Genetics Experts

Esperanza Martínez Romero

Ecological Genomics Program
Center for Genomic Sciences


Dr. Esperanza Martínez-Romero was a pioneer in the use of molecular markers and gene sequences to describe new bacterial species. Her group discovered and described Rhizobium tropici species with outstanding characteristics (stress resistance, genomic stability and high nitrogen fixing capabilities) to be used as P. vulgaris bean inoculants. R. tropici is used in Brazil and in Africa in the N2 for Africa project sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Bean is the most widely used legume for human nutrition worldwide. Dr. Esperanza Martínez-Romero has performed and intensive survey of bean nodule populations not only in Mexico but in many regions. She described the Nod factors (key molecules in symbiosis) from bean nodulating bacteria. Interestingly she described that bean nodulating bacteria are also maize endophytes and contribute fixed nitrogen to maize. Nitrogen fixation in cereals is a long wished goal. A better knowledge of rhizobial interaction with maize is derived from Dr. Martinez-Romero’s studies on transcriptomics and gene expression of rhizobia on maize roots in comparison to gene expression on bean roots. In addition, she has described many previously unknown bacteria from tropical plants, not only legumes and proposed evolutionary paths for rhizobia. Dr. Esperanza Martínez-Romero described a sister species of Klebsiella. pneumonia, K. variicola which is found in human patients and associated to different plant species and is a plant growth promoter. She has warned about the use of this human pathogen in agriculture.. Dr. Esperanza Martínez-Romero’s interests extend to fungi and virus, and has described novel virus from native Mexican archaea. She has also undertaken studies on novel insect endosymbionts and explored their functions by genomics and transcriptomics and proposed parallelisms between plant and insect symbiosis. Her research includes basic and applied work highly required in developing countries. She has been a provider of Rhizobium strains of the species she has described for many years to many different laboratories and bacterial collections. Novel symbionts have been found in her laboratory from arthropods that are native to Mexico and their transcriptomes are being analyzed. She has published over 160 papers with 10 000 citations and has an H index of 58.

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