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: Respiration-driven biofilm formation

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 a special focus on taxis and c-di-GMP signaling. 

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 biofilm-related processes in other E. coli pathotypes.  


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 diversity and 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. 

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a global threat, perhaps one of the most important challenges for humankind in the coming decades. I am interested in the environmental dimension of this phenomenon and the transmission of antibiotic resistance determinants from environmental to pathogenic bacteria. I currently lead projects that interrogate host specificity of mobile elements in Shewanella spp. and Vibrio spp. in aquatic environments, both in the water column and in sediments. Efforts are also devoted to determining levels of antibiotic residues and relating them to the presence and transmission of mobile genetic elements including antibiotic resistance determinants. 

Fighting the enemy

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. thesis/research work supervision: KI (3).

-220 h of teaching (Microbiology) at different levels (BSc, MSc, PhD courses, laboratory courses, etc.), including opponent in B. Sc. and M. Sc. programs in Sweden and abroad. 

-8 weeks of pedagogical training in Sweden.

-Accredited competence as Senior Lecturer (Assoc. Prof.) by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain (approximately equivalent to Docentur).


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

Grants after PhD completion:

2022 Karolinska Institutet Junior Investigator Award for SDG-related research.

2022 Längmanska Kulturfonden: BA22-0537 (main applicant).

2021 ERA-NET Project PARRTAE - Probing Antibiotic Residues and Resistance Transfer in Aquatic Environments (Reference Number: ID 351, participating researcher).

2020 Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation: 2020‐01556 (main applicant). 

2020 Hans Dahlbergs Stiftelse (main applicant).

2020 Längmanska Kulturfonden: BA20-0736 (main applicant).

2019 Anna and Gunnar Vidfelts Fond for Biological Research: 2019-051 (main applicant).

2019 Lars Hiertas Minne Stiftelse: FO19-0293 (main applicant).

2019 Längmanska Kulturfonden: BA19-1128 (main applicant).

2018 Lars Hiertas Minne Stiftelse: FO2018-0196 (main applicant).

2018 Hans Dahlbergs Stiftelse (main applicant).

2018 Karolinska Instituet Research Foundation Grant: FS-2018:0007 (main applicant).

2016 FEMS Research grant: RG-2015-0084 (main applicant).

Commissions of trust:

2022 Guest Editor for Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Rising Stars in Biofilms 2022.

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

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

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