Profile – Manuel Becana

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Manuel Becana

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I got my M.Sc. Biology (1981) and Ph.D. Biology (1985) at the University of Navarra (Spain) with National Prize for the best academic record and  Special Award, respectively. In 1986 I earned a permanent position as Assistant Professor at CSIC-Salamanca and then I did postdoctoral work at the University of Dundee (UK) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA) under the supervision of Prof. Janet Sprent and Prof. Robert Klucas, respectively. In 1992 I was promoted to Associate Professor and in 2001 to Full Professor. Since 1992 I am a group leader at Zaragoza-CSIC. During my whole scientific career, including my PhD, I have been working in various aspects related to nitrogen fixation by the rhizobia-legume symbiosis, initially with crop legumes (alfalfa, pea, common bean, soybean) and afterwards with both model legumes (mainly Lotus japonicus) and crops. My main interests are in the areas of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (especially hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide), antioxidants, oxidative/nitrosative stress in nodules, redox regulation, leghemoglobins, and nonsymbiotic hemoglobins.

Research Areas:

  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidative and nitrosative signaling and stress
  • Plant symbiotic and nonsymbiotic hemoglobins
  • Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species
  • Redox regulation in nodules
  • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation

Current N-related Projects:

  • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation: antioxidants, abiotic stress and senescence in nodules of model and crop legumes

    Spanish Programme of Agriculture grant no. AGL2008-01298


  • Signaling by reactive oxygen/nitrogen species and antioxidants in the nitrogen-fixing rhizobia-legume symbiosis

    Spanish Programme of Agriculture grant no. AGL2011-24524


  • Structure and function of legume hemoglobins

    Special CSIC grant no. 201240E150


  • Nitrogen fixation by the rhizobium-legume symbiosis: hemoglobins and protein oxidative modifications during nodule development and senescence

    Spanish Programme of Agriculture grant no. AGL2014-53717-R


  • Function of hemoglobins and nitric oxide in the rhizobium-legume symbiosis

    Spanish Programme of Agriculture grant no. AGL2017-85775-R



Calvo-Begueria L, Cuypers B, Van Doorslaer S, Abbruzzetti S, Bruno S, Berghmans H, Dewilde S, Ramos J, Viappiani C, Becana M (2017) Characterization of the heme pocket structure and ligand binding kinetics of non-symbiotic hemoglobins from the model legume Lotus japonicus. Front Plant Sci 8: 407 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00407.

Fukudome M, Calvo-Beguería L, Kado T, Osuki K, Rubio MC, Murakami E, Nagata M, Kucho K, Sandal N, Stougaard J, Becana M, Uchiumi T (2016) Hemoglobin LjGlb1-1 is involved in nodulation and regulates the level of nitric oxide in the Lotus japonicus-Mesorhizobium loti symbiosis. J Exp Bot 67: 5275-5283. 

Matamoros MA, Saiz A, Peñuelas M, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Mulet JM, Barja MV, Rouhier N, Moore M, James EK, Dietz KJ, Becana M (2015) Function of glutathione peroxidases in legume root nodules. J Exp Bot 66: 2979-2990.

Sainz M, Calvo-Begueria L, Pérez-Rontomé C, Wienkoop S,  Abián J,  Staudinger C, Bartesaghi S, Radi R, Becana M (2015) Leghemoglobin is nitrated in functional legume nodules in a tyrosine residue within the heme cavity by a nitrite/peroxide-dependent mechanism. Plant J 81: 723-735.

Sainz M, Pérez-Rontomé C, Ramos J, Mulet JM, James EK, Bhattacharjee U, Petrich JW, Becana M (2013) Plant hemoglobins may be maintained in functional form by reduced flavins in the nuclei and confer differential tolerance to nitro-oxidative stress. Plant J 76: 875-887.

Frendo P, Matamoros MA, Alloing G, Becana M (2013) Thiol-based redox signaling in the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. Front Plant Sci 4 (376) 1-10.

Matamoros MA, Fernández-García N, Wienkoop S, Loscos J, Saiz A, Becana M (2013) Mitochondria are an early target of oxidative modifications in senescing legume nodules. New Phytol 197: 873-885.

Clemente MR, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Loscos J, James EK, Pérez-Rontomé C, Navascués J, Gay M, Becana M (2012) Thiol synthetases of legumes: immunogold localization and differential gene regulation by phytohormones. J Exp Bot 63: 3923-3934.

Navascués J, Pérez-Rontomé C, Gay M, Marcos M, Yang F, Walker FA, Desbois A, Abián J, Becana M (2012) Leghemoglobin green derivatives with nitrated hemes evidence production of highly reactive nitrogen species during aging of legume nodules. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: 2660-2665.

Navascués J, Pérez-Rontomé C, Sánchez DH, Staudinger C, Wienkoop S, Rellán-Álvarez R, Becana M (2012) Oxidative stress is a consequence, not a cause, of aluminum toxicity in the forage legume Lotus corniculatus. New Phytol 193: 625-636.

Tovar-Méndez A, Matamoros MA, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Dietz KJ, Cejudo FJ, Rouhier N, Sato S, Tabata S, Becana M (2011) Peroxiredoxins and NADPH-dependent thioredoxin systems in the model legume Lotus japonicus. Plant Physiol 156: 1535-1547.

Bustos-Sanmamed P, Tovar-Méndez A, Crespi M, Sato S, Tabata S, Becana M (2011) Regulation of nonsymbiotic and truncated hemoglobin genes of Lotus japonicus in plant organs and in response to nitric oxide and hormones. New Phytol 189: 765-776.

Becana M, Matamoros MA, Udvardi M, Dalton DA (2010) Recent insights into antioxidant defenses of legume root nodules – invited Tansley review. New Phytol 188: 960-976.

Matamoros MA, Loscos J, Dietz KJ, Aparicio-Tejo PM, Becana M (2010) Function of antioxidant enzymes and metabolites during maturation of pea fruits. J Exp Bot 61: 87-97.

Rubio MC, Becana M, Kanematsu S, Ushimaru T, James EK (2009) Immunolocalization of antioxidant enzymes in high-pressure frozen root and stem nodules of Sesbania rostrata. New Phytol 183: 395-407.

Rubio MC, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Clemente MR, Becana M (2009) Effects of salt stress on the expression of antioxidant genes and proteins in the model legume Lotus japonicus. New Phytol 181: 851-859.

Ramos J, Matamoros M, Naya L, James EK, Rouhier N, Sato S, Tabata S, Becana M (2009) The glutathione peroxidase gene family of Lotus japonicus: characterization of genomic clones, expression analyses and immunolocalization in legumes. New Phytol 181: 103-114.

Ramos J, Naya L, Gay M, Abián J, Becana M (2008) Functional characterization of an unusual phytochelatin synthase, LjPCS3, of Lotus japonicus. Plant Physiol 148: 536-545.

Loscos J, Matamoros MA, Becana M (2008) Ascorbate and homoglutathione metabolism in common bean nodules under stress conditions and during natural senescence. Plant Physiol 146: 1282-1292.

López-Martín MC, Becana M, Romero LC, Gotor C (2008) Knocking out cytosolic cysteine synthesis compromises the antioxidant capacity of the cytosol to maintain discrete concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 147: 562-572.

Naya L, Ladrera R, Ramos J, González EM, Arrese-Igor C, Minchin FR, Becana M (2007) The response of carbon metabolism and antioxidant defenses of alfalfa nodules to drought stress and to the subsequent recovery of plants. Plant Physiol 144: 1104-1114.

Rubio MC, Becana M, Sato S, James EK, Tabata S, Spaink HP (2007) Characterization of genomic clones and expression analysis of the three types of superoxide dismutases during nodule development in Lotus japonicus. Mol Plant-Microbe Interact 20: 262-275.

Ramos J, Clemente MR, Naya L, Loscos J, Pérez-Rontomé C, Sato S, Tabata S, Becana M (2007) Phytochelatin synthases of the model legume Lotus japonicus. A small multigene family with differential response to cadmium and alternatively spliced variants. Plant Physiol 143: 1110-1118.