Phytopathology of Sustainable Agricultural Systems


Our aim is to increase the efficiency of agricultural systems in Mediterranean environments by using integrated management strategies of plant diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens to avoid the environmental damage and economic losses that they cause. We address these goals by developing innovative and environmentally-friendly management strategies to ensure both agricultural system efficiency and the yield, maintaining at the same time the quality and health of their products.

Research activities in our group are undertaken with a multidisciplinary approach that includes etiology, plant-organism-interactions, taxonomy, genetic diversity and population structure, biogeography of pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms, and response of host genotypes to them. We use classical and molecular tools, morphogenesis and structure of plants, qualitative and quantitative histology, quantitative epidemiology, modeling impacts of climate change on pathogens and beneficial microorganisms, microbial ecology, metagenomics, and biological control.


Juan Antonio Navas Cortés

Research scientist
Head of the group

Rafael Manuel Jiménez Díaz

Full University Professor (UCO)

Pablo Castillo Castillo

Research scientist

Blanca Landa del Castillo

Research scientist

Hava Rapoport Goldberg

Research scientist

Miguel Montes Borrego

Postdoctoral reseracher

Inmaculada Moreno Alias

Postdoctoral reseracher

Juan Emilio Palomares Rius

Postdoctoral reseracher

Antonio Archidona Yuste

FPI contract
  • Jiménez–Díaz, R. M., Cirulli, M., Bubici, G., Jiménez-Gasco, M. M., Antoniou, P. P., and Tjamos, E. C. 2012. Verticillium wilt: A major threat to olive production. Current status and future prospects for its management. Plant Disease Feature Article 96: 304-329.
  • Remesal, E., Landa, B.B., Jiménez-Gasco, M.M., and Navas-Cortés, J.A. 2013. Sequence variation in two protein-coding genes correlates with Mycelial Compatibility Groupings in Sclerotium rolfsii. Phytopathology 103: 479-487.
  • Gutierrez-Gutierrez, C., Cantalapiedra-Navarrete, C., Remesal-Gonzalez, E., Palomares-Rius, J.E., Navas-Cortes, J.A. & Castillo, P. 2013. New insight into the identification and molecular phylogeny of dagger nematodes of the genus Xiphinema (Nematoda: Longidoridae) with description of two new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 169, 548-579.
  • Landa, B.B., Montes-Borrego, M. Aranda, S., Soriano, M.A., Gómez, J.A., and Navas-Cortés, J.A. 2014. Soil type and management system determine the structure and diversity of soil bacterial communities in commercial organic olive orchards at Southern Spain. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 6: 196-207.
  • Hammami, S.B.M., Costagli, G., and H. F. Rapoport. 2013. Cell and tissue dynamics of olive endocarp sclerification vary according to water availability. Physiologia Plantarum 149: 571-582.
  • Specific diagnosis of plant pathogenic fungi, oomycetes, bacteria and nematodes, and their races, pathotypes or biotypes by conventional and DNA-based procedures.
  • Characterization of the genetic and pathogenic structure of plant pathogens and beneficial microorganisms in plant material, soil or agricultural substrates by conventional and DNA-based procedures.
  • Isolation, identification, characterization and selection of biocontrol agents of plant pathogens.
  • Application of pyrosequencing to study populations of microorganisms (fungi, archaea, bacteria, mycorrhiza, etc.) and nematodes in soil and rhizosphere, and the changes in their populations due to crop management practices, application of phytosanitary products, soil amendments, etc.
  • Development of protocols for the detection and quantification of microorganisms in different substrates (soil, plants, water, etc.).
  • Characterization of microbial population diversity at different scales by using DNA genotyping and sequencing (AFLP, RFLP, SSR, MLST, phylogeny, etc.).
  • Evaluation and characterization of disease resistance to plant pathogens and the efficacy of biological or chemical products to promote growth of agricultural crops and/or the control of diseases caused by pathogens including fungi, oomycetes, bacteria or nematodes.
  • Measurement and analysis of flowering, fruit set and fruit development in olive, including reproductive phenology, incidence of pistil abortion, floral quality, pollen quality, pit hardening and olive fruit growth and differentiation.

Juan Antonio Navas Cortés – Investigador científico – Responsable del grupo
Rafael Jiménez Díaz – Catedrático UCO
Pablo Castillo Castillo – Investigador científico
Blanca Landa del Castillo – Investigador científico
 Hava Rapoport Goldberg – Investigador científico
Miguel Montes Borrego – Investigador postdoctoral
 Inmaculada Moreno Alias – Investigador postdoctoral
 Juan Emilio Palomares Rius – Investigador postdoctoral
 Juan Emilio Palomares Rius – Investigador postdoctoral
 José L. Trapero Casas – Titulado grado medio especializado
 Jorge Martín Barbarroja – Técnico de Investigación
 Ester García Cuevas – Técnico de Investigación
 Antonio J. Archidona Yuste – Contratado Formación Doctores, MINECO
 Carolina Cantalapiedra Navarrete – Técnico Actividades Técnicas y Profesionales
 Guillermo León Ropero – Técnico Actividades Técnicas y Profesionales
 Concepción Olivares García – Técnico Actividades Técnicas y Profesionales

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