing the symbionts to recognize each other, coordinate and benefit mutually. This adaptive mechanism may seem long, winding and complex, but the study of the simple biochemical and molecular pathways ruling the cellular dynamics may help unveil this mystery.

The lecture is counted as part of the study course PK.1667 (Bachelor level)/PK.0659 Plant physiology.        

Associate Professor Myriam Catalá Rodríguez's visit has been financed by EU Regionaal Development Fund,  Estonian University of Life Sciences, Astra Project "Value chain-based bioeconomy".


Myriam Catalá

PhD in Chemical Sciences, specialising in Biochemistry (1993). PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Lecturer in Cell Biology at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC). Her interest in the study of oxidative stress and nitric oxide dates back to her PhD when research on free radicals and the cellular oxidative state had just begun in biomedicine. She worked on the determination of glutathione and antioxidant enzyme activity and its relationship with NO in rat models of endotoxic shock, both in vivo and in vitro, using a variety of tools including flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. In the following years, her interest in free radicals and NO metabolism and regulation was reinforced, and the study models were also expanded: from vertebrates to invertebrates, from mammals to fish, and from plants to lichens and microalgae. The development of new sensitive biomarkers for the assessment of environmental toxicity led her to study free radical release and lipid peroxidation in response to emerging pollutants and micropollutants. She led the first descriptive work on the presence of pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs in river waters of Madrid and Toledo, as well as cutting-edge work on the sublethal effects of these substances on plant development. Her current line of research has described the release and regulation of NO during the rehydration of lichens and the role of pollutants such as Pb and cumene hydroperoxide in the alteration of this process. She has recently carried on the first study on the possible enzymatic sources of NO in lichens, which points to nitrate reductase as the main source with the participation of an L-arginine-dependent activity (NOS-like). These results have provided the first evidence supporting the hypothesis formulated by Martin & Feelisch in Trends in Ecology and Evolution that postulates a role for NO as a key molecule in symbiogenesis. She is the author of more than 45 scientific articles, 7 international book chapters and 4 patents.

Prof. Myriam Catalá

Associate professor in Cell Biology - Biodiversity and Conservation Area

Dept. of Biology & Geology, Physics and Inorganic Chemistry