Plants and more generally all photosynthetic organisms fascinate me since I am a kid. Understanding how they adapt their environment and identifying major mechanisms involved, with the aim at harnessing this knowledge to develop a more sutainable plant based food produciton has become the main aim of our laboratory.
After graduating in the University of Rennes (France) as a Plant Biochemist / physiologist in 2000, I moved to Japan to continue studying the response of land plants to stresses. Then I moved to
the Technical University of Munich, and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology where I stayed nine years before joining the University of Galway. During my career, my interests have focused at elucidating in photosynthetic organisms the cross talk between metabolism and growth, with special emphasis at how environmental cues modulate them.
To answer this question, our lab has developed state of the art technologies for phenotyping, metabolite profiling and molecular studies. Currently we are working at understanding the role of the rhizosphere in promoting plant health, using coffee as a model plant. As well, till now six years, a large part of our lab is working on seaweeds, as we see them as potential key players in mitigating climate change effects, while helping as well with other sustainable goals such as hunger. As such, we aim at understanding how seaweeds are functioning at physiological and molecular levels, towards supporting seaweed breeding programmes for aquaculture and bioremediation, as well as predicting potential changes in ocean biodiversity due to climate change.
Dr. Masami Inaba
I am fascinated by how photosynthetic organisms cope with a wide variety of environmental conditions, allowing them to be present all over the world. After obtaining in Japan of my doctorate degree on the molecular mechanisms for salt resistance in cyanobacteria, I have been working for now 20 years in academic and private sectors in Germany and Ireland, and gained a wide expertise in cyanobacteria, land plants and more recently seaweeds. My skills range from cultivation to genetic, biochemical and phenotypic analyses. I joined Ronan’s group in 2015 and since then participated in two projects, both of which aiming at bridging basic plant biology and applied agriculture: A DAFM project (VICCI) on developing improved crop varieties for the Irish agricultural sector, and an EU project (SW-Grow) to facilitate economic opportunities of the seaweed industry in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area. Since October 2022, I am participating in an EU funded project, SeaMark, to upscale seaweed production and market applications across Europe. My implication is about creating / selecting non-GM seaweed varieties in order to achieve 50% more productivity in European seaweed farms by the end of the project.
I currently focus on bioinformatics, data engineering and software development in BOLERO, a Horizon 2020 program studying coffee tree root systems and microbial interactions. My career started in molecular biology, with the application of genetic markers to monitoring fish and marine mammal species at the University of Queensland, Australia. A fascination with genetic interactions and plant systems led me to complete a PhD at Sydney University, examining epigenetic responses to transgenes in plants. I won a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2014 and joined the University of Galway to apply my knowledge and experience to crop improvement. I stayed on, joining Dr. Sulpice’s team in BreedCAFS, a Horizon 2020 program developing improved coffee varieties for agroforestry systems. Within this project I spent two years in Germany, training in bioinformatics with Prof. Usadel at RWTH Aachen, and in modeling with Prof. Nikoloski at University of Potsdam and Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology. I have contributed to diverse other projects while with the Plant Systems Biology Lab, including studies of perennial ryegrass metabolism and sea-lettuce (Ulva) genetic improvement.
MSCA Research Fellow
I am interested how the environmental conditions shape seaweeds and how seaweeds influence their environment. I received a PhD from NUIG in 2016, during which I investigated the variability of bioactive compounds in seaweeds in response to environmental stressors. After finishing my PhD, I received an Australian Endeavour Fellowship as well as a German Research Council Grant to work in the group of Prof. Catriona Hurd at the University of Tasmania (Australia). I then worked on a kelp project in the group of Nessa O’Connor at Trinity College Dublin. In 2022, I joined the group of Ronan Sulpice as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow and am currently investigating various tools for strain selection of the red seaweed Palmaria palmata.
Marine Institute funded Postdoctoral Researcher
I am interested in dissecting the genetic control of traits related to a better, more stable and sustainable crop production. I completed my PhD in Agricultural Genetics at the University of Bologna, Italy, where I investigated the control of traits for the improvement of shoot and root architecture in barley. As a postdoctoral researcher in Sulpice’s lab, my aim is the advancement of strain selection in Palmaria palmata through the study of intraspecific physiological and genetic variation.
I have always been very interested in the marine environment and in particular in seaweed and their close relationship with their ecosystem. I completed all my studies in Brest (France) and obtained my master’s degree in Biology and Ecology of Marine Ecosystems at the European Institute of Marine Studies (IUEM, Brest, France) in 2020. My interest in the study of seaweed has developed during my internships, such as the one I completed at Auckland University of Technology (AUT, Auckland, New-Zealand) where I gained experience and knowledge of kelp gametophyte cultures for aquaculture.
After obtaining my Master’s degree, I joined the Sulpice lab as a PhD student in October 2020. The project focuses on the nutrient removal potential of the green seaweed Ulva spp. in brackish waters, with the aim of providing a solution against eutrophication and to understand more deeply the impact of changing environmental conditions on Ulva metabolism.
I am a Research Masters student in Dr. Sulpice lab where I focus on the application of Ulva spp. in wastewater systems. I graduated in BSc. Plant and AgriBiosciences at University of Galway in 2020, where I completed my final year project in Dr. Sulpice lab focusing on the genetic diversity amongst tubular Ulva species around the west of Ireland. After my degree, I joined Sulpice lab as a Masters Student where I was fortunate to receive a 24 month scholarship with Nestlé.
My project involves genotyping, phenotyping and tolerance of Ulva species in low salinity environments, together with the effects on their nutrient and biochemical composition. I am assessing the suitability of Ulva as a tertiary treatment in wastewater systems.
Marta Crespo Sanchez
Jorge Santa maría San Segundo
Past lab members
Antoine originally worked on plant improvement in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana, by using whole genome duplications and their associated growth, genetic and epigenetic responses. In Sulpice’s lab, Antoine specialises in green and brown algae growth monitoring and performance assessment, through the use of custom-made phenotyping platforms. Antoine aims to characterise the effect(s) of the genetic diversity of green and brown algae on growth and metabolism.
Lecturer at the GMIT, Galway, Ireland since september 2019
Dr Jose M. Fariñas-Franco is a marine benthic ecologist, taxonomist and scientific diver with more than 15 years’ experience working in industry and academia. His main research interests are the biodiversity of marine benthic communities, especially the role of keystone species and the conservation and ecological restoration of marine habitats. As a postdoctoral researcher within the GENIALG project, Jose is studying the effects of cultivated algae (e.g. the sugar kelp Saccharina latissima) and associated growing structures in coastal ecosystems, focusing on their interaction with local biodiversity and faunal community assemblages. Jose is also an adjunct lecturer in Zoology at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway.
Dr. Alberto Abrantes Esteves Ferreira
Growth and metabolism in cyanobacteria
Alberto graduated in Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), Minas Gerais, Brazil; where he also got his MSc. in Plant Physiology. Currently, he holds a CAPES/Science Without Borders PhD fellowship and works on the ecophysiology and metabolism of cyanobacteria, seeking to identify the growth limiting factors of these microorganisms and improve their production of biomass and bioproducts. Alberto obtained his Ph.D in February 2018.
Dr Xiaozhen Han
Inés Coca Tagarro
The role of seaweed aquaculture in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity: a case study comparing two cultivated kelp species native to Ireland.
Marei SFI centre/Arramara project
Evaluating the effects of harvesting knotted wrack Ascophyllum nodosum on Irish coastal ecosystems. Recommendations towards best practice and resource management
Charlène graduated in BSc Applied Biology at the Aeres University of Almere (The Netherlands), during which she learnt about plant biotechnology and seaweed
cultivation at Wageningen University. After her BSc, she made a Pre-Master in biology at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG, the Netherlands). During her internships at NIOZ Texel and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, she obtained skills in seaweed identification and seaweed cultivation. In Sulpice lab she is studying the ecological effects of Ascophyllum nodosum harvesting to develop recommendations for best seaweed harvest practices.
Kallyne Ambrósio Barros
Regulation of barley growth in response to environmental factors
Kallyne holds a CNPq fellowship, Science Without Borders programme from Brazil. She graduated in Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), Minas Gerais, Brazil; where she also got MSc. in Plant Physiology. She worked on plant anatomy, alternative mitochondrial metabolism, and the role of organic acids in stomatal movements. In Sulpice lab, she is working on the primary metabolism of barley plants grown under different stresses.
Past Undergraduate Students
- Eoin Dunne
- Daniel Durkin
- Catherine Rooney
- James Noonan
- Morgane Lebrault (2nd year ENSAIA, University of Lorraine, France)
- Margot Allaire (2nd year Student, University of Le Mans, France)