Recognizing Plant Cell first authors: Rafael Catalá

Rafael Catalá first author of Arabidopsis SmE1 regulates plant development and response to abiotic stress by determining spliceosome activity specificity

Current Position: Postdoctoral researcher, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas-CSIC, Madrid, Spain.

Education: B. Sc. and M. Sc. Biology, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares (Spain). Ph. D. in Science, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain).

Non-scientific Interests: Reading, cinema, scuba diving, and traveling.

Brief bio: My path to Plant Biology took off very early, when I was an undergraduate student. By the time I started my PhD in Dr. Salinas Lab (INIA, Spain), I already knew that I will dedicate my career to increasing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying plant adaptation to environmental stress. After my PhD, I joined Prof. Chua Lab (The Rockefeller Univ. US) where I not only unveiled that the SUMOylation pathway positively regulates Arabidopsis tolerance to drought, I also developed a sense of compromise between basic knowledge and applied science. With this idea, I came back to Spain and, while continuing to study the role of protein stability in plant adaptation to abiotic stress, I also participated in the development of several patented methods to increase crop tolerance to abiotic stress. Recently, my interest has centered in the analysis of the mechanisms controlling RNA metabolism. I found that Arabidopsis seems to be an ideal model to study the function and regulation of eukaryotic spliceosome, so identifying and characterizing the molecular determinants underlying this regulation is my main objective for the near future.