Recent Projects

University of Leipzig


Project funded by the iDiv Flexpool Support Fund, to conduct a collaborative project with Dr. Martina Herrmann, Dr. Susanne Dunker and Prof. Beate Michalzik at the Leipzig Canopy Crane. The aim is to  identify the origin of bioaerosols in different seasons of the year.

Sampling in the field of the Leipzig Canopy Crane (Image by Bhavana Valth Bhuan Das)


Funding from the European Project EUROCHAMP2020 to conduct bioaerosols analysis at ACTRIS Aerosol, Cloud and Trace Gas Research Infrastructure: ChAMBRe, in collaboration with the Research group: INFN Genoa. Bioparticle aerosolisation shall be analysed under different and controlled conditions.

Inside of ChAMBRe. (Image taken from the website:

2023 - Present 

Funding from the "Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Kultur und Tourismus" (SMWK; in English "Ministry of Science, Culture and Tourism of the State of Saxony") to carry out environmental sampling in the tree canopy and to relate the diversity and content of bioaerosols to climate change phenomena.

2022 - Present 

Junior Professorship at the University of Leipzig to study the Biodiversity of the Atmosphere.  

It's time to fill the new lab with molecular biology and biotechnology equipment to start working! Looking through the catalogues to select the best and most practical equipment!


Laboratory under construction! 

(Image by Freepick)

Past Projects

University of Graz

The wonderful world of Protista contains organisms such as amoebae. We usually think of them as microscopic, aquatic and generally unknown organisms. However, there are some amoebae such as Physarum polycephalum that during their life cycle present a macroscopic stage. And not only macroscopic, but multinucleate. It is also characterised by its capacity of continue growth and colonising all the space that is put in front of itself. 

Some have compared it to THE BLOB of the cinema!

This amoeba has been of interest to scientists for years, not only because of its striking colour, which ranges from yellow to orange, but also because of its capacity for habituation and even "learning". Yes, it is a single-celled organism, with learning capacities. 

However and although it has been studied for many years, its genome and genetic changes adapted to the new situations are still largely unknown.

Therefore, the aim of this project, conducted at the University of Graz (Austria), was to develop a protocol to extract nucleic acids from Physarum polycephalum: a unicellular and multinucleate organism. This has been useful to perform de novo sequencing and transcriptomic studies.

Publications in preparation


Cytoplasmic pulses of Physarum polycephalum seen as heartbeats (video: Beatriz Sánchez-Parra).

Photos of Physarum polycephalum growing in water-agar plates (photos: Beatriz Sánchez-Parra)

Max-Planck Institute of Chemistry

During my time at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Mainz (Germany), I was able to analyse the atmospheric biodiversity of different parts of the world: from the island of Cyprus to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

The objective was to use the newest molecular biology and sequencing techniques, to find out which microorganisms are found in the air of these marvellous places. 

Who wouldn't be fascinated to know how far a microorganism can travel in the air, or how its presence influences the formation of clouds and atmospheric processes?

Some articles describing these results are shown below

a) Study about the effects of a short period with rain events on bioaerosol and atmospheric IN composition in a rural dryland. Aerosol samples of boundary layer air were collected on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in April 2016. The taxonomic composition of bioaerosols was determined by shotgun metagenomic sequencing and analysis. Ice nuclei were measured using the high-throughput Twin-plate Ice Nucleation Assay (TINA). 

The results show how as a short rain event can affect to all the biodiversity present in the atmosphere: bacteria decrease while the presence of fungal spores increase. Could the bioaerosols detected act as Ice Nuclei Particles? To know more, check the publication (link under the graphic in the right part).

b) In a collaborative work with colleagues from Brazil, a 16S rRNA gene-based amplicon sequencing approach was carried out to investigate the bacterial microbiome in Amazonian rainforest aerosols during different seasons and at different altitudes above the ground.

Rainforest air contains some very abundant bacterial groups, such as Proteobacteria and Firmicutes. However, in the soil, Acidobacteria were one of the most abundant groups of bacteria that appeared.

The work shows seasonal differences in the bacterial component of air samples collected under the canopy.

a) Taxonomic composition of Bioaerosols in Cyprus.

Biogeosciences, 19, 71–91 (2022)

b) Taxonomic composition of Bioaerosols in the Amazon rainforest.

Sci Total Environ, 760, 144092 (2021)

Technical School of Industrial Engineering - Politécnica University of Madrid

The biological composition of the air has been analysed for years, especially since existing pollen grains started to be counted, in order to warn the population of possible allergy peaks. However, there are differences depending on the ascent? Are there more different particles near the ground, from where they are aerosolised, or do they accumulate in the upper layers of the atmosphere? 

a) To answer these questions, we conducted a study where we analysed at different heights, from the ground up to 1 km high, which particles made up the atmosphere with the help of a light aircraft. The bioaerosol composition at each height was analysed by High-throughput Sequencing and the posible interactions between bioparticles was also deducted (see link in the right part)

b) Nowadays, when you go to relax in a spa, go into a swimming-pool, or even visit a patient in hospital, you are exposed to the presence of pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila bacteria. The presence and growth of such bacteria, in particular, is controlled by protocols stipulated by law. However, these protocols detect it when the bacterial mass is so large that it means there is an outbreak that needs to be eliminated. This often leads to the temporary closure of the places where it has been found. But if would were it possible to foresee that an outbreak was going to occur in advance? It would be wonderful, for the spa, swimming-pools, hospitals..., because they would not have to close, and for the customers/patients, because they would not run any risk of becoming infected.

Although it seems impossible, we at ETSII have developed a protocol that allows us to detect Legionella pneumophila bacteria in the air in less than 24h!! More information can be found in the link to the paper, posted in the right part and also in the video below. The last one explained in details how the protocol, already the patent: "LegionAir-Detect" works.

a) Analysis of three biological particles at four different heights (1.5 m, 130 m, 500 m and 1000 m) by high-throughput DNA sequencing.

Atmos Res, 249, 105306 (2021)

b) Protocol of two subsequent PCRs to detect and identify 16S rRNA of Legionella pneumophila in air samples without previous culture.

Environ Res, 171: 546-549 (2019)

Centre of Biotecnology and Genomic of Plants - Politécnica University of Madrid

During my international PhD studies in plant biology of Arabidopsis thaliana, I studied the AMI1 gene and other related genes involved in the biosynthesis of the plant hormone Auxin. This hormone is important for plant development from the time of germination. Initially, little was known about the function of the AMI1 gene and its involvement in this biosynthesis, but now, thanks to the continued work of the past and current members of Dr. Pollmann's group at the CBGP, it is known that this gene is also involved in relationships with other plant hormones, such as ABA, coordinating the balance between plant growth and stress responses.

The figure shows one of several publications describing the role of AMI1 in IAA biosynthesis. To know more details about other related publications, check the publication's page.

Proposed anabolic routes for IAA biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. 

J Exp Bot, 72 (2): 459–475 (2021)

Complutense University of Madrid- Biology Faculty 

Today, agricultural production is adversely affected by extensive droughts, increasing temperatures and other effects caused by climate change. But the chemical composition of soils, in which crops are grown, is also very important.

Rye (Secale cereale) is a plant that is high resistant to Aluminium, an element that in fact is quite present in the soil where it is usually grown, in comparison to other crops such as wheat or rice. However, all rye varieties don't show the same resistance to the same concentrations of Aluminium. 

During my Bachelor final thesis, I carried out a research project in molecular biology, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Benito at the UCM, to sequence and study two new superoxide dismutase genes in several rye varieties that could be involved in aluminium tolerance in rye: ScCu/ZnSOD and ScMnSOD

Dendrogram obtained with the hypothetical proteins corresponding to the MnSOD, Cu/ZnSOD and FeSOD genes in several Poaceae species and other monocot and dicot plant species.

Plant Biol, 17 (3):694-702 (2015)