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Agricultural Microbiology

We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers from IBUN and the Science Faculty’s Biology and Chemistry departments. Founded in January 2005, we have committed ourselves to producing knowledge/know-how in the area of agricultural and environmental microbiology, aimed at deepening understanding of biological processes associated with biofertilisation, biological control and microbial ecology, aimed at providing an alternative solution to the agricultural sector’s needs within the framework of socially and environmentally sustainable strategies.
Our main objective is to develop scientific research and technological innovation providing knowledge for developing Colombia’s agricultural sector. We have been involved in basic and applied research projects aimed at rice, potato and fruit production chains (i.e. blackberries) for producing alternative integrated management emphasising developing biological fertilisation and plague management strategies.

We have different research fronts directed towards developing bioconsumables, mainly related to biofertilisation and biological control of plagues. Our interest originally centred on bioprospecting for promising microorganisms whose use would lead to improving agricultural sector production systems, mainly concerning potato and rice crops. Our process began by selecting microorganisms having biofertiliser potential due to their role within cycling systems and the bioavailability of relevant nutrients for agriculture. Our main emphasis lies on using microorganisms involved in solubilising and translocating phosphate, nitrogen fixation, amonification and nitrification and transforming carbon sources-rich organic material such as celluloses, hemicelluloses and lignin. We are currently leading a research line directed towards understanding the microbial processes related to edaphic metabolism within the framework of cycling nutrients of interest in agriculture, not just as a source of cycling nutrients but also of biotransforming plaguicide-type xenobiotic compounds which are widely used in agriculture. We are using conventional microbiology techniques as well as advanced molecular biology techniques and enzymology applied to soils, letting us carry out a functional metagenomic analysis of cultivable and non-cultivable microorganism populations involved in metabolism of soil. Regarding the biological control of plagues, we are fundamentally interested in identifying microorganisms leading to controlling phytopathogenous agents and plague insects of interest having a detrimental effect on a particular crop and/or at postharvest level.
Our bioprospecting continues in the form of our detailed study of secondary metabolites involved in selected microorganisms’ action mechanisms, such as vegetal growth-promoting agents. Biofertilisation-related metabolites have been identified such as phosphatase expression and organic acids related to phosphate solubilisation. We have also been studying the expression of metabolites related to the expression of substances involved in regulating vegetal growth such as acetic indol acid-type auxins, or substances playing a relevant role in antagonism towards phytopathogenous agents such as producing antibiotics, cianhydric acid or siderophoros.

  • Standardising and implementing bioconsumable analysis and production techniques, academic formation of undergraduate and postgraduate students, consultations, broadcasting knowledge/know-how by making presentations at academic events and through publications and organising theoretical-practical courses on stated topics having an impact on the academic, industrial, agricultural sectors.
  • Our group’s activities are directed towards Colombia’s agricultural sector’s academic and production sectors, especially in crops having national interest such as rice, potato and fruit, such as blackberries. Our work is also directed towards the general public who might be interested in our group’s research lines.
  • Currently, theses, publications and participation at academic events have led to socializing the main research results obtained. Research into and producing bioconsumables are of great relevance in integrated crops and organic agriculture management programmes. Given the growing demand for these products, it is important to understand the mechanisms involved in the different microorganism functional groups’ activity.
  • We plan to continue research and development activities in bioprospecting for promising native microorganisms or those from the group’s strain-bank for being used in producing microbial inoculants, after evaluating their activity and understanding the action mechanisms involved in (as well as optimising them) processes leading to guaranteeing the quality of the bioconsumer products so obtained.

URIBE, D., and G. G. KHACHATOURIANS. 2008. Identification and characterization of the alternative oxidase in the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. Canadian Journal of Microbiology. 54: 119-127.
URIBE, D., y G. G. KHACHATOURIANS. 2007. Análisis y aplicaciones de la tipificación molecular del genoma mitocondrial de Beauveria bassiana. Revista Colombiana de Entomología. 33 (2): 89-97.
ORTÍZ M. L. y URIBE, D. 2007. Aislamiento de hongos degradadores de lignina a partir de suelos con dos usos agrícolas (sabana de pastoreo y bosque secundario) de sabana inundable, Puerto López (Meta). Suelos Ecuatoriales. 37: 70-74.
BAUTISTA, G., MENDOZA, H. Y URIBE, D. 2007. Biocontrol of Rhizoctonia solani in Solanum phureja plants using native Pseudomonas fluorescens. Acta Biológica Colombiana. 12: 19-32.
SÁNCHEZ, J. , GARCÍA, D. ROJAS, M. 2006. Contenido microbiológico cultivable del tracto intestinal y polen almacenado de Apis mellifera (hymenoptera: apidae). Acta Biológica Colombiana, Bogotá: Vol. 11 (1): 123-129.
BERNAL E.; CELIS S. ; GALINDEZ, J., MORATTO C.; SÁNCHEZ, J; GARCÍA D. 2006. Microflora cultivable y endomicorrizas obtenidas en hojarasca de bosque (Páramo Guerrero - Finca Puente de Tierra) Zipaquirá, Colombia. Acta Biológica Colombiana, Bogotá: Vol. 11 (1): 144-147.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Carrera 45 No 26-85 - Edificio Uriel Gutiérrez
Bogotá D.C. - Colombia