Plant Stress Tolerance Laboratory


R. Alcázar | A.F. Tiburcio


Polyamines Laboratory

Dear visitor,

Welcome to the Polyamines Lab at the University of Barcelona (UB).

We investigate genetic and molecular mechanisms that enable plants to cope with a variety of environmental stresses. We make use of genetics, molecular biology, natural variation and omics to identify genes, pathways and mechanisms promoting stress tolerance. Derived from our research, we develop new strategies for crop protection. Being protective compounds against stress, we are interested in plant polyamines in our investigations. Polyamine accumulation is a stress metabolic hallmark in plants. In our lab, we're interested in polyamine signaling and mechanistic processes that mediate polyamine effects on plant protection. In addition, we perform collaborative projects with industrial partners on metabolic engineering and train future researchers in the field of plant biotechnology, genetics and genomics through PhD and Master programs hosted at the University of Barcelona.

For a more detailed view of our research, please have a look at our Research and Publications sections. You can follow our activities in the NEWS section. For any other enquires, please contact the project directors.


Plant Polyamines

Our research laboratory has long experience in the field of plant polyamines, for which we performed a number of omics approaches and established genetic evidence for their role in abiotic stress protection.

Our previous research pointed to interactions of polyamines with hormones and other stress-related metabolites. Our current goal is to investigate how polyamines are perceived by the plant, which early signaling components are involved, and how this is shaped by the environment.

We’re making use of genetics, population genetics, molecular biology, pharmaceutical chemistry and plant-microbe interactions to unravel how polyamines are sensed and how this relates to the local microbiota.

Our final goal is to provide novel approaches for crop protection against abiotic and biotic stresses.

Details on current research projects are shown below.

Project (2018-2021): Polyamines in plant defense and plant-microbe interactions.

Polyamines are small protonated amines present in all living organisms. Most abundant polyamines are the diamine putrescine, triamine spermidine and tetraamine spermine and its isomer thermospermine. Polyamine accumulation is one of the most conserved metabolic hallmarks during plant stress. Genetic approaches in the recent years have demonstrated a role for polyamines on protection against abiotic stresses, such as salinity, freezing and drought. However, little is known about their contribution and mode of action during plant defense. We investigate the roles of polyamines in plant defense and plant-microbe interactions, and the involvement of oxidative-dependent pathways on such responses. Through a genetic-based approach, we’re studying the biological implications for polyamines during defense. We’re also identifying the genetic components involved in polyamine signaling, transport or perception. We argue that such type of genetic approaches are missing and are required to establish mechanistic processes for plant polyamines. Finally, we’re studying the roles of polyamines in shaping the microbial composition of the plant rhizosphere. Overall, our research provides an integrative view of plant polyamines in the context of plant-pathogen and plant-microbe interactions.

Funding: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Programa Estatal de I+D+i Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad.


Associate Professor, P.I.

  • Dr. Antonio F. Tiburcio

Full Professor, P.I.

  • Nazanin Arafaty

PhD student

  • Kostadin E. Atanasov

PhD student

  • Changxin Liu

PhD student

  • Fernando Yelamo

Master student (2018/19)

  • Milena Acosta

Master student  (2018/19)



  • Atanasov, K. E., Liu, C., Erban, A., Kopka, J., Parker, J. E., Alcázar, R. (2018). NLR mutations suppressing immune hybrid incompatibility and their effects on disease resistance. Plant Physiology, doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00462.
  • Alcázar and Tiburcio Eds. Polyamines. Methods and Protocols. Springer. Book.
  • Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. Potential Applications of Polyamines in Agriculture and Plant Biotechnology. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:489-508. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_40. Review. PubMed PMID: 29080190.
  • Barboza-Barquero L, Esker P, Alcázar R. Genome-Wide Association Mapping Analyses Applied to Polyamines. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:427-432. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_35. PubMed PMID: 29080185.
  • Atanasov KE, Liu C, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. Generation of EMS-Mutagenized Populations of Arabidopsis thaliana for Polyamine Genetics. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:343-346. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_29. PubMed PMID: 29080179.
  • Bitrián M, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. Determination of Posttranslational Modifications by 2D PAGE: Applications to Polyamines. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:337-341. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_28. PubMed PMID: 29080178.
  • Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. Determination of S-Adenosylmethionine Decarboxylase Activity in Plants. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:123-128. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_12. PubMed PMID: 29080162.
  • Alcázar R, Tiburcio AF. Determination of Arginine and Ornithine Decarboxylase Activities in Plants. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1694:117-122. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7398-9_11. PubMed PMID: 29080161.
  • Lalaleo L, Alcázar R, Palazon J, Moyano E, Cusido RM, Bonfill M. Comparing aryltetralin lignan accumulation patterns in four biotechnological systems of Linum album. J Plant Physiol. 2018 Jun 15;228:197-207. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2018.06.006. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29960916.
  • Lalaleo L, Testillano P, Risueño MC, Cusidó RM, Palazon J, Alcázar R, Bonfill M. Effect of in vitro morphogenesis on the production of podophyllotoxin derivatives in callus cultures of Linum album. J Plant Physiol. 2018 May 18;228:47-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2018.05.007. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29852334.




  • Zarza X, Atanasov KE, Marco F, Arbona V, Carrasco P, Kopka J, Fotopoulos V, Munnik T, Gómez-Cadenas A, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. (2017) Polyamine Oxidase 5 loss-of-function mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana trigger metabolic and transcriptional reprogramming and promote salt stress tolerance. Plant Cell & Environ. 40: 527-542.
  • Sequera-Mutiozabal M, Antoniou C, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R, Fotopoulos V. (2017) Polyamines: Emerging hubs promoting drought and salt stress tolerance in plants. Curr Mol Biol Rep. 1:28-36
  • Treves H, Murik O, Kedem I, Eisenstadt D, Meir S, Rogachev I, Szymanski J, Keren N, Orf I, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R, Aharoni A, Kopka J, Kaplan A. (2017) Metabolic flexibility underpins growth capabilities of the fastest growing alga. Curr. Biol. 27:2559-2567
  • Ariga H, Katori T, Tsuchimatsu T, Hirase T, Tajima Y, Parker JE, Alcázar R, Koornneef M, Hoekenga O, Lipka AE, Gore MA, Sakakibara H, Kojima M, Kobayashi Y, Iuchi S, Kobayashi M, Shinozaki K, Sakata Y, Hayashi T, Saijo Y, Taji T. (2017) NLR locus-mediated trade-off between abiotic and biotic stress adaptation in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants 3:17072



  • Atanasov KE, Barboza-Barquero L, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R (2016) Genome wide association mapping for the tolerance to the polyamine oxidase inhibitor guazatine in Arabidopsis thaliana. Front. Plant Sci.7:40
  • Sequera-Mutiozabal MI, Erban A, Kopka J, Atanasov K, Bastida J, Fotopoulos V, Alcázar R and Tiburcio AF (2016). Global metabolic profiling of Arabidopsis Polyamine Oxidase 4 (AtPAO4) loss-of-function mutants exhibiting delayed dark-induced senescence. Front. Plant Sci. 7:173.
  • Stuttmann J, Peine N, Garcia AV, Wagner C, Choudhury SR, Wang Y, James GV, Griebel T, Alcázar R, Tsuda K, Schneeberger K, Parker JE (2016) Arabidopsis thaliana DM2h (R8) within the Landsberg RPP1-like Resistance locus underlies three different cases of EDS1-conditioned autoimmunity.PLoS Genet.12 :e1005990



  • Marco F, Bitrián M, Carrasco P, Rajam MV, Alcázar R, Tiburcio AF. Genetic Engineering Strategies for Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Plants. In: Plant Biology and Biotechnology Vol.2. Springer 2015. pp:579-610.


  • Alcázar R, von Reth M, Bautor J, Chae E, Weigel D, Koornneef M and Parker JE. (2014) Analysis of a plant complex Resistance gene locus underlying immune-related hybrid incompatibility and its occurrence in nature. PLoS Genet 10(12): e1004848.
  • Alcázar R and Tiburcio AF (2014) Plant polyamines in stress and development: an emerging area of research in plant sciences. Front. Plant Sci. 5:319
  • Tiburcio AF, Altabella T, Bitrián M and Alcázar R. (2014) The Roles of Polyamines during the lifespan of plants:from development to stress. Planta 240:1-18.
  •  Alcazar, R.; Tiburcio, A. F. (2014) Polyamines in stress protection - applications in agriculture in Plant adaptation to environmental change: significance of amino acids and their derivatives Pages: 129-140. CABI; Wallingford; UK. ISBN: 978-1-78064-273-4.


  • Barboza L, Effgen S, Alonso-Blanco C, Kooke R, Keurentjes J, Koornneef M, Alcázar R. (2013) Arabidopsis semi-dwarfs evolved from independent mutations in GA20ox1, orthologue to green revolution dwarf alleles in rice and barley. PNAS 110:15818-23.


  • Alcázar R, Pecinka A, Aarts MG, Fransz PF, Koornneef M. Signals of speciation within Arabidopsis thaliana in comparison with its relatives. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2012 15(2):205-11.
  • Bitrián M, Zarza X, Altabella T, Tiburcio AF, Alcázar R. Polyamines under stress: metabolic crossroads and hormonal crosstalks. Metabolites (new  journal). Metabolites. 2012; 2(3):516-528  


  • Alcázar R, Parker JE. The impact of temperature on balancing immune responsiveness and growth in Arabidopsis. Trends Plant Sci. 2011 Dec;16(12):666-75.
  • Alcázar R, Reymond M, Schmitz G, de Meaux J. Genetic and evolutionary perspectives on the interplay between plant immunity and development. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2011 Aug;14(4):378-84.
  • Marco F, Alcázar R, Tiburcio AF, Carrasco P. Interactions between polyamines and abiotic stress pathway responses unraveled by transcriptome analysis of polyamine overproducers. OMICS. 2011 Nov;15(11):775-81.
  • Alcázar R, Cuevas JC, Planas J, Zarza X, Bortolotti C, Carrasco P, Salinas J, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T. Integration of polyamines in the cold acclimation response. Plant Sci. 2011 Jan;180(1):31-8.
  • Alet AI, Sánchez DH, Ferrando A, Tiburcio AF, Alcazar R, Cuevas JC, Altabella T, Pico FM, Carrasco-Sorli P, Menéndez AB, Ruiz OA. Homeostatic control of polyamine levels under long-term salt stress in Arabidopsis: changes in putrescine content do not alleviate ionic toxicity. Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Feb;6(2):237-42.
  • Alcázar R, Bitrián M, Bartels D, Koncz C, Altabella T, Tiburcio AF. Polyamine metabolic canalization in response to drought stress in Arabidopsis and the resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum. Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Feb;6(2):243-50.



  • Alcázar R, García AV, Kronholm I, de Meaux J, Koornneef M, Parker JE, Reymond M. Natural variation at Strubbelig Receptor Kinase 3 drives immune-triggered incompatibilities between Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. Nat Genet. 2010 Dec;42(12):1135-9.
  • Alcázar R, Altabella T, Marco F, Bortolotti C, Reymond M, Koncz C, Carrasco P, Tiburcio AF. Polyamines: molecules with regulatory functions in plant abiotic stress tolerance. Planta. 2010 May;231(6):1237-49.
  • Alcázar R, Planas J, Saxena T, Zarza X, Bortolotti C, Cuevas J, Bitrián M, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T. Putrescine accumulation confers drought tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis plants over-expressing the homologous Arginine decarboxylase 2 gene. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2010 Jul;48(7):547-52.


  • Cuevas JC, López-Cobollo R, Alcázar R, Zarza X, Koncz C, Altabella T, Salinas J, Tiburcio AF, Ferrando A. Putrescine as a signal to modulate the indispensable ABA increase under cold stress. Plant Signal Behav. 2009 Mar;4(3):219-20.
  • Alcázar R, García AV, Parker JE, Reymond M. Incremental steps toward incompatibility revealed by Arabidopsis epistatic interactions modulating salicylic acid pathway activation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jan 6;106(1):334-9.

2002 to 2008

  •  Berdasco M, Alcázar R, García-Ortiz MV, Ballestar E, Fernández AF, Roldán-Arjona T, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T, Buisine N, Quesneville H, Baudry A, Lepiniec L, Alaminos M, Rodríguez R, Lloyd A, Colot V, Bender J, Canal MJ, Esteller M, Fraga MF. Promoter DNA hypermethylation and gene repression in undifferentiated Arabidopsis cells. PLoS One. 2008 Oct 1;3(10):e3306.
  • Cuevas JC, López-Cobollo R, Alcázar R, Zarza X, Koncz C, Altabella T, Salinas J, Tiburcio AF, Ferrando A. Putrescine is involved in Arabidopsis freezing tolerance and cold acclimation by regulating abscisic acid levels in response to low temperature. Plant Physiol. 2008 Oct;148(2):1094-105.
  • Alcázar R, Marco F, Cuevas JC, Patron M, Ferrando A, Carrasco P, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T. Involvement of polyamines in plant response to abiotic stress. Biotechnol Lett. 2006 Dec;28(23):1867-76.
  • Alcázar R, García-Martínez JL, Cuevas JC, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T. Overexpression of ADC2 in Arabidopsis induces dwarfism and late-flowering through GA deficiency. Plant J. 2005 Aug;43(3):425-36.
  • Bortolotti C, Cordeiro A, Alcázar R, Borrell A, Culiañez-Macià FA, Tiburcio AF, Altabella T. Localization of arginine decarboxylase in tobacco plants. Physiol Plant. 2004 Jan;120(1):84-92.
  • Panicot M, Minguet EG, Ferrando A, Alcázar R, Blázquez MA, Carbonell J, Altabella T, Koncz C, Tiburcio AF. A polyamine metabolon involving aminopropyl transferase complexes in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2002 Oct;14(10):2539-51.


Our laboratory offers one or two positions for Final Master Work (Trabajo de Final de Máster, Treball de Fi de Màster) under the Molecular Biotechnology programme of the University of Barcelona.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Rubén Alcázar to discuss about the projects available.



Our research laboratory is permanently recruiting PhD and postdoctoral researchers.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Rubén Alcázar to discuss about the different possibilities available.

We offer PhD students excellent training in cutting-edge techniques in plant biology through dedicated PhD programs at the University of Barcelona. If you want to work on plant polyamines, this is your place!

Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de Barcelona

Secció de Fisiologia Vegetal. Edifici A, 2a planta.

Avda Joan XXIII, 27-31

08028 Barcelona, Spain

Tel. +34934024492

e-mail: Rubén Alcázar