Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Luis Rubio

Posted by | March 13, 2021


Luis Rubio

Job Title:

Associate Professor


Phone Number:



Google Scholar Profile


My scientific career has focused on the study of molybdozymes and their applications. PhD by the University of Seville-CSIC in 1999 with a study of nitrate assimilation in cyanobacteria, I moved as a postdoctoral researcher to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I began to work with Paul Ludden on nitrogenase assembly. As a career researcher at the University of California-Berkeley, I co-directed for 6 years the research of a leading laboratory in nitrogenase biosynthesis. I returned to Europe in 2008 thanks to an ERC Starting Grant. At the moment I am Associate Professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Deputy Director of the Center for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology. We have recently performed bioengineering of a nitrogenase component in yeast providing technology and key concepts for the development of other nitrogen-fixing organisms, including cultivated plants. The following is a list of some contributions from my group:

• Complete in vitro synthesis of FeMo-co from atomic constituents with purified proteins (2007).
• Demonstration that an [Fe-S] cluster functions in the sequestration and trafficking of Mo, thereby uncovering a previously unknown role for [Fe-S] clusters in biology (2008).
• Elucidation of the in vivo concentration and changes over time of all nitrogenase biosynthetic proteins (2014).
• Detailed characterization of NifB and its product NifB-co, essential to all nitrogenases (2016).
• Development of a high-throughput screen for H2-overproducing variants of nitrogenase (2016).
• First expression of the active form of an oxygen-sensitive protein component of nitrogenase in an aerobic eukaryote (2016).

Research Areas:

  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Metalloenzymes

Current N-related Projects:

  • BNF-Cereals
  • Biotechnological Applications of Nitrogenase


1. Burén S, Jiang X, López-Torrejón G, Echavarri-Erasun C, Rubio LM. 2017. Purification and in vitro activity of mitochondria targeted nitrogenase cofactor maturase NifB. Front Plant Sci. 8:1567.

2. Burén S, Young EM, Sweeny EA, Lopez-Torrejón G, Veldhuizen M, Voigt CA, Rubio LM. 2017. Formation of Nitrogenase NifDK Tetramers in the Mitochondria of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ACS Synth Biol. 6: 1043-1055.

3. Barahona E, Jimenez-Vicente E, Rubio LM. 2016. Hydrogen overproducing nitrogenases obtained by random mutagenesis and high-throughput screening. Sci. Rep. 6: 38291.

4. Guo Y, Echavarri-Erasun C, Demuez M, Jiménez-Vicente E, Bominaar EL, Rubio LM. 2016. The nitrogenase FeMo-cofactor precursor formed by NifB is a diamagnetic 8 iron-containing cluster. Angew. Chem. 55: 12764-12767.

5. Wilcoxen J, Arragain S, Scandurra AA, Jimenez-Vicente E, Echavarri-Erasun C, Pollmann S, Britt RD, Rubio LM. 2016. Electron paramagnetic resonance characterization of three iron-sulfur clusters present in the nitrogenase cofactor maturase NifB from Methanocaldococcus infernus. J. Am. Chem. Soc.138: 7468-7471.

6. Lopez-Torrejon G, Jiménez-Vicente E, Buesa-Galiano JM, Verma HK, and Rubio LM. 2016 Expression of a functional oxygen-labile nitrogenase component in the mitochondrial matrix of aerobically grown yeast. Nat. Commun. 7: 11426. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11426.

7. Curatti L and Rubio LM. 2014. Challenges to develop nitrogen-fixing cereals by direct nif-gene transfer. Plant Sci. 225: 130-137.

8. Poza-Carrión C, Jiménez-Vicente E, Navarro-Rodríguez M, Echavarri-Erasun C, and Rubio LM. 2014. Kinetics of nif gene expression in a nitrogen fixing bacterium. J. Bacteriol. 196: 595-603.