Paul Iturbe Espinoza / PhD student

Paul Iturbe Espinoza

Contact details:
O2 building, room 01W58
T:  +31 20 5987156

About me

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biology in the National University San Antonio Abad from Cusco, Peru in 2012. I finished my Master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology in the University of Barcelona, Spain in 2014. Currently, as a result of a grant from FONDECYT-CONCYTEC Peru, I am a PhD student in the Systems Bioinformatics group at the VU Amsterdam.

My project is about oil biodegradation. It is ill-understood why alkanes are degraded prior to the far more toxic PAHs, and which strategies alkane- and aromate-degraders employ, perhaps together, to maximize their survival. A better, systems biology –derived understanding of the interactions between microorganisms and their environment during oil degradation may enable the rational engineering of oil-degrading microbial communities such that toxic PAHs are degraded sooner and faster. In order to achieve more such understanding, my project will combine state-of-the-art molecular tools of microbial ecology, systems biology approaches, and multivariate analysis, combined with microcosms experiments and conventional enrichments, isolation, and physiological characterization.


  1. Iturbe-Espinoza P, Gil-Moreno S, Lin W, Calatayud S, Palacios Ò, Capdevila M, et al. (2016) The FungusTremella mesenterica Encodes the Longest Metallothionein Currently Known: Gene, Protein and Metal Binding Characterization. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148651. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148651.