The Special Relationship: Plants and their bacteria with Felix Moronta!

Our next curator is Dr Felix Moronta (@morontafelix), who hails from Venezuela, at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in Italy. Here is Felix’s story.


Ever since I can remember, I was amazed at natural phenomena. Like any child, the number of questions, unknowns and natural “mysteries” overwhelmed me. My interests became my professions when I chose a career in biology research.

I had a strong background in basic cyanobacterial research and I wanted to do something more applied after my Ph.D. in Spain. Once again in my country, I began a research project for the isolation of beneficial bacteria and cyanobacteria from rice paddy fields. And this was life-changing. I unveil my passion by the Agricultural Microbiology and I want to contribute more and more to this field.

I’m dedicated to investigating the plant’s bacterial microbiome. Just as our health relies on the microorganisms that colonize our gut, plants also have intimate tiny friends that help them to grow better. I am particularly focused on those bacterial communities that are capable of colonizing the inner tissue of the plants. These microbes could “travel” from the surrounding soil to the root, they compete with other organisms, they penetrate the root surface and go inside the plant. All this with the “permission” of the plant host. If we knew the nature of how it is driving these processes, we could use the beneficial bacteria for improving crop yield.

The result of my work, together with those from other agricultural microbiologists, could boost food production. Microbial biotechnology has the potential of bridging microbiology and food security in a sustainable way. Agriculture is threatening biodiversity and the climate, so finding better sustainable ways for feeding the humanity are mandatory.

Any extra-curriculars? Of course, I am obligated to be the best husband and the best father in the world.

Hobbies? To learn! It is an ecstasy to learn new things about history or science, about geopolitics or social networking. Maybe information consumption has become one of my hobbies.

Ideal Day Off? Going to the mountain with my girls. Definitely, we love to spend all day long in nature. But, if it is raining, I am more than happy with social networking, blogging, Netflix and looking for bad jokes memes.

Please welcome Felix to Real Scientists!

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