Esteban Martínez

I obtained my PhD at Universidad Complutense in Madrid (UCM) in 2001, where I worked on stationary phase in bacteria under the supervision of Antonio Tormo and Juana María Navarro. Then, I stayed until the end of 2002 as a postdoc in the laboratory of Julián Perera (UCM) working on biodegradation. After that, I moved to the U.S.A for a postdoctoral position. First, I worked on comparative genomics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa for three years in Roberto Kolter’s laboratory at the Harvard Medical School. Then, I moved to Kevin Foster’s lab at Harvard University where I worked on social interactions of P. aeruginosa. In 2008 I returned to Spain and started working in Víctor de Lorenzo’s laboratory at Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid where I focused on different aspects of synthetic biology.

I am especially motivated by the construction of different cellular chassis for multiple biotechnological applications, and to develop a broad collection of standard genetic tools. Particularly, we selected Pseudomonas putida as our choiced organism since it is a non-pathogenic bacterium that can be found frequently in the environment and offers a huge metabolic versatility. Mainly, I am involved in developing two types of cellular chassis. The first one involves the modification of the natural adhesive properties of P. putida by using different surface display systems to re-direct its attachment in a controlled fashion, being able, in this way, to engineer artificial communities or to build structured biofilms. The second type of chassis comprises developing cell factories; that are particular strains that have been manipulated to centralize its energy and reducing power into the production of interesting added-value metabolites and to be laboratory-friendly, meaning that are easy to perform common genetic manipulations. Along the way, we realized the lack of genetic tools available in the “market” of environmental bacteria, so part of my effort was, also, focalized in developing a number of plasmids and protocols to perform different manipulations of Gram-negative bacteria and to facilitate the laboratory work. All these efforts are projected not only to broad the genetic toolbox for environmental bacteria but to contribute adopting standard tools and methods in molecular biology that will help in the design of new biological systems.


Figure 1. Schematic representation of the utilities of the surface display chassis.


Figure 2. pBAM1 is a synthetic and modular version of the classical pUT-mini-Tn5. Martínez-García E. et al. BMC Micro. 2011. 11: 38.

pEMG is a plasmid that allows to engineer bacterial genomes of Gram-negative bacteria. Martínez-García E. et al. Environ. Microbiol. 2011. 13 (10). For a detailed protocol on these procedures see also: Martínez-García E. & de Lorenzo V. Methods Mol. Biol. 2012. 813: 267-83.