Grupos de Investigación
Sede San Martín

Laboratorio de Biología de Plantas

The primary focus of the research in my lab is on plant responses to the environment. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms as well as in the implications for agriculture and global change research. ( )



Dr. Carlos L. Ballaré

Professor (UBA-UNSAM)
Senior Research Scientist (CONICET)
Doctor of Philosophy, 1992. Oregon State University, U.S.A.
Magister Scientiae, Crop Production, 1989. Facultad de Agronomía - Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Ingeniero Agrónomo, 1984. Facultad de Agronomía - Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Miembros actuales:

Dr. Carlos Mazza

Adjunct Research Scientist (CONICET-IFEVA).
Adjunct Professor (School of Agronomy, UBA).
Doctor 2001. Facultad de Agronomía - Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Lic. en Ciencias Biológicas, 1996. Facultad de Cs. Exactas y Naturales - Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Dra. Miriam Izaguirre

Assistant Professor (School of Agronomy, UBA).
Doctor 2005. Facultad de Cs. Exactas y Naturales - Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Lic. en Ciencias Biológicas, 1997. Facultad de Cs. Exactas y Naturales - Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Lic. Ignacio Cerrudo

Dr. en Ciencias Agropecuarias (UBA)
Estudiante de Doctorado en Ciencias Agropecuarias - Escuela para graduados Alberto Soriano - Facultad de Agronomía - Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Licenciado en Ciencias Biológicas, 2010. Facultad de Cs. Exactas y Naturales - Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata.
Técnico Químico, 2001. EET Nº3. Mar del Plata

Dra. Miriam Cargnel

Teaching Assistant (School of Agronomy, UBA)
Doctor 2004. Dto. de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia - Universidad Nacional del Sur. Lic. en Ciencias Biológicas 1989. Dto. de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia - Universidad Nacional del Sur.

Dr. Carlos Crocco

Assistant Research Scientist (CONICET)

María Emilia Caliri Ortiz

Estudiante de Doctorado en Biología Molecular y Biotecnología - Instituto de Biotecnología (IIB- INTECH) - Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM).

Dra. Amy Austin

Principal Research Scientist (CONICET-IFEVA).
Associate Professor (School of Agronomy-UBA).
Doctor of Philosophy,  Stanford University

Líneas de investigación

The roles of phytochromes as regulators of adaptive plasticiy in plant canopies.

We are interested in understanding how plants use the phytochromes to obtain information about the proximity of other plants.

In many ecological scenarios, the success of the individual plant is defined by the behavioral decisions that it makes when confronted with the risks of competition with other plants and biomass losses to consumer organisms (such as pathogens and herbivorous insects). These decisions involve expression of shade avoidance responses and induced chemical defenses. Because these responses are costly, they frequently engender resource allocation dilemmas. We investigate how plants use the phytochromes and other specific photoreceptors to obtain information about the proximity of other plants and the signaling networks that translate this information into adaptive behavioral decisions

Plant-herbivore interactions and defense responses mediated by the jasmonates.

Plants have very effective mechanisms to defend themselves from phytophagous insects and pathogenic microorganisms. We are interested in understanding the ecological signals that modulate the expression of these defenses.

Plant defenses are frequently based on the accumulation toxic secondary compounds, and their expression is orchestrated by a number of defense-related hormones. The jasmonates (JA) are a group of lipid regulators that play a key role in activating plant defenses against chewing insects and certain types of plant pathogens. JA-inducible defenses impose an energy cost on the plant; therefore, the expression of these defenses may compromise the ability of the plant to grow and compete with other plants. This tradeoff is known as "the dilemma of plants" (i.e., to grow or defend). We investigate the mechanisms that control the expression of JA-inducible plant defenses in response to light signals that plants use to "measure" the risk of competition.

The effects of solar UV radiation on plant and ecosystem function.

UV radiation is a relatively minor component of the solar spectrum reaching the ground surface. Yet it has many important effects on organisms and biogeochemical cycles in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

We study the effects of solar UV radiation on plant growth and secondary chemistry, and investigate the roles of UV radiation as an environmental signal affecting the development and behavior of plants and other organisms, such as canopy arthropods and phyllosphere microorganisms.

In cooperation with the Austin lab we are working on understanding the mechanisms that mediate the effects of UV and VIS light on the photochemical degradation of plant litter. Photodegradation is an important processes affecting the carbon and nutrient cycles in terrestrial ecosystems, and it may be affected by changes in environmental conditions predicted in future scenarios of global climate change.

Carlos Ballaré is also a member of the Environmental Effect Assessment Panel of the United Nations Environmental Programme (EEAP-UNEP). This panel informs the parties to the Montreal Protocol on recent advances in the understanding of the effects of solar UV radiation and their interactions with global climate change. The EEAP produces detailed reports every four years and short yearly updates, which are published by UNEP and reprinted in the open literature.



  1. Austin A.T., Méndez M. S., Ballaré C.L. (2016) Photodegradation alleviates the lignin bottleneck for carbon turnover in terrestrial ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113: 4392-4397.


  1. J. A. Zavala, C. A. Mazza, F. M. Dillon, H. D. Chludil And C. L. Ballaré. Soybean resistance to stink bugs (Nezara viridula and Piezodorus guildinii) increases with exposure to solar UV-B radiation and correlates with isoflavonoid content in pods under field conditions. Plant, Cell and Environment PubMed
  2. C. A. Mazza, C. L. Ballaré Photoreceptors UVR8 and phytochrome B cooperate to optimize plant growth and defense in patchy canopies New Phytologist New Phytologist, 207: 4-9
  3. J. F. Bornman, P. W. Barnes, S. A. Robinson, C. L. Ballaré, S. D. Flint, M. M. Caldwell Solar ultraviolet radiation and ozone depletion-driven climate change: effects on terrestrial ecosystems Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 14: 88-107 (UNEP Quadrennial Report, OA)
  4. C.V. González, M. L. Fanzone, L. E. Cortés, R. Bottini, D. C. Lijavetzky, C. L. Ballaré, H. E. Boccalandro Fruit-localized photoreceptors increase phenolic compounds in berry skins of field-grown Vitis vinifera L. cv. Malbec Phytochemistry in press Abstract


  1. A. T. Austin, C. L. Ballaré. Plant interactions with other organisms: molecules, ecology and evolution. New Phytologist 204: 257-260 Abstract
  2. M. D. Cargnel, P. V. Demkura, C. L. Ballaré. Linking phytochrome to plant immunity: low red:far-red ratios increase Arabidopsis susceptibility to Botrytis cinerea by reducing the biosynthesis of indolic glucosinolates and camalexin. New Phytologist, 204: 342-345 Abstract
  3. M. Leone, M. M. Keller, I. Cerrudo, C. L. Ballaré. To grow or defend? Low red:far-red ratios reduce jasmonate sensitivity in Arabidopsis seedlings by promoting DELLA degradation and increasing JAZ10 stability. New Phytologist, in press. PubMed
  4. J. E. Moreno, C. L. Ballaré. Phytochorme regulation of plant immunity in vegetation canopies Journal of Chemical Ecology, 40: 848-857. PubMed
  5. Ballaré C. L. Light Regulation of Plant Defense. Annual Review of Plant Biology 65, 335-363. PubMed
  6. R. Pierik, C. L. Ballaré and M. Dicke. Ecology of plant volatiles: taking a plant community perspective. Plant, Cell and Environment. PubMed
  7. Williamson C., Zepp R., Lucas R., Madronich S., Austin A.T., Ballaré C.L., Norval M., Sulzberger B., Bais A., McKenzie R., Robinson R., Häder D-P., Paul N.D., Bornman J.F. Solar Ultraviolet Radiation in a Changing Climate. Nature Climate Change, 4: 434-441
  8. P. E. Gundel, R. Pierik, L. Mommer, C. L. Ballaré. Competing neighbors: light perception and root function. Oecologia. June 2014 in press


  1. M. M. Izaguirre, C.A. Mazza, M. S. Astigueta, A. M. Ciarla and Ballaré C. L. No time for candy: passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) plants down-regulate damage-induced extra floral nectar production in response to light signals of competition Oecologia 173, 213-221
  2. C. A. Mazza, P. I. Giménez, A. G. Kantolic and C. L. Ballaré Beneficial effects of solar UV-B radiation on soybean yield mediated by reduced insect herbivory under field conditions Physiologia Plantarum 147, 307-315.


  1. C. L. Ballaré, C. A. Mazza, A. T. Austin and R. Pierik Canopy light and plant health Plant Physiology 160, 145-155 (commissioned Update)
  2. P. V. Demkura and C. L. Ballaré UVR8 mediates UV-B-induced Arabidopsis defense responses against Botrytis cinerea by controlling sinapate accumulation Molecular Plant 5, 642-652.
  3. I. Cerrudo, M. M. Keller, M. D. Cargnel, P. V. Demkura, M. de Wit, M. S. Patitucci, R. Pierik, C. M. J. Pieterse and C. L. Ballaré Low Red:Far-Red ratios reduce Arabidopsis resistance to Botrytis cinerea and jasmonate responses via a COI1-JAZ10-dependent, salicylic acid-independent mechanism Plant Physiology 158, 2042-2052.


  1. M. M. Keller, Y. Jaillais, U. V. Pedmale, J. E. Moreno, J. Chory and C. L. Ballaré Cryptochrome 1 and phytochrome B control shade-avoidance responses in Arabidopsis via partially-independent hormonal cascades The Plant Journal 67, 195-207.
  2. C. L. Ballaré, M. M. Caldwell, S. D. Flint, S. A. Robinson and J. F. Bornman Effects of solar ultraviolet radiation on terrestrial ecosystems. Patterns, mechanisms, and interactions with climate change Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences 10, 226-241.
  3. C. L. Ballaré Jasmonate-induced defenses: a tale of intelligence, collaborators and rascals Trends in Plant Science 16, 249-257.


  1. P. V. Demkura, G. Abdala, I. T. Baldwin and C. L. Ballaré Jasmonate-dependent and -independent pathways mediate specific effects of solar ultraviolet-B radiation on leaf phenolics and antiherbivore defense Plant Physiology 152, 1084-1095.
  2. P. Balint-Kurti, S. J. Simmons, J. E. Blum, C. L. Ballaré and A. E. Stapleton Maize leaf epiphytic bacteria diversity patterns are genetically correlated with resistance to fungal pathogen infection Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 23, 473-484.
  3. C. A. Mazza, M. M. Izaguirre, J. Curiale and C. L. Ballaré A look into the invisible: ultraviolet-B sensitivity in an insect (Caliothrips phaseoli) revealed through a behavioural action spectrum Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 277, 367-373.
  4. A. T. Austin and C. L. Ballaré Dual role of lignin in plant litter decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107, 4618-4622.



Light and hormonal regulation of the jasmonate signaling pathway. Agencia Nac. Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, PICT-2012-0317 (Principal Investigator)


Light and shade in the interactions between plants and microorganisms. Agencia Nac. Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, PICT cat. V (Principal Investigator)


Influence of environmental signals on plant defences. Molecular mechanisms, interactions and legacies. UBACyT2011-2014, 20020100100449 (Principal Investigator)