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In its 88-year story, the mission of our institute has been to carry out excellence research in fundamental and applied physical chemistry, contributing to the scientific training of several generations of researchers at the highest level. Our vision is to be an international reference in multidisciplinary research focused on the resolution of the present challenges of our society in the fields of health, biotechnology, new materials, and environment.

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February 2024
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The IQFR will participate in one of the next Mars rover instruments, the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape. The principal investigator is Jose' Antonio Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiologia, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain, and the team of Alfonso Sáiz of the IQFR will participate in the ozone sensor.

 

The evolution of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over Spain from 1996 to 2012 has been analyzed by a group of scientists led by the Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Group (AC2) at IQFR (CSIC), with the participation of the University of Bremen, the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) and the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA).

The study is focused ondensely populated cities of Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia, employing 17 years of NO2 measurements, from 1996 to 2012. This data series combines observations from in-situ air quality monitoring networks and the satellite-based instruments GOME and SCIAMACHY. The results in these five cities show a smooth decrease in the NO2 concentrations of 2% per year in the period 1996-2008, due to the implementation of emissions control environmental legislation, and a more abrupt descend of ~7% per year from 2008 to 2012 as a consequence of the economic recession. In the whole Spanish territory the NO2 levels have decreased by ~22% from 1996 to 2012. In some cities, e.g. Madrid, the decrease in NO2 concentrations surpasses 40%. Statistical analysis of several economic indicators is used to investigate the different factors driving the NO2 concentration trends over Spain during the last two decades.

The work has been published in Scientific Reports

C.A. Cuevas, A. Notario, J.A. Adame, A. Hilboll, A. Richter, J.P. Burrows and A. Saiz-Lopez. Sci. Rep 4, 5887; DOI:10.1038/srep05887 (2014).

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Averaged tropospheric NO2 vertical column density for 1996 (left) and 2011 (right)

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Many dynamical processes in molecules occur in extraordinarily short timescales, of the order of femtoseconds (1 fs = 10-15 s). In order to follow these processes in real time it is necessary to use the fastest stopwatches available, which are made of ultrashort laser light pulses. In the Center for Ultrashort Lasers (CLUR), in the Complutense University, Madrid, a research team with the participation of Rebeca de Nalda, from IQFR (CSIC), has been taking snapshots of some of these ultrafast processes in molecular systems, while trying to understand the details of the underlying light-matter interaction phenomena.

The new ingredient that has been recently added to these studies is an additional laser pulse that goes beyond the observation of the reaction, and is capable of modifying its course. This pulse is sufficiently intense to alter the molecular potentials, and thus, it causes changes in the products of the reaction and the speeds they acquire in reactions where bonds are broken. This work has been published in Nature Chemistry, and it is a demonstration that the fine control of the properties of this "control" laser pulse turns it into a true "photonic scalpel" capable of manipulating chemical reactions, as well as shedding new light into the dynamics of complex molecular dynamical processes.

M. E. Corrales, J. González-Vázquez, G. Balerdi, I. R. Solá, R. de Nalda, L. Bañares, Control of ultrafast molecular photodissociation by laser field induced potentials, Nature Chemistry (2014), doi:10.1038/nchem.2006

 

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    Separation of daughter cells during bacterial cell division requires that the septal cross wall be split by peptidoglycan hydrolases. In Streptococcus pneumoniae an essential protein termed PcsB is predicted to perform this critical operation. Recent evidence shows that the activity of PcsB is regulated by the transmembrane FtsEX complex. In this work the muralytic activity of PcsB is demonstrated for the first time. Furthermore, we report the crystal structure of full-length PcsB showing an unprecedented dimeric structure in which the unique V-shaped coiled-coil domain of each monomer acts as a molecular tweezers locking down the catalytic domain of its dimeric partner in an inactive configuration. This finding strongly suggests that the release of the catalytic domains requires an ATP-driven conformational change in the FtsEX complex, which is most likely conveyed towards the catalytic domains through a set of coordinated movements of the α-helices forming the coiled-coil domain of PcsB.

 

Sergio G. Bartual, Daniel Straume, Gro Anita Stamsås, Inés G. Muñoz, Carlos Alfonso, Martín Martínez-Ripoll, Leiv Sigve Håvarstein* & Juan A. Hermoso *

Structural basis of PcsB-mediated cell separation in Streptococcus pneumoniae

Nature Communications (2014). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4842

 

 

 

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"Pablo García-Risueño started his work on this subject when doing his PhD at the institute."

 

The problem of the electrostatic potential is almost ubiquituous in chemical and atomic/molecular simulations. In this paper just published at the Journal of Computational Chemistry (and appearing at its front cover), Pablo García-Risueno et al. present an analysis of different methods to calculate the classical electrostatic Hartree potential created by charge distributions. This work may enable more accurate and efficient simulations, helping scientists to tackle many new systems.

 

 

webMetabolic resistance to insecticides is the biggest threat to the continued effectiveness of malaria vector control. In the frame of a transnational research program, we have demonstrated that a single amino acid change in the glutathione-s-transferase confers high levels of DDT resistance in the African mosquito Anopheles funestus.  Interestingly, this metabolic resistance marker perfectly correlates with patterns of DDT resistance across Africa. The x-ray structures of two polymorphic GSTe2 corresponding to those populations presenting an intensified resistance or sensitiveness phenotypes show that the mutation confers resistance by enlarging the GSTe2 DDT-binding cavity leading to increased DDT access and metabolism. This knowledge constitutes a valuable tool for future operational monitoring of insecticide resistance in Africa and allows us to design novel molecules with enhanced insecticide properties.

Reference:

A single mutation in the GSTe2 gene allows tracking of metabolically based insecticide resistance in a major malaria vector

Riveron JM, Yunta C, Ibrahim SS, Djouaka R, Irving H, Menze BD, Ismail HM, Hemingway J, H. Ranson, A. Albert  and C.S. Wondji
Genome Biology 2014, 15:R27 (25 February 2014)

Highlighted at:

Insecticide resistance comes of age (ffrench-Constant RH Genome Biology 2014, 15:106 (25 February 2014))

 

On Monday 17 we will have Carlos Villar, from Bruker, to give us an introduction to the use of the FTIR spectrometer Tensor-27. It will take about 3 hours, and he will bring a liquid cell and an ATR setup.

 

The Tensor-27 spectrometer is part of the biophysics lab of use for the IQFR members, located at room 324.

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We will have a get-together to give our farewell to Isabel Cabo as manager of the Institute. It will take place at the hall in front of room 300 at 13:00-13:30.