Juan C. Moreno

Research Scientists

Research Scientist



Research Interests

Carotenoids are important isoprenoids produced in the plastids of photosynthetic organisms that play key roles in photosynthesis, photoprotection, pollination, and antioxidative processes. In addition, they are precursors of plant hormones and apocarotenoids. Apocarotenoids are small molecules with regulatory functions, including cellular signaling, growth regulation, and communication with surrounding organisms. Due to these functions, apocarotenoids can influence plant physiology, development, and plant-plant/plant-microorganism’s interactions, making them a major focus of study in agriculture and fundamental research. I am moving towards the discovery of receptors and protein partners of growth-promoting apocarotenoids. In addition, I am also interested in the study and the use of carotenoid genetic engineering (GMO and non-GMO strategies) to manipulate the plant hormonal network in order to control plant growth and development.

Selected Publications

  • Juan C. Moreno*, Silvia Martinez-Jaime, Monika Kosmacz, Ewelina M. Sokolowska, Philipp Schulz, Axel Fischer, Urszula Luzarowska, Michel Havaux, and Aleksandra Skirycz* (2021). “A multi-OMICs approach sheds light on the higher yield phenotype and enhanced abiotic stress tolerance in tobacco lines expressing the carrot lycopene β-cyclase1 gene”. Frontiers in Plant Science 12:624365.
  • Stella Kössler, Tegan Armarego-Marriott, Danuše Tarkowská, Veronika Turečková, Shreya Agrawal, Leonardo Perez da Sousa, Mark Aurel Schöttler, Anne Schadach, Anja Fröhlich, Ralph Bock, Stephanie Ruf, Arun Sampathkumar, and Juan C. Moreno* (2021). Lycopene β-cyclase expression influences plant physiology, development, and metabolism in tobacco plants. Journal of Experimental Botany, https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erab029.
  • Juan C. Moreno, Jianing Mi, Yagiz Alagoz and Salim Al-Babili (2020). Plant Apocarotenoids: From Retrograde Signaling to Interspecific Communication. The Plant Journal doi.org/10.1111/tpj.15102.
  • Juan C. Moreno*, Jianing Mi, Shreya Agrawal, Stella Koessler, Veronika Turečková, Dana Tarkowska, Wolfram Thiele, Salim Al-Babili, Ralph Bock and Mark Aurel Schoettler (2020). “Expression of a carotenogenic gene allows bigger plant yield by redesigning plant architecture and improving photosynthetic efficiency in tobacco”. The Plant Journal 103:1967-1984.
  • Juan C. Moreno, Silvia Martínez-Jaime, Joram Schwartzmann, Daniel Karcher, Michael Tillich, Alexander Graf, and Ralph Bock (2018). “Temporal Proteomics of Inducible RNAi Lines of Clp Protease Subunits Identifies Putative Protease Substrates”. Plant Physiology 176: 1485-1508.

* Corresponding author.


  • PhD. Molecular Plant Physiology. Chloroplast Biology and Biotechnology lab, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany. (2016)
  • M.Sc. Molecular and Cellular Biology and Neuroscience/main topic Plant Molecular Biology. Molecular Plant Biology lab, Universidad de Chile, Chile. (2012)
  • B.Sc. Molecular Biotechnology Engineering. Molecular Plant Biology lab, Universidad de Chile, Chile. (2010)

Professional Profile

  • Jan. 2021- present: Research scientist, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
  • Oct.2016-Nov. 2020: Postdoctoral fellow. Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Potsdam, Germany.

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • The International Carotenoid Society (ICS)


  • 2020. Cover page (from Moreno et al., 2020) of the issue 103:6 of The Plant Journal.
  • 2020. Article selected (Moreno et al., 2020; doi: 10.1111/tpj.14909) for a Research Highlight: “The colour of crop improvement”. The Plant Journal doi: 10.1111/tpj.14971.
  • 2019. Best poster award, Gordon Research Conference on Chloroplast Biotechnology Ventura, USA.
  • 2018. PROMIS, global analysis of PROtein-Metabolite Interactions using Size separation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Biological Chemistry 293 (32): 12440-12453. Paper of the year in JBC 2018 in the topic “Methods and resources”.
  • 2012-2016. Association to the IMPRS PhD program in the Max Planck Institute.
  • 2012-2016. DAAD scholarship for PhD studies in Germany.
  • 2011-2012. CONICYT scholarship for Master studies in Chile. Excellence grant given by CONICYT, Chilean government.
  • 2011. American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) travel grant for ASPB meeting in Minneapolis, USA.
  • 2010. ASPB travel grant for ASPB meeting in Montreal, Canada.
  • 2010. Latin-American Association of Botany (ALB) travel grant, La Serena, Chile.

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Salim Al-Babili's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture

BESE - Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Research Interests Keywords

Carotenoids Apocarotenoids Plant hormones Photosynthesis Receptors Signaling Molecules Beta carotene Biomass Yield