Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology


Our department aims to develop basic research in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology through the study of the structure and expression of prokaryotic cell, eukaryotic, cell and virus genomes.

Head of Department: Rodrigo Gutiérrez

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The main objective of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (DGMM) is to develop fundamental research in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology through the study of the structure and expression of prokaryotic cell, eukaryotic cell, and virus genomes. This is achieved in four areas: i) plant molecular biology, including plant functional genomics and systems biology, ii) environmental microbiology including functional genomics, transcriptomes and proteomes of model aquatic and terrestrial organisms, iii) bacterial pathogenicity, including Immunology, and finally, v) multidisciplinary areas such as bioinformatics and biotechnology.


  • Patricio Arce
  • Susan Bueno
  • Rodrigo de la Iglesia
  • Beatriz Díez
  • Fernán Federici
  • Pablo González
  • Rodrigo Gutiérrez
  • Loreto Holuigue
  • Xavier Jordana
  • Alexis Kalergis
  • Luis Larrondo
  • Francisco Melo
  • José Antonio O'brien
  • Hannetz Roschzttardtz
  • Andreas Schüller
  • Mónica Vásquez

Research Lines

Environmental Microbiology

An important focus of research is the study of the molecular strategies used by terrestrial, marine, and fresh water microorganisms to grow, adapt and respond to multiple changes in their environment. Additionally, the study of microorganisms in extreme environments allows novel projections in the field of biotechnology and astrobiology.

Molecular Genetics of Fungi

Strategies based on functional and comparative genomics intend to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in different fungi to perceive environmental signals and activate, in response, various transcriptional programs.

Immunology and Pathogenesis

Understanding the complex host-pathogen interaction, aimed at deciphering the molecular mechanisms of virulence present in various pathogens (fungi, bacteria and viruses) and the genetic and immunological response of the host, are high-impact research interests being developed by professors in this area. These studies lead to the development of new vaccines to combat highly prevalent and infectious agents in the country.

Plant Biology

In the area of plant molecular biology, cross-cutting approaches are stimulated and supported by genomics, systems biology, and bioinformatics. These new approaches, coupled with traditional plant molecular biology, allow us to address, in depth, the mechanisms of signal transduction and the regulation of gene expression in plants during development, their response to biotic and abiotic stresses and conditions of limited nutrients such as nitrogen.

Bioinformatics, Functional Genomics, and Systems Biology

Research in biology has undergone a revolutionary change in recent years as a result of new genomic technologies in the genomic arena. The complete genomes of several model organisms have been identified and experimental data for each gene accumulates daily at breakneck speed. Our department contributes through the characterization, structural and functional analysis of genomes, using advanced bioinformatics and systems biology tools.


Given the nature of the strategic research interests in our department and their high impact, a connection with the manufacturing sector has been natural. Our department has been positioned in the biotechnology field with applications in farming systems, aquaculture, forestry and biomedical. There exists a demonstrated and recognized ability to address issues of concern reflected in research and innovation of great importance. Our department cultivates and strengthens these initiatives by stimulating the generation of publishable and patentable knowledge.


The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (DGMM) was formed by resolution of the School Council on October 24, 1996, with professors who belonged to the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology. Its internal organization includes the former laboratories of Biochemistry and Microbiology. Currently the department has been strengthened with academics in the field of environmental microbiology and biomedicine.

With the creation, in 1999, of the major of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the PhD Program in the School of Biological Sciences the DGMM has assumed responsibility in its programming and direction. The DGMM looks to continue forming new researchers at the highest level in the fields of Microbiology, Molecular Plant Biology, Immunology, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Environmental Microbiology, and Biotechnology, underdeveloped fields in this country, through training in doctoral programs and the completion of the dissertation.

The DGMM professors teach undergraduate classes in the principal disciplines of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, Plant Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Immunology, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, and Biotechnology according to the program established by the School Directorate of Teaching in accordance with the Department. We serve students in Biochemistry, Bachelor’s Degrees in Biology and Marine Biology, as well as students from other schools in the University. One of the most outstanding teaching activities of the Department is also the direction of undergraduate theses for students in biochemistry and research seminars for Biology and Marine Biology students.