Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz

Plant Scientist Research Group Leader
Cell and Molecular Sciences
T: +44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

View Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz on ORCID

Gabriela graduated with a B.Sc. (Honors) in Chemistry and a MSc. in Biochemistry from the National University of Mexico (UNAM). From her Senior Undergraduate year she joined the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. At CAL, she worked in Prof. Wilhelm Gruissem’s lab on mechanisms of RNA processing in chloroplasts and later on in protein isoprenylation and isoprenoid biosynthesis. After her MSc, she remained at Berkeley for her PhD within Prof. Peter Quail's lab (Fulbright/UCMEXUS PhD Fellowship), where she began her training as a photobiologist working in phytochrome light signal transduction pathways. Upon completion of her PhD she moved to Prof.Akira Nagatani’s lab in Kyoto University (JSPS Fellowship). In the Nagatani lab, she continued her work in photobiology studying physiological and cell biological aspects of phytochrome signaling. In 2007, she joined CRAG-Barcelona to work with Dr. Manuel Rodriguez-Concepcion on light regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis (Juan de la Cierva Researcher & JAE DOC; EMBO Short Term, University of Texas Austin, Huq Lab). In 2012 she was awarded a Marie Curie (Career Integration) to work at the University of Edinburgh with Prof. Karen Halliday. During this time, she focused her research on light and temperature signal integration pathways for the control of plant metabolic pathways and the regulation of photosynthetic pigment biosynthesis by external cues. As a Lecturer in Plant Sciences at Lancaster University, (2015-2022) her group focused on dissecting novel mechanisms by which environmental cues (light and temperature) induce changes in plant photosynthetic metabolism. In 2022, joined the James Hutton Institute in Dundee as a Group Leader in Plant Sciences to address fundamental and applied aspects of photobiology and the balance between plant growth and phytonutrient production.


My research at the James Hutton focuses on fundamental and applied questions in photobiology. We combine multidisciplinary studies in photobiology and chloroplast biology (molecular genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics) in Arabidopsis thaliana, tomato and horticultural crops to elucidate the molecular links behind the photoreceptors environmental control of photosynthesis, chloroplast metabolism and the production of phytonutrients relevant for human nutrition.

Using Arabidopsis as a model, our fundamental research program focuses on dissecting the role of the phytochrome photoreceptors in orchestrating plastid-nucleus communication channels for acclimating photosynthesis to a changing environment and the production of antioxidants. We are interested in characterizing the role of transcriptional and post-transcription cascades in delivering the phytochrome-photoreceptors signals to organelles for adjusting chloroplast functions to the prevailing environments.

Our transdisciplinary and trans-sectorial work in tomato and vertical farming, aims to contribute to the generation of sustainable food systems for highly nutritious food. In tomato we are collaborating with Mexico to implement together with Mexican natural and social scientists, traditional farmers, traditional cooks, chefs and seed saving groups, a program for the conservation and characterization of ancestral tomato agrodiversity resources. These genetic resources have unique cultural and biological value, including adaptation to challenging environments  and production of high levels of antioxidants and vitamins important for human health. Such resources can play a key role to maintain important characteristics of the cultivar under global warming.

This research area also links with our applied photobiology programs where in partnerships with industry in the areas of LED technologies and vertical farming, we aim to optimize production of high nutrition horticultural cultivars in controlled environments.

Past research