Jaime Barros-Rios



Assistant Professor

Division of Plant Science and Technology

Research at a glance

Area(s) of Expertise

Research Summary

Plant Biology, Biochemistry, Plant Metabolic and Genetic Engineering, Plant Specialized Metabolism, Lignin.

The Barros laboratory is dedicated to conducting both fundamental research and applied biotechnology to tackle global challenges such as food security, climate change and the sustainable production of energy and commodity chemicals.

Our work in the lab revolves around three main objectives:

  1. Enhancing stress tolerance, forage quality and CO2 sequestration in food and feed crops.
  2. Developing bioenergy crops to achieve sustainable production of fuels, chemicals and bioproducts.
  3. Generating trees with improved properties for the production of paper pulp.

The primary focus of our research lies in understanding the metabolic processes related to plant cell wall composition, specifically focusing on the biosynthesis of lignin and other phenolic compounds. Lignin, a heterogeneous aromatic polymer derived from the Latin word “lignum” meaning wood, is the second most abundant biopolymer in nature and constitutes up to 40% of the dry weight of plants. It plays crucial roles in providing mechanical support, facilitating water and nutrient transport through the plant’s vascular system, and aiding plant responses to environmental stresses. Given its significance in plants and unique chemical properties, lignin represents an attractive resource for renewable energy conversion and serves as a target for CO2 storage and sequestration.

Within our laboratory, we primarily focus on genetically manipulating lignin within plant cell walls. To achieve this, we utilize Arabidopsis, Brachypodium, maize, and poplar as model systems to discover and validate genes involved in lignin biosynthesis. Our ultimate goal is to translate this knowledge into practical applications through plant breeding, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology programs.

We firmly believe that plant biochemistry, genetics, and biotechnology are essential disciplines that can accelerate the transition from a fossil-based economy to a more sustainable post-petroleum world. By leveraging our understanding of these fields, we strive to contribute to the development of enhanced food crops, renewable energy sources, and environmentally friendly chemical production.

Educational background

  • Ph.D. Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Vigo, Spain
  • M.S. Biostatistics, University of Vigo, Spain
  • B.S. Forestry, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain