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Esteve Martínez, Isabel

Barcelona - Barcelona . Biologist, Microbiologist

Dr. Isabel Esteve Martínez, was Professor of Microbiology since 1992 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She was a professor in the Microbiology Unit of the Department of Genetics and Microbiology from 1977 to 2017, and later an honorary professor until August 2019. She held various positions, such as coordinator of the Microbiology Unit at the UAB Campus and director of the Department.

She was born in Barcelona on June 15, 1947. Graduated in Biological Sciences in 1970 from the University of Barcelona, ​​she dedicated her first years of profession to secondary education until in 1973 Dr. Ricard Guerrero, with whom she had already met during her university studies, suggests that she dedicate her professional life to the University. Thus, she began her doctoral thesis at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​where she spent most of her university life. Throughout her career she made stays in centers in the United States, France and Switzerland such as the Center d’Études Nucléaires in Grenoble, the Scripps Institute in California or the University of Boston, among others. She collaborated with many internationally renowned researchers, such as Dr. Lynn Margulis, of whom she was godmother in her appointment as an honorary doctorate at the UAB (2007). She participated in more than 20 national and international research projects, many of them as principal investigator, and authored more than 100 scientific publications ranging from microbial ecophysiology studies to the application of microbes in the bioremediation of metals.

Apart from her activity in research projects, and given her kind and determined character, she established a friendly relationship with most of the researchers that led to a very fruitful scientific exchange. From a very young age she was in love with microorganisms and their ecology, and also with electron microscopy. Hers are the first photomicrographs of bacteria and bacteriophages made at the UAB. Her microscopic studies on the dynamics of populations of photosynthetic microorganisms in karst lakes, such as Banyoles, and the microbial mats of the Ebro delta are also noteworthy as world-wide models. It is important to highlight his contribution to science, especially in the field of microbial ecology and, in particular, of electron microscopy applied to microbiology.

Dr. Isabel Esteve Martínez is part of that generation of pioneers who contributed everything they had and more because the UAB took off and became one of the first universities in the Spanish state.

Dr. Isabel Esteve passed away on October 30, 2020 in Barcelona.

Featured publications

  • Changes in the ultrastructure of the purple sulfur bacteria Chromatium minus depending on the variation of light in a natural habitat. 1980. Esteve I, Montesinos E, Abellà C. & Guerrero R.. Electron Microcopy 2: 456-457
  • Comparison between direct methods for determination of microbial cell volume: electron microscopy and electronic particle sizing. 1983. Montesinos E., Esteve I& Guerrero R. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 45: 1651-1658
  • Phototrophic sulfur bacteria in two Spanish lakes: Vertical distribution and limiting factors. 1985. Guerrero R, Montesinos E, Pedrós-Alió C, Esteve I, Mas J, Van Gemerden H, Hofman PAG & Bakker JF. Limnol Oceano. 83:2138-2142
  • Predatory bacteria in prokaryotic communities: The earliest trophic relationships. 1987. Guerrero R, Esteve I, Pedrós-Alió C & Gaju N. PNAS Annals NY Academy of Science 503: 238-250
  • Vertical stratification and microbial assemblage of a microbial mat in the Ebro Delta (Spain). Mir J, Martínez-Alonso M, Esteve I & Guerrero R. 1991. FEMS Microbial Ecol. 86:59-68
  • Distribution of predatory bacteria attacking Chromatiaceae in a sulfureous lake. 1992. Gaju N, Esteve I & Guerrero R. Microb. Ecol. 24: 171-179
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy as a tool to determine cyanobacteria biomass in microbial mats. 2001. Solé A, Gaju N, Méndez-Alvarez S & Esteve I. Jour. Microscopy 204: 258-262
  • Solé A, Gaju N y Esteve I. 2003.The Biomass Dynamics of Cyanobacteria in an Annual Cycle Determined by Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy. Scanning. The Journal of Scanning Microscopies, 25(1):1-7.
  • Wieland A, Kühl M, Mc Gowan L, Fourçans A, Duran R, Caumette P, Garcia de Oteyza T, Grimalt JO, Solé A, Diestra E, Esteve I y Herbert, R.A. 2003. Microbial Mats on the Orkney Islands Revisited: Microenvironment and Microbial Community Composition. Microl Ecol, 46(4):371-390.
  • García de Oteyza T, Grimalt JO, Diestra E, Solé A y Esteve I. 2004. Changes in the composition of polar and apolar crude oil fractions under the action of Microcoleus consortia. Appl Microbiol and Biotechnol, 66:226-232.
  • Diestra E, Solé A, Martí M, Garcia de Oteyza T, Grimalt JO y Esteve I. 2005. Characterization of an oil-degrading Microcoleus consortium by means of Confocal Scanning Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy. The Journal of Scanning Microscopies, 27:176-180.
  • Sánchez O, Diestra E, Esteve I y Mas J. 2005. Molecular characterization of an oil-degrading cyanobacterial consortium. Microb Ecol, 50(4):580-588.
  • Morphological and ultrastructural characterization of an unusual purple sulfur bacterium from a marine microbial-mat community. 2006. Martínez-Alonso M, Mir J, Gaju N & Esteve I.  Micron 37: 538-543
  • García de Oteyza T, Grimalt JO, Llirós M y Esteve I. 2006. Microcosms experiments of oil degradation by microbial mats. Science of the Total Environment. 357:12-24.
  • Fourçans A, Solé A, Diestra E, Ranchou-Peyruse A, Esteve I, Caumette P y Duran R. 2006. Vertical migration of phototrophic bacterial populations in a hypersaline microbial mat from Salins-de-Giraud (Camargue, France). FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 57(3), 367-377. 
  • Solé A, Mas J y Esteve I. 2007. A new method based on image analysis for determining cyanobacterial biomass by CLSM in stratified benthic sediments. Ultramicroscopy 107(8):669- 673. 
  • Llirós M, Gaju N, García de Oteyza T, Grimalt JO, Esteve I y Martínez-Alonso M. 2008. Microcosm experiments of oil degradation by microbial mats II. The changes in microbial species. Science of the Total Environment. 393: 39-49.
  • Solé A, Diestra E, y Esteve I. 2009. Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy Image Analysis for Cyanobacterial Biomass Determined at Microscale Level in Different Microbial Mats. Microb. Ecol. 57(4):649-656
  • Burnat M, Diestra E, Esteve I y Solé, A. 2009. In Situ Determination of the Effects of Lead and Copper on Cyanobacterial Populations in Microcosms. PLoS ONE, 4(7), e6204.
  • Maldonado J, Diestra E, Huang L, Domènech AM, Villagrasa E, Puyen ZM, Duran R, Esteve I y Solé A. 2010. Isolation and identification of a bacterium with high tolerance to lead and copper from a marine microbial mat in Spain. Annals Microbiol, 60:113-120.
  • Maldonado J, de los Rios A, Esteve I, Ascaso C, Puyen ZM, Brambilla C y Solé A. 2010. Sequestration and in vivo effect of lead on DE2009 microalga, using high-resolution microscopic techniques. J. Hazard. Mater. 183:44-50. 
  • Wierzchos J, de los Ríos A, Dávila AF, Cámara B, Valea S, Esteve I, Solé A, Roldán M, Rodríguez R, Sánchez-Almazo IM, McKay CP y Ascaso C. 2010. Primary producers in extreme arid environment of the Atacama Desert: Where, how and when? Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73(13,1), A1439. 
  • Maldonado J, Solé A, Puyen ZM y Esteve I. 2011. Selection of bioindicators to detect lead pollution in Ebro delta microbial mats, using high-resolution microscopic techniques. Aquatic Toxicol, 104:135-144.
  • Giloteaux L, Solé A, Esteve I y Duran R. 2011. Bacterial community composition characterization of a lead contamined Microcoleus sp. consortium. Environmental Science and Polution Research, 18: 1147-1159.
  • Puyen Z. M, Villagrasa E, Maldonado J, Diestra E, Esteve y Solé A. 2012. Biosorption of lead and copper by heavy-metal tolerant Micrococcus luteus DE2008. Bioresearch Technol, 126:233-237.
  • Puyen ZM, Villagrasa E, Maldonado J, Esteve I y Solé A. 2012. Viability and biomass of Micrococcus luteus DE2008 at different salinity concentrations determined by specific fluorochromes and CLSM-image analysis. Curr Microbiol 64 (1), 75-80. 
  • Burgos A, Maldonado J, De los Ríos A, Solé A y Esteve I. 2013. Effect of copper and lead on two consortia of phototrophic microorganisms and their capacity to sequester heavy metals. Aquatic Toxicol 140-141:324-336. 
  • Esteve I, Maldonado J, Burgos A, Diestra E, Burnat M y Solé A. 2013. Confocal laser scanning and electron microscopy techniques as powerful tools for determining the in vivo effect and sequestration capacity of lead in cyanobacteria. Chapter 9. In: Ferrão-Filho, A.S. (Eds), Cyanobacteria: Ecology, Toxicology, and Management. Nova Science Publishers Inc., New York.
  • Seder-Colomina M, Burgos A, Maldonado J, Solé A y Esteve I. 2013.The effect of copper on different phototrophic microorganisms determined in vivo and at cellular level by confocal laser microscopy. Ecotoxicol 22:199-205.
  • Coreño-Alonso A, Solé A, Diestra E, Esteve I, Gutiérrez-Corona JF, Reyna López GE, Fernández FJ y Tomasini A. 2014. Mechanisms of interaction of chromium with Aspergillus niger var tubingensis strain Ed8. Biores Technol 158:188-192. 
  • Millach L, Solé A y Esteve I. 2015. Role of Geitlerinema sp. DE2011 and Scenedesmus sp. DE2009 as bioindicators and immobilizers of chromium in a contaminated natural environment. Bio Med Research Internat 2015:1-11. Open Access Article. 
  • Millach L, Obiol A, Solé A y Esteve I. 2017. A novel method to analyse in vivo the physiological state and cell viability of phototrophic microorganisms by confocal laser scanning microscopy using a dual laser. J Microscopy 268(1):53-65.
  • Villagrasa E, Ferrer-Miralles N, Millach L, Obiol A, Creus J, Esteve I y Solé A. 2018. Morphological responses to nitrogen stress deficiency of a new heterotrophic isolated strain of Ebro Delta microbial mats. Protoplasma. Published online. DOI: 10.1007/s00709-018-1263-8. 
  • Millach L, Villagrasa E, Solé A y Esteve I. 2019. Combined confocal laser scanning microscopy techniques for A rapid assessment of the effect and cell viability of Scenedesmus sp. DE2009 under metal stress. Microsc Microanal 25:998-1003.
  • Villagrasa E, Ballesteros B, Obiol A, Millach L, Esteve I y Solé A. 2020. Multi-approach analysis to assess the chromium(III) immobilization by Ochrobactrum anthropi DE2010. Chemosphere 238:124663. 
  • Villagrasa E, Palet C, López-Gómez I, Gutiérrez D, Esteve I, Sánchez-Chardi A y Solé A. 2021. Cellular strategies against metal exposure and metal localization patterns linked to phosphorus pathways in Ochrobactrum anthropi DE2010. J Hazard Mater 402:123808.


This biographical note has been prepared by Dr. Núria Gaju and Dr. Maira Martínez-Alonso, professors at the Microbiology Unit of the Department of Genetics and Microbiology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Image gallery

Isabel Esteve UAB (2015) Source: Family Archive. UAB Environmental Microbiology Group (2017) Source: Family Archive. Research group led by Dra. Isabel Esteve (2017) Source: Family Archive. Research group led by Dra. Isabel Esteve (2009) Source: Family Archive.