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Jaime Barros-Rios

Jaime Barros-Rios

Assistant Professor
Division of Plant Science and Technology

E-mail: jaime (dot) barros (at) missouri (dot) edu

The Barros laboratory conducts fundamental research and applied biotechnology to offer solutions to address global challenges such as food security, climate change, and sustainable production of energy and commodity chemicals.

Work in our laboratory pursues three broad goals:

  1. To improve food and feed crops for stress tolerance, forage quality, and CO2 sequestration.
  2. To develop bioenergy crops for sustainable production of fuels, chemicals, and bioproducts.
  3. To generate trees with improved properties for paper pulp production.

Our primary focus centers on understanding plant cell wall metabolic processes and, more specifically, the biosynthesis of lignin and related phenolic compounds. Lignin (from Latin lignum: wood) is a heterogeneous aromatic polymer produced in plant cell walls and the second most abundant biopolymer in nature. It constitutes up to 40% of the dry weight of plants and provides mechanical support, facilitates the transport of water and nutrients through the vascular system, and plays a crucial role in plant responses to environmental stresses. As a major component of plants, and due to its inherent chemical properties, lignin is an attractive source for conversion into renewable energy and a target for CO2 storage and sequestration. Work in our laboratory centers on the genetic manipulation of lignin in plant cell walls. Our research group uses Arabidopsis, Brachypodium, maize, and poplar as model systems for gene discovery and validation, and seeks to translate this knowledge into plant breeding, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology programs. We see plant biochemistry, genetics, and biotechnology as key disciplines to speed up the transition from a fossil-based economy to a more sustainable post-petroleum world.


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  • Awards
    • 2022 Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation Ramon y Cajal Early Career Award
    • 2019 Center for Bioenergy Innovation Early Career Award (US Department of Energy)
    • 2016 Conference Travel Award (University of North Texas)
    • 2015 Spanish National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow Award
    • 2012 Barrie Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow Award
    • 2012 PhD Cum Laude Merit Award, University of Vigo, Spain
    • 2009, 2010, 2011 Spanish National Science Foundation Travel Awards
    • 2007 Spanish National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow Award

  • Service
    • 2022 Advisory Board Member - Heliyon Biology (Cell Press)
    • 2022 Associate Editor - Frontiers in Plant Science
    • 2019-2021 President of the UNT-Postdoctoral Association
    • 2017-2020 Evaluator of the UNT Annual Research Day Symposium
    • 2016-17 Dissemination activities with minorities (Outreach NSF project)
    • 2008-12 “Exper-i-Ciencia Program” participant and organizer
    • Verified peer reviewer (+60): Trends in chemistry (IF=14.03), The Plant Cell (IF=9.618), New Phytologist (IF=8.512), Plant Physiology (IF=6.902),Communications Biology (IF=6.268), Plant Cell & Environment (IF=6.173), The Plant Journal (IF=6.141), Biomass and Bioenergy (IF=5.061), Planta (IF=3.347), PLoS One (IF=2.740), Journal of Experimental Botany (IF=5.908), Biotechnology for Biofuels (IF=5.473), Frontiers in Plant Science (IF=4.407), Tree Physiology (IF=4.196), Physiologia Plantarum (IF=4.100), Plant Molecular Biology (IF=4.065), BMC Plant Biology (IF=3.830), Biomass and Bioenergy (IF=3.740), Plant Methods (IF=3.430), G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics (IF=2.781), Phytochemistry (IF=2.547), PeerJ (IF=2.380) y JoVE (IF=1.325), among others.
    • Ad hoc grant reviewer: Spanish National Science Foundation, Swiss National Science Foundation.


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Shrestha HK, Fichman Y, Engle NL, Tschaplinski TJ, Mittler R, Dixon RA, Hettich RL, Barros J*, Abraham PE* (2022). Multi-omic characterization of bifunctional peroxidase 4-coumarate 3-hydroxylase knockdown in Brachypodium distachyon provides insights into lignin modification-associated pleiotropic effects. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.908649

Barros J*, Serrani-Yarce JC, Barros J, Shrestha HK, Serrani-Yarce JC, Engle N, Abraham PE, Tschaplinski, TJ, Hettich RL, Dixon RA (2022) Proteomic and metabolic disturbances in lignin-modified Brachypodium distachyon. Plant Cell doi: 10.1093/plcell/koac171

López-Malvar A, Santiago R, Souto XC, Barros J, Gómez LD, Malvar RA (2022) Cell Wall Composition Impacts Structural Characteristics of the Stems and Thereby the Biomass Yield. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.2c04380

Yao T, Feng K, Xie M, Barros J, Tschaplinski T, Tuskan GA, Muchero W, Chen JG (2021). Phylogenetic occurrence of the phenylpropanoid pathway and lignin biosynthesis in plants. Frontiers in Plant Science. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.704697

López-Malvar A, Malvar RA, Souto XC, Gomez LD, Simister R, Encina A, Barros J, Pereira-Crespo S, Santiago R (2021). Elucidating the Multifunctional Role of the Cell Wall Components in the Maize Exploitation. BMC plant biology doi: 10.1186/s12870-021-03040-3

Serrani-Yarce J, Escamilla L, Barros J, Gallego L, Pu, Y.; Ragauskas A, Dixon R (2021) Targeting Hydroxycinnamoyl CoA: Shikimate Hydroxycinnamoyl Transferase for Lignin Modification in Brachypodium distachyon. Biotechnology for Biofuels doi: 10.1186/s13068-021-01905-1

Zhang J, Barros J*, Mengzhu L (2020) Editorial: Biofuels and Bioenergy. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.3389/FPLS.2020.621380

Dixon RA, Barros J (2020) Lignin Biosynthesis - Old Roads Revisited and New Roads Explored. Open Biology doi: 10.1098/rsob.190215

Barros J, Dixon RA (2020) Plant Phenylalanine/Tyrosine Ammonia-Lyases. Trends in Plant Science doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2019.09.011

Barros J, Escamilla-Trevino L, Song L, Rao X, Serrani-Yarce JC, Palacios MD, Engle N., Choudhury FK, Tschaplinski TJ, Venables BJ, Mittler R, Dixon RA (2019) 4-Coumarate 3-Hydroxylase in the Lignin Biosynthesis Pathway is a Cytosolic Ascorbate Peroxidase. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10082-7

Commentary article: Lei, L (2019) Cytosolic engine. Nature Plants doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0455-3

Xie H, Engle NL, Venketachalam S, Yoo CG, Barros J, Srivastava AC, Pattathil S, Pu Y, Hahn MG, Ragauskas AJ, Nelson RS, Dixon RA, Tschaplinski TJ, Blancaflor E, Tang Y (2019) Combining Loss of Function of FPGS1 and CCoAOMT1 for Lignin Reduction and Improved Saccharification Efficiency in Arabidopsis. Biotechnology for Biofuels doi: 10.1186/s13068-019-1446-3

Mojdeh F, Fonseca LL, Escamilla-Treviño L, Barros J, Engle NL, Yang ZK, Tschaplinski TJ, Dixon RA, Voit EO (2018) A Dynamic Model of Lignin Biosynthesis in Brachypodium distachyon. Biotechnology for Biofuels doi: 10.1186/s13068-018-1241-6

Barros J, Temple S, Dixon RA (2018) Development and Commercialization of Reduced Lignin Alfalfa. Current Opinion in Biotechnology doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2018.09.003

Xie M, Muchero W, Bryan AC, Yee KL, Guo H, Zhang J, Tschaplinski T, Singan VR, Lindquist E, Payyavula RS, Barros J, Dixon RA, Engle N, Jawdy S, Gunter LE, DiFazio SP, Winkler K, Collins C, Schmutz J, Guo H, Feng K, Chen JG, Tuskan GA (2018) A 5-Enolpyruvylshikimate 3-Phosphate Synthase Functions as a Transcriptional Repressor in Populus. Plant Cell doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00168

Santiago R, Lopez-Malvar A, Souto C, Barros J* (2018) Methods for Determining Cell Wall Bound- Phenolics in Maize Stem Tissues. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b05752

Faraji M, Fonseca LL, Escamilla-Treviño L, Barros J, Engle N, Yang ZK, Tschaplinski TJ, Dixon RA, Voit EO (2018) Mathematical Models of Lignin Biosynthesis. Biotechnology for Biofuels doi: 10.1186/s13068- 018-1028-9

Yang H, Barros J, Kourteva G, Rao X, Chen F, Shen H, Liu C, Podstolski A, Belanger F, Havkin-Frenkel D, Dixon RA (2017) A Re-evaluation of the Final Step of Vanillin Biosynthesis in Vanilla planifolia. Phytochemistry doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2017.04.003

Caicedo M, Barros J, Ordas B (2016) Redefining Agricultural Residues as Bioenergy Feedstocks. Materials doi: 10.3390/ma9080635

Barros J, Serrani-Yarce JC, Chen F, Baxter D, Venables BJ, Dixon RA (2016) Role of Bifunctional Ammonia-lyase in Grass Cell Wall Biosynthesis. Nature Plants doi: 10.1038/nplants.2016.50

Commentary article: Maeda HA. (2016) Lignin biosynthesis: Tyrosine shortcut in grasses. Nature plants doi: 10.1038/nplants.2016.80

Barros J*, Romani A, Peleteiro S, Garrote G, Ordas B (2016) Second-Generation Bioethanol of Hydrothermally Pretreated Stover Biomass from Maize Genotypes. Biomass and Bioenergy doi: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2016.03.029

Santiago R, Barros J, Alvarez A, Malvar RA (2016) Agronomic Performance of Maize Populations Divergently Selected for Diferulate Cross-linkage. Journal of Agricultural Science doi: 10.1017/S0021859615001161

Santiago R, Malvar RA, Barros J, Samayoa F, Butrón A (2016) Hydroxycinnamate Synthesis and Association to the Mediterranean Corn Borer Resistance. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b04862

Gallego-Giraldo L, Shadle G, Shen H, Barros J, Fresquet Corrales S, Wang H, Dixon RA (2016) Combining Enhanced Biomass Density with Reduced Lignin Level for Improved Forage Quality. Plant Biotechnology Journal doi: 10.1111/pbi.12439

Barros J, Serk H, Granlund I, Pesquet E (2015) The Cell Biology of Lignification in Higher Plants. Annals of Botany doi: 10.1093/aob/mcv046

Barros J, Romani A, Garrote G, Ordas B (2015) Biomass, Sugar and Bioethanol Potential of Sweet Corn. GBC Bioenergy doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12136

Barros J*, Santiago R, Jung HJG, Malvar RA (2015) Covalent Cross-linking of Cell-Wall Polysaccharides Through Esterified Diferulates as a Maize Resistance Mechanism Against Corn Borers. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry doi: 10.1021/jf505341d

Santiago R, Barros J, Malvar RA (2013) Impact of Cell Wall Composition on Maize Resistance to Pests and Diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences doi: 10.3390/ijms14046960

Barros J, Malvar RA, Jung HJG, Bunzel M, Santiago R (2012) Divergent Selection for Ester-linked Diferulates in Maize Pith Stalk Tissues. Effects on Cell Wall Composition and Degradability. Phytochemistry doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.07.026

Barros, J*, Santiago, R., Malvar, R.A. and Jung, H.-J.G. (2012) Chemical Composition and Cell Wall Polysaccharide Degradability in Pith and Rind Tissues of Mature Maize Internodes. Animal Feed Science and Technology doi: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2012.01.005

Barros J*, Malvar RA, Santiago R (2011) Función de la Pared Celular del Maíz (Zea mays L.) como Mecanismo de Defensa frente a la Plaga del Taladro (Ostrinia nubilalis Hüb. y Sesamia nonagrioides Lef.). Revista de Educación Bioquímica doi: 10.3390/ijms14046960

Barros J*, Malvar RA, Jung HJG, Santiago R (2011) Cell Wall Composition as a Maize Defense Mechanism Against Corn Borers. Phytochemistry doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2011.01.004

Barros J*, Malvar RA, Butron A, Santiago R (2011) Combining Abilities for Maize Internode Basal Ring Length, the Entry Point of the Mediterranean Corn Borer. Plant Breeding doi: 10.1111/j.1439- 0523.2010.01789.x

Santiago R, Sandoya G, Butron A, Barros J, Malvar RA (2008) Changes in Phenolic Concentrations during Recurrent Selection for Resistance to the Mediterranean Corn Borer. (Sesamia nonagrioides Lef.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry doi: 10.1021/jf800922j

(* papers submitted as corresponding author)


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