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Research Interests

  • Lignin conversion by fungi and bacteria to value-added compounds (Figure 1)

  • Ligninolytic enzymes: a tool for lignin depolymerization (Figure 1)

  • Biomass sugars upgrading to advanced biofuels and valuable co-products (Figure 2)

  • Development of fermentation strategies to produce diverse organic acids (i.e. succinic acid, muconic acid, hexanoic acid) by various organisms (i.e., Actinobacillus succinogenes, Basfia succiniciproducens, Pseudomonas putida, and Clostridium sp.)

Flow chart showing a central photo of neon-green ligninolytic microbes with circular arrows moving clockwise from the microbes photo to "laccases and peroxidases" to "lignin depolymerization" to "catabolism of aromatic monomers"  past molecular forumlas for muconic acid and fatty acids, back to the microbes photo. On the left is a photo of fingers holding a glass vial of a brown liquid. The lower portion of the chart reads "lignin-rich stream" with an arrow pointing right toward the microbes photo and the another arrow pointing right from the microbes photo to "for fuels and chemicals."

Figure 1: We are developing tools and engineering microbes to enhance lignin depolymerization and thus facilitate lignin conversion to value-added compounds. These efforts are directed to strengthen the concept "lignin consolidated bioprocessing" as the scheme shows.

Flow chart that starts at the top with "corn stover" leading to two options: "deacetylation" or "dilute acid pretreatment." This leads to two pathways: 1) "C5-hydrolysates" to "succinate production" (with a photo of two glass jars with brown liquids) to "separations and catalysis upgrading  chemicals," or 2) "C6-solids" to "enzymatic hydrolysis" to "upgrading, fuels and chemicals."

Figure 2: We are producing chemical building blocks from biomass sugars such as succinic acid. The scheme also shows the pretreatment and production process of xylose-enriched hydrolyzates that we are currently using to biologically produce succinic acid.

Areas of Expertise

  • Biological approaches for lignin valorization

    • Fungal and bacterial ligninolytic enzymes (production, enzyme assays, kinetics)

    • Proteomics

    • Biomass characterization

  • Fermentation development

    • Diverse strategies (i.e., batch, fed-batch, continuous)

    • Diverse modes (i.e., aerobic, anaerobic)

    • Online/downstream separations


  • Ph.D., Microbiology (Biology), University Complutense de Madrid, 2008

  • B.S., Biology, University of Alcalá de Henares, 2002

Professional Experience

  • Staff Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Bioenergy Center (NBC), Golden, CO, USA, 2014

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, NREL, NBC, 2014

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Biological Research Center (CIB-CSIC), Madrid, Spain, 2013

  • Ph.D. Student, CIB-CSIC, 2008–2013

  • Visiting Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo, Finland, 2011

  • Visiting Scientist, Pennsylvania State University, State College, USA, 2010

  • Intern, Merck Sharp & Dhome, Madrid, Spain, 20072008

  • Intern, Microbiology Module, University of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain, 20062007

Featured Publications

  1. "Continuous succinic acid production by Actinobacillus succinogenes on xylose-enriched hydrolysate," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2015)

  2. "Succinic acid production on xylose-enriched biorefinery streams by Actinobacillus succinogenes in batch fermentation," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2015)

  3. "Towards lignin consolidated bioprocessing: simultaneous lignin depolymerization and product generation by bacteria," Green Chemistry (2015)

  4. "Differential proteomic analysis of the secretome of Irpex lacteus and other white-rot fungi during wheat straw pretreatment," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2013)

  5. "Analysis of the relation between the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin content and the thermal behavior of residual biomass from olive trees," Waste Management (2013)

  6. "Characterization of a novel dye-decolorizing peroxidase (DyP)-type enzyme from Irpex lacteus and its application in enzymatic hydrolysis of wheat straw," Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2013)

  7. "Versatile peroxidase as a valuable tool for generating new biomolecules by homogeneous and heterogeneous cross-linking," Enzyme and Microbial Technology (2013)

  8. "Sugar recoveries from wheat straw following treatments with the fungus Irpex lacteus," Bioresource Technology (2013)

  9. "Optimisation of the biological pretreatment of wheat straw with white-rot fungi for ethanol production," Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering (2012)

  10. "Structures of wall heterogalactomannans isolated from three genera of entomopathogenic fungi," Fungal Biology (2011)

  11. "Fungal pretreatment: An alternative in second-generation ethanol from wheat straw," Bioresource Technology (2011)