Elena Baena-Gonzalez

Elena Baena-Gonzalez

Tutorial Fellow in Plant Sciences
Biological Sciences
DPhil (Turku)

I joined New College as a Tutorial Fellow in Biology in 2022. I am originally Spanish and moved to Finland to do my undergraduate studies at the University of Oulu and my DPhil at the University of Turku. I then went to Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School for postdoctoral training before I established my own research group in 2008 at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science in Portugal. 


I tutor undergraduate students at New College on various topics in Biology. I supervise third- and fourth-year research proposals and projects for Biology students, and graduate students in the Biology Department. 

Research Interests

Research in my laboratory aims to understand how plants sense the levels of available nutrients (e.g. carbon and nitrogen) and how they use that information to modify their physiology, growth and development. Carbon assimilated through photosynthesis provides energy to support plant growth but also generates signals that instruct plant behaviour. For example, flowering is delayed if the 'energy budget' is low, as this signals to the plant that conditions are not propitious to produce progeny. Many environmental stresses, including drought, flooding, and extreme temperatures, decrease photosynthetic capacity, reducing the energy budget of the plant. This, in turn, slows down growth and development whilst inducing protective responses that allow the plant to cope with stress. 

Our lab is focused on one particular energy-sensing system (the SnRK1 signalling pathway) that is crucial for stress tolerance and that is also involved in the regulation of key growth and developmental traits such as root architecture, flowering time, senescence, or seed filling. Our projects aim to understand how this system is regulated (by energy signals, hormones, others) or how it regulates stress responses and specific aspects of plant growth and development. Unravelling such mechanisms is crucial to understanding plant developmental plasticity (how the same plant can look so different depending on where it grows). It can also provide new means to develop plants that are more resistant to stresses like drought or nutrient-poor soils. 

Selected Major Publications

Find a full list of Elena's publications here

Belda-Palazón B, Costa M, Beeckman T, Rolland F, Baena-González E (2022) ABA represses TOR and root meristem activity through nuclear exit of the SnRK1 kinase. PNAS 119: e2204862119

Peixoto B, Moraes TA, Mengin V, Margalha L, Vicente R, Feil R, Höhne M, Sousa AGG, Lilue J, Stitt M, Lunn JE, and Baena-González E (2021) Impact of the SnRK1 protein kinase on sucrose homeostasis and the transcriptome during the diel cycle. Plant Phys 187, 1357-1373

Belda-Palazón B, Adamo M, Valerio C, Ferreira L, Confraria A, Reis-Barata D, Rodrigues A, Meyer C, Rodrigues PL and Baena-González E (2020) A dual function of SnRK2 kinases in the regulation of SnRK1 and plant growth. Nature Plants 6, 1345-1353

Crozet P, Margalha L, Butow R, Fernandes N, Elias A, Orosa B, Tomanov K, Teige M, Bachmair A, Sadanandom A, and Baena-González E (2016) SUMOylation represses SnRK1 signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant J 85, 120-133 

Rodrigues A, Adamo M, Crozet P, Margalha L, Confraria A, Martinho C, Elias A, Rabissi A, Lumbreras V, González-Guzmán M, Antoni R, Rodriguez PL, and Baena-González E (2013) ABI1 and PP2CA phosphatases are negative regulators of SnRK1 signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 25, 3871-3884 

Baena-González E, Rolland F, Thevelein J, and Sheen J (2007) A central integrator of transcription networks in plant stress and energy signaling. Nature 448: 938-942

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