Juan D Beltrán

Graduate Student (D.Phil.)
Juan Beltran

Magdalen College

Group Leader

Professor Andrew Smith.

Research Area

Evolution and ecophysiology of tropical plants.

Research Description

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a photosynthetic pathway characteristic of succulent plants regarded as a very effective water-saving mechanism, as CO2 uptake from the atmosphere is largely restricted to the night. I have been fascinated about CAM evolution and ecological importance in the pineapple family, Bromeliaceae. My current research is focused on the evolution and ecophysiology of CAM in the montane genus Puya, which has a predominantly Andean distribution, extending from Chile and Argentina in the south to Costa Rica and the Guiana Shield in the north. About 20% of the genus are CAM species.The aims of my research are (1) establish the climatic niche of CAM and C3  Puya species; (2) understand the plasticity and variability of CAM in P. alpestris, P. chilensis and P. coerulea complex; (3) investigate the possible molecular adaptations of CAM species of Puya at higher elevations where the CO2 fixation is occurring at very low temperatures.


Beltrán JD, Lasso E, Madriñán S, Virgo A, Winter K. 2013. Juvenile tank-bromeliads lacking tanks: do they engage in CAM photosynthesis? Photosynthetica 51: 55–62.

Yang X, Cushman JC, Borland AM, Edwards EJ, Wullschleger SD, Tuskan GA, Owen NA, Griffiths H, Smith JAC, De Paoli HC, Weston DJ, Cottingham R, Hartwell J, Davis SC, Silvera K, Ming R, Schlauch K, Abraham P, Stewart JR, Guo H, Albion R, Ha J, Lim SD, Wone BWM, Yim WC, Garcia T, Mayer JA, Petereit J, Nair SS, Casey E, Hettich RL, Ceusters J, Ranjan P, Palla KP, Yin H, Reyes-García C, Andrade JL, Freschi L, Beltrán JD, Dever LV, Boxall SF, Waller J, Davies J, Bupphada P, Kadu N, Winter K, Sage RF, Aguilar CN, Schmutz J, Jenkins J, Holtum JAM. 2015. A roadmap for research on crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to enhance sustainable food and bioenergy production in a hotter, drier world.New Phytologist 207:491–504.