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The Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Seville (IRNAS) is a research center of the State Agency Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), attached to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.
The purpose of the IRNAS is to conduct research on the use and conservation of soil-plant-water natural resources, focusing mainly on tackle problems derived from their exploitation in arid and semi-arid areas. Besides pursuing high standard scientific production of international relevance, we develop applications and tools useful for stakeholders in the agriculture and forest industries, environment protection Agencies, and Public Administration. Our aim is to improve productivity with the minimum impact on the environment in order to ensure the sustainability of natural resources.
Main research lines developed in the IRNAS, and their main applications are detailed below. Organic matter in soils and sediments: the effects of environmental factors in C and N biogeochemical cycles, implications for the sustainability of ecosystems, C and N sequestration and the global climate change. Applications: i) to acquire environmental information including molecular markers (bio-markers) surrogate to the identification of structure-function relationships in ecosystems i.e. forest fire effects in soils, C and N sequestration and the quality of natural C and N recalcitrant forms; ii) the analysis of complex environmental matrices by means of advanced analytical techniques (pyrolysis, isotope ratio mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance). Group Materia Orgánica en Suelos y Sedimentos (MOSS) Behaviour of agrochemicals and contaminants in the soil-water system and reduction of their environmental contamination effects. Optimization of bioremediation and bioavailability of organic pollutants. Applications: Design of biocompatible adsorbents for their use as amendment or barrier for reducing the contamination of agrochemicals in soil and water. Development of smart and environmental-friendly formulations of agrochemicals to prevent their contamination effects and to increase their efficacy. Development of filters based on new adsorbent materials for their use in water purification processes. Development of innovations that lead to a higher competitiveness of bioremediation technologies. Groups: Agroquímica Ambiental, Contaminantes Orgánicos e Inorgánicos en el Medio Ambiente, Biorremediación y Biodisponibilidad Environmental microbiology: biodiversity, genomics, physiology, and biotechnology of microorganisms from diverse environments. Biodeterioration of materials and biodegradation of pollutants. Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Applications: Analysis of microbial community diversity and its role and use in fertilization and the maintenance of soil health with a focus on arid zones. Use of microorganisms and their enzymes to transform plant residues of biotechnological and environmental interest (i.e., production of biofuels, biodegradation of biological materials and pollutants, etc.). Diversity of microbial communities, their use to Management-conservation-restoration of Cultural Heritage, identification of deterioration agencies, knowledge on microbial biodiversity, uses of secondary metabolites. Groups: Microbial Diversity and Microbiology of Extreme Environments, Environmental Microbiology and Cultural Heritage Integrated studies on the soil – water – plant system, focused on the use of organic and inorganic fertilisers, and amendments, and on the improving of the quality of degraded and polluted soils, ensuring provision of ecosystem services. Applications: Treatment and reuse of organic waste. Organic amendments in agronomic crops, nursery growing media and remediation of soils. Techniques of restoration and phytoremediation of contaminated soils. Tillage management to increase soil quality and agronomic production. Sustainable management of agroforestry systems. Group Uso Sostenible del Sistema Suelo-Planta (SOILPLANT) Development of irrigation strategies and methods to schedule irrigation intended to increase water productivity, to achieve an optimum balance between production and quality and to reduce the environmental impact of irrigation. Applications: deficit irrigation strategies, automatic and continuous monitoring of the plant water stress, automatic irrigation controllers, simulation models for crop water consumption, tools for information management through the internet. Group Riego y Ecofisiología de Cultivos (REC) Studies of genes crucially involved in ion transport, osmotic regulation, longevity of seeds and photosynthetic organs, and in the tolerance to abiotic stress, in particular stress caused by salinity, drought and heat. Applications: Seed and Crop improvement. Stress-tolerant plants that withstand salinity, drought and heat conditions (in separate or in combination). Seeds with longer shelf life and more vigorous germination under stress. Plants with higher seed yield. Use of rootstocks to improve stress tolerance in woody crops. Groups: Salinidad, Biotecnología de Semillas Propagation and selection methods for plant species with agronomical and/or forest interest. Applications: Characterization, selection and propagation, by classic and biotechnological methods, of tolerant plants to abiotic stresses as salinity, drought and soil pollution. Improvement of bioaccessibility of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons of contaminated soils using plant extracts and root exudates. Exploitation of wild species, specially grapevine and olive trees, as phytogenetic resource for improving cultivated ones. Plant nutrition in environmental stress situation. Use of mycorrhizal. Propagation and conservation of endangered forest species. Group Propagación y Nutrición Vegetal Valorization of lignocellulosic crops (wood, herbaceous plants, agricultural residues), for a more complete and rational use of plant biomass as feedstock for the production of renewable products (e.g. paper pulp) and biofuels (e.g. bioethanol), under procedures that allows quality production and a sustainable and environmentally friendly exploitation. Applications: use of plant biomass for the production of cellulose, lignin, biofuels and other renewable products; identification of the problems that limits the industrial use of lignocellulosic materials; development of clean technologies, including biotechnology methods of use in the paper industry and/or the production of biofuels Group Materiales Lignocelulósicos de Interés Industrial Analysis of the dynamics and function of Mediterranean forest systems under different global change scenarios: problems of regeneration and decline in tree species, role of plant-plant and plant-microbe interactions, biogeochemical cycles. Applications: restoration of degraded Mediterranean forests, optimization of reforestation techniques, mitigation of climate change impacts on forest systems, sustainable forest management. Group Sistemas Forestales Mediterráneos (SIFOMed)