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Elena Martin-Avila

Elena’s current work in Whitney’s Lab explores novel approaches to improve the catalytic efficiency of the CO2-fixing enzyme, Rubisco. The catalytic inadequacies of this enzyme frequently limit the growth capacity of many plants, including most crops. As such, it is a prime target for genetic engineering as a means to supercharge photosynthesis and improve growth efficiency in crops.

Elena’s main interest lies in validating the catalytic role of the Rubisco small subunit using alternative strategies for optimizing small subunit expression in plastids

Elena studied a B.Sc. in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and from there she moved to the UK to undertake a Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology at The University of Manchester.  Her Ph.D. work involved developing innovative applications to manipulate the plastid genome. Plastid encoded functions are important for the growth of crops but they are relatively inaccessible to improvement by classical plant breeding methods. During this time she became more interested in issues related to sustainable agricultural development and food security.