Ricardo Flores

Ricardo Flores

Institute for Cellular and Molecular Plant Biology, Valencia, Spain; Research Professor of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC)

Flores has worked as a researcher on virology at the CSIC, Valencia, Spain, since 1980. An expert in viroids, the lowest step of the biological scale in terms of genomic size, he favours the proposal (initially posed by T.O. Diener) regarding viroids as excellent candidates for being survivors from the RNA world postulated to have preceded our present world based on DNA and proteins.

Profile continued

Ricardo Flores graduated in Chemistry from the University of Valencia (Spain) and got his PhD also in Chemistry from the same University. He did a post-doc at the University of California, Riverside, and has been at the Research Council of Spain (Institute of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, Valencia, Spain) from 1980 to the present, being appointed Research Professor in 1989. He has published over 140 research papers focused on Virology and, particularly, on viroids.

Principal investigator of projects funded by international and national agencies. Associated editor or member of the editorial board of RNA Biology, Virus Research, Frontiers in Virology, Archives of Virology and Viruses, as well as member of different national and international review panels. Past Vicepresident of the Spanish Society for Virology (and recipient of its biannual prize), and Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Flores’ research interest is focused on viroids, minute non-protein-coding RNAs (250-400 nt) able to replicate autonomously and cause disease in certain plants. The properties that make viroids candidates for being survivors of the RNA world include those expected for primitive RNA replicons: 1) small size imposed by error-prone replication, 2) high G +C content to increase replication fidelity, 3) circular structure for assuring complete replication without genomic tags, 4) structural periodicity for modular assembly into enlarged genomes, 5) lack of protein-coding ability consistent with a ribosome-free habitat, and 6) replication mediated in some of them by ribozymes, the fingerprint of the RNA world. With the advent of DNA and proteins, those protoviroids lost some abilities and became the plant parasites we now know.

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"“Natura numquam magis est tota quam in minimis” (“In no other place is Nature in all its fullness as in its smallest creatures”)"

(Plinio, Roman naturalists, dead victim of his own scientific curiosity while observing Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.C.)

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