Microbial Ecophysiology


Copper mining is a pillar of the Chilean economy. However, this industry heavily pollutes the environment. Therefore bioleaching, a method that uses microbes to catalyze metal recovery is becoming a cleaner alternative for metal recovery. The procedure still remains quite empirical, hampering copper exploitation in heap reactors. The lack of in situ control of the processes is largely due to our limited understanding of the biology, ecology and dynamics of the consortia of extreme acidphiles acting as catalysts. For this reason our group uses cutting edge technologies and a powerful combination of computational and functional genomics as well as basic biochemistry and molecular biology tools to advance the understanding of the dynamics and the interactions between all players (bacteria, archaea, virus) present in the bioleaching and extreme acidic econiches. Through our research we aim to uncover critical metabolic control points that may affect mineral recovery and contribute to the general knowledge of extremophiles.


Research Head: Raquel Quatrini

Doctoral Students: Ana Moya-Beltrán • Francisco Issotta Contardo • Dilanaz Arisan • Sebastián Pacheco Acosta • Fernando Díaz Gonzalez

Undergraduate Students: Abraham Zapata Araya

Research Assistants: Yasna Gallardo Briceño • Hector Carrasco Gallardo • Camila Rojas Valdebenito • Danitza Silva Garcia

Post-doctoral Fellows: Simón Beard Bórquez


National Collaborations:
• Dr. Matías Castro (Universidad San Sebastían, Concepción)
• Dr. Beatriz Diéz (Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago)
• Dr. Alejandra Loyola (Fundación Ciencia & Vida, Santiago)
• Dr. Iván Ñancucheo (Universidad San Sebastían, Concepción)
• Dr. Francisco Remonselléz (Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta)
• Dr. Mario Vera (Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago)

International Collaborations:
• Dr. Mauro Degli Esposti (Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico)
• Dr. Alejandra Giaveno (Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Neuquén, Argentina)
• Dr. D. Barrie Johnson (Bangor University, Bangor, North Wales, UK)
• Dr. Eugene Koonin (NCBI, National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, USA)
• Dr. Jiri Kucera (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)
• Dr. Daniel Paredes Sabja (A&E Texas University, Texas, USA)
• Dr. Pedro Temporetti (Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina)


Matías Castro Gonzales (former Post-doc 2018-2019/2015-2016)
Research Professor at Universidad San Sebastián, Concepción, Chile

Rodrigo Flores Ríos (former Post-doc 2018-2019; former PhD student, graduated 2018)
Research Associate at the Laboratorio de Biología Molecular Bacteriana, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Lillian Acuña Olivares (former Post-doc 2014-2017; former PhD student, graduated 2013)
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Laboratorio de Genética y Patogénesis Bacteriana, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile

Francisco Ossandón (former Post-doc 2013-2015)
Data Science Manager at Biome Makers Inc., West Sacramento, California, USA

Harold Nuñez Burgos (former Post-doc 2012-2016)
General DTC Manager at Psomagen Inc., Rockville, USA

Paulo Covarrubias Pizarro (former PhD student, graduated 2019)
Professional at the Subdepartamento de Genética Molecular, Instituto de Salud Pública, Santiago, Chile

Juan Pablo Cárdenas Astudillo (former PhD student, graduated 2015)
Profesor Asistente, Investigador del Centro de Genómica y Bioinformática, Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile

Mauricio Arenas Salinas (former PhD student, graduated 2014)
Associate Professor and Researcher at the Centro de Bioinformática y Simulación Molecular, Universidad de Talca, Talca, Chile

Stefano Bueno Rossoni (former Master student, graduated 2020)
Cesar Valenzuela Alegría (former Master student, graduated 2020)
Karina Cordero Fernández (former Master student, graduated 2020)
Victor Alegría Mera (former Master student, graduated 2017)
Cristian Silva Fernández (former Master student, graduated 2011)
Cristopher Oporto Alarcón (former Master student, graduated 2009)
Ivette Olave Orellana (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2019)
Yazna Tapia Cisternas (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2018)
Rodolfo Gómez Salinas (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2018)
María Ignacia von Unger (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2016)
María Isabel Yanquepe (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2014)
Francisco Luciano Issotta Contardo (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2014)
Ana Rosa Moya Beltrán (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2014)
Alfredo Monsalve Bustos (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2013)
Pablo Tapia Salinas (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2012)
Juan José Haristoy Lagos (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2012)
David Loyola (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2011
Pamela Nieto Pacheco (former Undergraduate student, graduated 2009)