Irene Merino

PhD in Plant Biotechnology

Irene Merino Sierra

PhD in Plant biotechnology with more than ten years of experience in molecular biology handling proteomic, genomic and transcriptomic techniques.

Up to now my research work has been mainly focused on different demanding topics within forest biotechnology: phytoremediation, biomass production, tree breeding selection, abiotic stress tolerance and plant propagation through somatic embryogenesis. During my postdoctoral training at SLU I also gained knowledge in statistical analyses and bioinformatics tools for sequencing data analysis.

I am passionate about applied science and I am always looking for opportunities to continue learning and acquiring new skills.

You can connect with me via or via LinkedIn, or download my résumé (PDF) .

2014 PhD, Plant Biotechnology Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
2008 Research Proficiency Award: DEA Forestry School of Madrid
2007 MSc, Biotechnology and Genetic Resources of Plants and their Associated Microorganisms, Agronomy and Forestry Schools of Madrid - Program with the Excellence Award of the Department of Education of Spain’s Government Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
2002 BSc, School of Environmental Sciences University of Cordoba
Postdoctoral Researcher August 2014 – November 2016 SLU, Uppsala

Working within the framework of the EU project ProCoGen.

Responsible for experimental design and conducting the experiments of the ProCoGen project focused on identifying relevant processes and transcripts involved in embryo development in Scots pine by using transcriptomic and genetic tools. Supervising and article writing.

Research scientist February 2013 – April 2014 UPM, Madrid

Working within the framework of the EU project BIOXISOIL. “New approach to soil remediation by combining biological and chemical oxidation processes”.

Responsible for selecting tree species for phytoremediation of the polluted area by performing different trial assays in greenhouses. Plantation design. Contacting plant nurseries and supervision of the plantation on-site. Sampling collection, data analyses and results report writing.

Research scientist September 2010 - January 2013 UPM, Madrid

Working on different collaboration R&D innovation projects between the Polytechnic University of Madrid and several Spanish forestry companies.

Responsible for conducting experiments within the research project aimed to improved growth and biomass production in poplar, and for the supervision of technicians, master and undergraduate students to carry out other research projects of the group.

PhD fellow September 2006 – September 2010 UPM, Madrid

Working on my Thesis project. Using molecular, biochemical and bioinformatics tools to identify and functionally characterize major stress proteins in poplar and economically important species.

Others responsibilities include day-to-day management of the laboratory, ordering new equipment and consumables, contributing to the teaching of new methods and protocols to others PhD and undergraduate students.

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Research internship March 2005 – September 2006 UPM, Madrid

Working on a collaboration project between the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the forestry company Bosques Naturales, S.A.

Responsible for conducting the experiments to analyse the accumulation of stress proteins to be used as markers for the company tree breeding selection program.

ISO 9001 quality manager February 2004 – February 2005 Córdoba, Spain

Working on the implementation of a Quality Management System (QMS) according to the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 in three different small organizations.


XI Competition of Business Ideas ACTUA-UPM. “Increasing sustainability and efficiency of bioenergy production with forest plantations” (2014). Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain.

Plant transformations

Biolistic transformation of arabidopsis plants

Biolistic transformation of arabidopsis plants

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of poplar

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of poplar

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of arabidopsis

Arabidopsis plants


SDS-PAGE (unidemensional)

Eletroforese unidimensional SDS-PAGE

SDS-PAGE (bidimensional)

Eletroforese bidimensional SDS-PAGE






Heterologous expression in E.coli and co-expression

Eletroforese unidimensional SDS-PAGE Western

In vitro culture

Poplar in vitro propagation

poplar in vitro propagation

Shoot and callus induction of poplar

shoot of poplar callus of poplar

Technics summary

In vitro culture Plant cell culture, plant tissue culture, callus culture, shoot induction, somatic embryogenesis.
Proteins Protein extraction and quantification, SDS-PAGE (1-D, 2-D), Western blotting, ELISA, enzyme assays, Bradford assay, recombinant protein expression.
Molecular biology Analysis of nucleic acids (extraction, purification, quantification and gel electrophoresis). cDNA synthesis and amplification. cDNA libraries construction and screening. Southern and Northern blotting. Gene cloning. PCR. Restriction enzyme digestion.
Transcriptomic RNA extraction and quantification. qRT-PCR. RNA-seq data analyses.
Microbiology Aseptic and sterile techniques, media preparation, bacterial cell culture, competent cells preparation, bacterial transformation (Escolar and A.tumefaciens), cell stress assays.
Transgenic Biolistic transformation, Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation (Arabidopsis thaliana, hybrid poplar and Norway spruce).
Microscopy Light microscopy, stereomicroscope.

Peer-reviewed articles

Book chapters

Manuscripts in preparation

Reviewing activity

Public funding

ProCoGen Project. “Promoting a functional and comparative understanding of the conifer genome- implementing applied aspects for more productive and adapted forests”.
EU 7th Framework Program Program.
"New approach to soil remediation by combining biological and chemical oxidation processes". Project BIOXISOIL (
EU Environment LIFE Program
“Phytotechnologies for remediation of contaminated sites”.
Regional R&D Program, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain (2010-2013).
“Phytoremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls and related xenobiotics”
Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, Spain (2003-2006)

Corporate funding

“Analysis of the biotechnological potential for remediation of polluted soils of a peroxidase enzyme”.
“Applied biotechnology to increase tree biomass production”
Desarrollos agronómicos industriales
“Molecular mechanisms for heat tolerance in temperate woody plants”
Eurobosques SA
“Biotechnological approaches to improve abiotic stress tolerance in forest plantations”
Bosques Naturales SA
“Molecular tools to improve high-value wood production in forest plantations”.
Bosques Naturales SA (2005-2008)