Jonatan Martin Rodriguez

Senior research specialist

About me

My research focuses on bacterial physiology, signaling and biofilms, both from fundamental and applied standpoints. I also investigate strategies interfering with bacterial colonization of biotic/abiotic surfaces and infection-related phenotypes. I have a keen interest in genome sequence analysis as a way to understand bacterial diversity and evolution. 

Research description

Biofilm physiology

My research focuses on the association between respiration phenomena and bacterial colonization of biotic and abiotic substrata through biofilm formation. I try to unravel the physiological and signalling mechanisms linking these two a priori unrelated processes.

In the marine indigenous bacterium and emerging pathogen Shewanella algae, my research has shown a strain-specific association between respiration of alternative electron acceptors and biofilm formation, and I have demonstrated that it is the anaerobic reduction of these compounds that triggers downstream events leading to surface colonization. Our efforts are now focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating this response, with special focus on c-di-GMP signaling. 

Recently, I have expanded this respiration-biofilm tandem interplay to other bacterial models (uropathogenic Escherichia coli), where I have been able to find associations with implications in infectivity. I currently explore the role of respiratory nitrate utilization in enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli biofilm formation.


New times bring new technologies, and whole genome sequencing has revolutionized many ‘gold standards’ in classic microbiology. I am interested in gaining a deeper understanding on S. algae evolution through genome sequence analysis to correlate genomic composition with phenotypic diversity. In a broader perspective, we are also making efforts to shed light on the taxonomy of Shewanella spp.

Alternative treatments

Antibiotic resistance and bacterial biofilm formation are two major challenges in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infectious diseases. Therapies targeting key physiological processes involved in biofilm formation, infectivity, persistence, host colonization or virulence factor production are likely to become alternative ways of treating bacterial infections in the coming years and a way to prevent the undesirable presence and proliferation of bacteria in different contexts including on materials and devices. The identification of small molecules with such a potential and the understanding of their mode of action is also under my sphere of interests. 

Teaching portfolio

-B.Sc. thesis supervision: University of La Laguna (1), KI (2).

-M.Sc. research work supervision: KI(1)

-Examiner, B.Sc. theses in Medicine (KI, 2018).

-Teaching assistant at the bacteriology laboratory, B.Sc. Biomedicine and B.Sc. Medicine, (KI, 2017-2019).

-Seminar teacher and lecturer in B.Sc. and Ph.D courses (Karolinska Instituet, 2017-2020).

-Teaching and Learning in Higher Education course (5 weeks, spring 2019).


2016 - PhD, Biomedical Sciences. University of La Laguna (Spain).

2012 - MSc Biotechnology. University of La Laguna (Spain).

2011 - MSc Oceanography. University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain).

2008 - BSc + MSc Industrial Engineering, esp. Chemistry. University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain).

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Selected grants after PhD completion:

2020 Längmanska Kulturfonden: BA20-0736.

2019 Anna and Gunnar Vidfelts Fond for Biological Resarch: 2019-051.

2019 Lars Hiertas Minne Stiftelse: FO19-0293.

2019 Längmanska Kulturfonden: BA19-1128.

2018 Lars Hiertas Minne Stiftelse: FO2018-0196.

2018 Hans Dahlbergs Stiftelse.

2018 Karolinska Instituet Research Foundation Grant: FS-2018:0007.

2016 FEMS Research grant: RG-2015-0084.

Commissions of trust:

2020 Curator for the Shewanella spp. MLST database available at PubMLST 

2017 Guest Editor for the journal Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, special issue on ‘Recent advances in anti-biofilm strategies’.

Peer review activity:

Biotechnology Advances (Elsevier), Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (ACS), Journal of Medical Microbiology (Microbiology Society), Biofouling (Taylor and Francis), Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (Springer), Marine Drugs (MDPI), Drug Design Development and Therapy (Dove Press), Genetica (Springer), Molecules (MDPI), Letters in Drug Design & Discovery (Bentham Science), Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation (Karger), BMC Veterinary Research (BMC), Applied Sciences (MDPI),  International Microbiology (Springer-Nature), Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases (BMC), Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Elsevier), Ecotoxicology (Springer-Nature), 3Biotech (Springer-Nature), Pathogens (MDPI), Microorganisms (MDPI), International Journal of Molecular Sciences (MDPI).

Review board member of Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology and Microorganisms.

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