Dr. Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso

Dr. Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso


I am a lecturer at the School of Biology/Centre for Plant Sciences (CPS), University of Leeds (UoL) since 2013. During postdoctoral stays at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York, USA) and at the John Innes Centre (JIC) (Norwich, UK), I gained extensive experience in plant, cell and molecular biology applied to investigate the regulation of intercellular symplastic communication. As a group leader, I pursue the cross-disciplinary aspect of my research through active collaborations with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Astbury Centre for Structural Biology and computational biologists at Leeds. My work has produced papers of high academic impact (>950 total citations). Research in my lab was/is funded by EPSRC, The Royal Society and Leverhulme Trust. I have also received industrial and impact funding to work with BASF Plant Science.

I have published pioneering work on callose metabolism and function in the regulation of plasmodesmata and symplastic signalling (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. (2009) 106,3615-20; Dev. Cell. (2013) 26,136-47; Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. (2013) 110,9166-70; Frontiers Plant Sci. (2014) 23 (5):212). I also collaborated in addressing the plasmodesmata proteome and membrane composition (PLoS ONE (2011) 6,e18880; Plant Cell (2015) 27, 1228-1250) and the relations between symplastic and apoplastic loading (Plant Physiology (2016) 172,1876–1898). These publications had significant impact on the scientific community and were highly reccomended by Faculty 1000. More recently, my work (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) focuses on dissecting the physico-mechanical properties of structural component at plasmodesmata domain and the function of β-1,3-glucan, callose, and cellulose as regulators of cell walls and intercellular signalling.


  • FBS Equality and Inclusion coordinator
  • Deputy Admission tutor School of Biology
  • Module manager

Research interests

Cell-to-cell signalling, callose properties and plasmodesmata, plant root development and environmental responses

Our research aims to reveal the molecular factors regulating plant development and response to the environment, which can be applied in the development of strategies that underpin crop improvement and enhanced agricultural sustanability. Current projects focus in the regulation of intercellular communication via channels (called Plasmodesmata; PD) that connect the cytoplasm of neighboring cells; through PD transcription factors, miRNA and other macromolecules can move outside the cell that produces them and act as long (via the phloem) and short distance signals to coordinate development. This molecular communication controls organ growth and architecture and their responses to changes in the environment (i.e. nutrient availability, virus spreading and other pathogenic infections, nodulation by nitrogen-fixing bacteria, etc.) .

We apply a number of genetic and cell biology tools and resources to identify how plasmodesmata communication and callose influences root development in the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and during symbiosis in the model legume Medicago truncatula.We also use cross-disciplinaries approaches (in collaboration with soft polymer physicists and computational modellers) to understand the influence of callose (a cell wall polymer that constrict the channel) and PD aperture/molecular flux in cell fate and mechanical properties. For more info please consult benitezalfonso@wordpress.ac.uk

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • HEA fellow

Professional memberships

  • EPSRC peer review college member
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Spanish Researchers in UK
  • LbNet
  • IBCarb
  • GARNet

Student education

Studentship information

See also:

Research groups and institutes

  • Plant Science
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1048-from-waste-to-sustainable-products:-structural-characterization-of-polysaccharides-and-by-products-extracted-after-processing-agricultural-crops">From waste to sustainable products: Structural characterization of polysaccharides and by-products extracted after processing agricultural crops</a></li> <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/708-learning-from-plant-cell-walls-as-a-path-for-innovations-in-food-and-material-sciences">Learning from plant cell walls as a path for innovations in food and material sciences</a></li>