The group led by Professor Rodríguez-Valera possesses vast experience in molecular ecology and diversity of marine and saline environments, and was one of the first to apply amplification techniques of the RNA 16S ribosomal RNA gene to the study of coastal lagoons (European projects CLEAN, MIRACLE, and GEMINI). Since that time, it has continued to provide information on both marine and halophilic bacteria and archaea, and standing out is the discovery of new groups of bacteria and archaea in deep Antarctic waters, as well as the proposal for a new theory of microbial biodiversity in natural habitats. The exploration of microbial diversity that began late last century by PCR and 16S rRNA sequencing continues today with metagenomics, which permits sequencing genes representative of habitats of interest by sequencing DNA extracted directed from natural communities (rather than cultures). We entered this field at the beginning and have published several papers and reviews on the subject.
For several years, work was done on improving one of the first marine biogeographic databases (Micro-Mar), which compiled information on thousands of environmental sequences obtained in the laboratory and in other research published on different oceans. This database, along with others, has served as a model for current databases, and this work was rewarded by receiving recognition by the Census of Marine Life international initiative, and inclusion of the group in the CAMERA project as one of the top advisers in the Global Ocean Survey. We have been publishing constantly on molecular ecology since 1994 and on metagenomics since 2002.
We are also a leading group in the field of genomics and bioinformatics, and have collaborated internationally for sequencing the Haloquadratum walsbyi and Salinibacter ruber genomes, and more recently, that of Alteromonas macleodii (deep ecotype that we describe in this laboratory, specifically in samples from the deep Mediterranean). We have collaborated with other research groups, mainly in European projects with between 3 and 9 participating research centers, such as CLEAN, ROBUST, MIDAS, MIRACLE, and GEMINI, and acted as coordinator in some of these. Over the past decade, we have received both predoctoral and postdoctoral foreign visitors interested in the training that a laboratory such as this can provide. Furthermore, the group collaborates with Uppsala University (Sweden), Dalhousie University (Canada), Max Planck Institute (Germany), The Institute for Genomic research (TIGR, USA), University of California, San Diego (USA), and various groups of Brazilian and Mexican universities. Meanwhile, the laboratory contributes to the Census of Marine Life international initiative financed by the Sloan Foundation. Professor Rodríguez-Valera is one of the Advisory Board members at said initiative.
Because we are currently involved in several projects, our objectives as a group include the following: metagenomic exploration in different environments, such as, for example, a model system with very low diversity (the crystallizer of a solar salt), from a marine environment (Mediterranean Sea), and the first exploration of still pristine fresh water environments (Amazon basin); geographic comparative studies of different isolates of A. macleodii employing techniques from both the fields of genomics and bioinformatics; screenings of libraries in search of antimicrobials and possible antitumorals; and lastly, the study of the pan-genome and development of models of prokaryotic genome dynamics using their genomic comparative and genomic metagenomic study of a model system with low diversity that is the crystallizer of a solar salt.