Dr Maria Huete-Ortega


Postdoctoral Research Associate

Email: m.hueteortega@sheffield.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 7594

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
The University of Sheffield
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Portobello Street
Sheffield, S1 3JD,
United Kingdom

Links: University Profile



My research deals with the study of the structure and metabolism of microalgal communities, how they acclimate and adapt to environmental factors and how this can be used to better use these organisms as a source of bioenergy. I conduct my research through the development of three interlinked lines of work:

  1. The first one (started at University of Vigo under the supervision of Dr. Maranon) is focused on using cell size as a main trait to describe phytoplankton structure and function. It is based on determining the variability in the relationship between phytoplankton cell size and abundance, biomass and metabolism (mainly photosynthesis and chlorophyll a) through a combination of field and laboratory-based work and following continuous (size-scaling relationships) and discrete (size-fractionated analysis) approaches. By relating the variability observed in these relationships with those main environmental factors that drive phytoplankton physiology and ecology, such as resource limitation or water-column dynamism, I try to explain patterns in phytoplankton community structure and functioning in marine ecosystems.
  2. The second line (started at University of Essex under Prof. Geider's supervision) focuses on the analysis of the biochemistry of key metabolic pathways of phytoplankton such as photosynthesis, calcification or nitrogen fixation as a way to explain phytoplankton metabolism and community composition. My main goal in this line is to study how environmental factors exert changes in the biochemistry (mainly in the proteome) of biogeochemically key species of phytoplankton and how responses at the biochemical level translate into changes in the physiology and ecology of phytoplankton. To achieve this I conduct label-free and targeted LC/MS proteomic analysis on phytoplankton laboratory and field-based experiments. Amongst others, I am especially interested in studying the effect of global change-driven environmental factors such as ocean acidification or nutrient limitation on the remodeling of phytoplankton proteome.
  3. The third line (developed at University of Sheffield in Dr Raman Vaidyanathan's group) is focused on combining metabolomics, proteomics and transcriptomics approaches in a system study of the efficiency of microalgae as a source of sustainable biofuel production.
  • December 2013- Present: Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering of University of Sheffield (UK)
  • January 2012-December 2013: Postdoctoral Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Biological Sciences of University of Essex (UK)
  • 2011: PhD in Marine Ecology at University of Vigo (Spain)
  • 2007: MPhil in Ecology at University of Vigo (Spain)
  • 2005: BSc in Biology at University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

Principal Investigator

 Dr Raman Vaidyanathan



Marañón, E. et al. (including Huete-Ortega, M.) 2013. Unimodal size scaling of phytoplankton growth and the size dependence of nutrient uptake and use. Ecology Letters, 16:371-379.

Huete-Ortega, M. et al. (2012). Isometric size-scaling of metabolic rate and phytoplankton size abundance distribution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences, 279: 1815-1823.

Huete-Ortega, M. et al. (2011). Effect of environmental forcing on the biomass, production and growth rate of size-fractionated phytoplankton in the central Atlantic. Journal of Marine Systems, 88: 203-213.

Moreno-Ostos, E. et al. (including Huete-Ortega, M.) (2011). Size-fractionated phytoplankton biomass and production in the tropical Atlantic. Scentia Marina, 75 (2): 379-389.

Marañón, E. et al. (including Huete-Ortega, M.). (2010). Degree of oligotrophy controls the response of microbial plankton to Saharan dust. Limnology and Oceanography, 55 (6): 2339-2352.

Huete-Ortega, M. et al. (2010). General patterns in the size scaling of phytoplankton abundance during 10-years time series in coastal waters. Journal of Plankton Research, 32: 1-14.

Cermeño, P., et al. (including Huete-Ortega, M.). (2008). Resource levels, allometric scaling of population abundance and marine phytoplankton diversity. Limnology and Oceanography. 53 (1): 312-318.nt Marine Cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus marinus MED4. Journal of Proteome Research, 6, 3, 996 – 1005.