Elena Vidal, PhD.

Director Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Principal Investigator, and Assistant Professor

Plant Genomics and Systems Biology Laboratory (PlantomicsLab)

PhD in Biological Sciences, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.


Líneas de Investigación

  • Redes regulatorias en el control de desarrollo vegetal y la respuesta al ambiente



Plant Genomics and Systems Biology Laboratory

The aim of our group is to identify gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in the control of plant response to the environment, and their impact on plant development. We are particularly interested in studying the role of these networks in plant roots, given their high plasticity and key role in nutrient acquisition and interaction with soil organisms. In order to fulfill our experimental goals, we use a combination of genetic, genomic, and systems biology approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and also in plants of the Solanaceae family. Our current research lines include:

  1. GRNs controlled by small RNAs in plant development and response to nutrient limitation,
  2. Nutrient-hormone crosstalk in root remodelling,
  3. Molecular mechanisms of plant communication with other organisms and their role in promotion of abiotic stress resistance.


Dr. Vidal is a biochemist and obtained her PhD in Biological Sciences from P. Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), working with Dr. Rodrigo A. Gutiérrez. Her main expertise involves the use of systems biology and functional genomics approaches to address and produce testable biological hypotheses. Her Doctoral work involved the use of high-throughput sequencing technologies and data analysis to identify the small RNA (sRNA) and mRNA components of the transcriptome in response to nitrate in Arabidopsis thaliana. She received training in these subjects in Dr. Gloria Coruzzi’s Laboratory in New York University -a leader in plant systems biology- and Dr. W. Richard Mc Combie’s Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor -one of the pioneers in high throughput sequencing-, where she acquired a strong expertise in identifying and quantifying the expression of sRNAs and in sRNA target identification and experimental validation. Her work in this subject produced publications of considerable impact.

After finishing her PhD, she worked as adjunct researcher of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at PUC, supported by an Academy Insertion fellowship (Proyecto Bicentenario de Ciencia y Tecnología). As associate researcher, she was involved in several projects most of them related to the identification of Nitrogen-controlled regulatory networks, which have produced many ISI publications that have a remarkable acceptation in the field, being cited numerous times. Dr. Vidal participated as a Doctoral student and Postdoctoral fellow of the Millennium Nucleus in Plant Functional Genomics and is now Associated Researcher of the Millennium Institute in Integrative Biology iBio.

Dr. Vidal started her laboratory as an assistant professor at the Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) at Universidad Mayor in June 2016. Her research interest focuses on the identification of regulatory networks controlling plant responses to the environment.

Selected publications

  1. Vidal, E.A., Araus, V., Lu, C., Parry, G., Green, P.J., Coruzzi, G.M., and Gutiérrez, R.A., 2010, Nitrate-responsive miR393/AFB3 regulatory module controls root system architecture in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A. 107, 4477-4482
  2. Vidal EA, Moyano TC, Riveras E, Contreras-López O, Gutiérrez RA, 2013, Systems approaches map regulatory networks downstream of the auxin receptor AFB3 in the nitrate response of Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 110(31):12840-5
  3. Alvarez JM, Riveras E, Vidal EA, Gras DE, Contreras-López O, Tamayo KP, Aceituno F, Gómez I, Ruffel S, Lejay L, Jordana X, Gutiérrez RA, 2014, Systems approach identifies TGA1 and TGA4 transcription factors as important regulatory components of the nitrate response of Arabidopsis thaliana roots. The Plant Journal, 80:1-13
  4. Riveras, E, Alvarez, JM, Vidal, EA, Oses, C, Vega, A, Gutiérrez, RA, 2015, The Calcium Ion Is a Second Messenger in the Nitrate Signaling Pathway of Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology, 169(2):1397-404
  5. Gras, D.E*., Vidal, E.A*., Undurraga, S.F., Riveras, E., Moreno, S., Dominguez-Figueroa, J., Alabadi, D., Blázquez, M.A., Medina, J., and Gutiérrez, R.A. , 2018, SMZ/SNZ and gibberellin signaling are required for nitrate-elicited delay of flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana. J. Exp. Bot. 69, 619-631



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