María Leire Molinero Ruiz


The research is focused on soilborne pathogens causing diseases of field crops, particularly sunflower and maize.

The study of sunflower diseases is a very well-established line. Major diseases of sunflower in Spain are considered: broomrape (Orobanche cumana) and downy mildew (Plasmopara halstedii). Important research efforts are also made on diseases with economic impact on the crop worldwide, such as leaf mottle and wilt (Verticillium dahliae) and stem rot (Sclerotinia spp.).
In the case of maize, research is focused on late wilt caused by the soilborne fungus Harpophora maydis (sin. Cephalosporium maydis).

Continued external collaborations consider different aspects of sunflower protection (insect pests) and Fusarium spp. affecting asparagus.

Approaches of the research at the laboratory are:

  • Pathogenic and molecular characterization of populations of soilborne pathogens.
  • Strategies for the control of crop diseases: genetic resistance, control by means of bioactive compounds, cultural practices, chemical treatments.
  • Early detection of the infection of plants by pathogens causing vascular wilts.
  • Performance of resistant lines under natural infection and different field conditions. Benefit of the use of genetic resistance in commercial hybrids and in experimental research accessions.

Molinero-Ruiz, M.L., García-Ruiz, R., Melero-Vara, J.M. and J. Dominguez. 2009. Orobanche cumana race F: performance of resistant sunflower hybrids and aggressiveness of populations of the parasitic weed. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3180.2009.00708.x. Weed Research 49: 469-478.

Molinero-Ruiz, M.L., Melero-Vara, J.M. and A. Mateos. 2010. Cephalosporium maydis, the cause of late wilt in maize, a pathogen new to Portugal and Spain. DOI: 10.1094/PDIS-94-3-0379A. Plant Disease 94 (3): 379.

Molinero-Ruiz, L., E. Rubio-Pérez, E. Gonzalez-Domínguez and M.J. Basallote-Ureba. 2011. Alternative hosts for Fusarium spp. causing crown and root rot of asparagus in Spain. DOI:10.1111/j.1439-0434.2010.1723.x. Journal of Phytopathology 159 (2): 114-116.

Molinero-Ruiz, L., García-Carneros, A.B., Collado-Romero, M., Raranciuc, S., Domínguez, J. and J.M. Melero-Vara. 2014. Pathogenic and molecular diversity in highly virulent populations of the parasitic weed Orobanche cumana (sunflower broomrape) from Europe. DOI: 10.1111/wre.12056. Weed Research 54 (1): 87-96.

C. Rosado-Alvarez, C., L. Molinero-Ruiz, L., R. Rodríguez-Arcos, R. and M.J. Basallote-Ureba. 2014. Antifungal activity of asparagus extracts against phytopathogenic Fusarium oxysporum. DOI: 10.1016/j.scienta.2014.03.037. Scientia Horticulturae 171: 51-57.

Scientific support to companies: phytopathology.

  • Identification of soilborne pathogens.
  • Assessment of the reaction of plant genotypes to soilborne pathogens.
  • Assessment of the reaction of soilborne pathogens to chemicals (seed dressing).
  • Assessment of the efficacy of novel treatments on the control of crop diseases.
  • Determination of incidences and geographical location of crop diseases. Assessment of yield losses.
  • Counselling on the implementation of techniques for evaluation of the reactions of: a) plants to pathogens, b) pathogens to compounds.

Collaborator in the course “Integrated control of Crop Diseases”, Master on “Crop Production, Crop Protection and Plant Breeding”. Academic Director: Prof. A. Trapero-Casas. 2010 – present.