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Maria Muñoz-Amatriain

photo of Maria Munoz-Amatriain

Plant Genetics and Breeding

Assistant Professor

C133 Plant Sciences

970-491-3691 office



I received my B.S. in Biology from the University of Salamanca (Spain), and my Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Zaragoza (Spain). My Ph.D. work was conducted in the Department of Genetics and Plant Production at Aula Dei Experimental Station (CSIC) and involved QTL mapping and gene expression studies linked to barley microspore embryogenesis, a process leading to the production of doubled haploids. Subsequently, I joined Dr. Gary Muehlbauer lab at the University of Minnesota as a postdoc, where I participated in a range of fundamental and applied projects with barley as the model system. In 2014, I moved to the University of California Riverside (UCR), where I worked as a Project Scientist in the group of Dr. Timothy Close. It was at UCR where I first became involved in cowpea research, participating in large international projects such as the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate Resilient Cowpea. I joined Colorado State University in February 2019.

Research Interests:

Our lab focuses on the identification of genetic variation that underlies traits of agronomic importance, and the introgression of favorable variants into adapted germplasm through breeding or pre-breeding.   Understanding and exploiting genetic variation often involves the characterization of plant genetic resources as well as the development of genomic resources including reference genomes and transcriptomes. The ultimate goal of our research is to increase sustainability and profitability of cropping systems, and to improve human health.

Current research projects include:

  • Insights into the cowpea pan-genome (co-PI)
  • Evaluation of cowpea germplasm as a fallow replacement in Colorado dryland cropping systems (PI)
  • Enhancing educational outcomes for plant genetic resources conservation and use (co-PI)
  • W-3150: “Breeding common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) for resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, sustainable production, and enhanced nutritional value” (state representative)
  • Improved white mold resistance in dry and snap beans through multi-site screening and pathogen characterization throughout major production areas (cooperator; PI: Dr. Sydney Everhart)
  • Determining changes in urine metabolite profiles following increased consumption of cowpea in women and children from Ghana (collaborator; PI: Dr. Elizabeth Ryan)
  • Genetic basis of barley contributions to beer flavor (collaborator; PI: Dr. Patrick Hayes)
  • The genetics of low-temperature tolerance in barley (collaborator; PI: Dr. Patrick Hayes)



SOCR 330 – Principles of Genetics (Spring Term)

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