PIDr María Celina Zabaloy
Adjunct Researcher, CONICET
Adjunct Professor, Agricultural Microbiology,
Department of Agronomy, UNS
Ph.D. in Biology, UNS

The group of Agrosystem Microbial Ecology investigates soil microbial dynamics, mechanisms, structure and diversity taking into account the agricultural management decisions and processes inherent to agricultural and livestock activities in the semi-arid zone of Argentina.

In order to cope with practical and environmentally friendly solutions, new sustainable agricultural practices have emerged which still require scientific evidence in relation to environmental security issues and their effectiveness. Our group works in an attempt to generate this information as well as to select the appropriate biological indicators to evaluate the environmental impact of the above-mentioned practices.

Lines of Research

  • Evaluation of pesticide impact on microbial communities. We are currently working on “Cover crop (CC) chemical desiccation: impact analysis in rhizosphere and edaphic microbial communities”.  CC suppression before crop sowing is in general performed via desiccation with glyphosate, a systemic herbicide whose massive use has become a controversial issue.  We are therefore dedicated to analyze the effects that glyphosate dessication of sensitive plants used as CC exert on rhizosphere and soil, putting particular emphasis on critical functional groups for soil fertility and homeostatic regulation of the crop-related microbial community.
  • Biotransformation of agricultural waste and effluents from intensive farming, such as horticulture and dairy, via anaerobic digestion (DA). DA is a microbial process through which the organic load is not only reduced but also stabilized, thus minimizing the risks of contamination, odor and pathogenic micro-organisms, and permitting to obtain a product with potential economic value (biogas). The effluent from biogas production is a potential soil bio-fertilizer, adding organic matter and nutrients. In order to optimize nutrient amendment recycling, it is necessary to take into account not only agricultural but also environmental criteria. In line with this, our project which is being performed within CERZOS-PUE framework, aims at developing a mechanistic explanation on the biodegradation of digested cattle manure (biomethane effluent gas) through the integration of mineralization, prokaryote communities and crop N extraction to implement an application methodology.

Recent Publications

  • Behnke, G.D., Zabaloy, M.C., Riggins, C.W., Rodríguez-Zas, S., Huang, L. & Villamil, M.B. (2020). Acidicifation in corn monocultures favor fungi, ammonia oxidizing bacteria, and nirK-denitrifier groups. Science of the Total Environment 720.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137514
  • Kim, N., Zabaloy, M.C., Guan, K. & Villamil, M.B. (2020). Do cover crops benefit soil microbiome? A meta-analysis of current research. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107701 
  • Morales, M.E., Allegrini, M., Basualdo, J., Villamil, M.B. & Zabaloy, M.C. (2020). Primer design to assess bacterial degradation of glyphosate and other phosphonates. Journal of Microbial Methods 169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mimet.2019.105814
  • Huang, L., Riggins, C.W., Rodríguez-Zas, S., Zabaloy, M.C. & Villamil, M.B. (2019). Long-term N fertilization imbalances potential N acquisition and transformations by soil microbes. Science of the Total Environment 691, 562-571.
  • Sun, R., Zhang, P., Riggins, C.W., Zabaloy, M.C., Rodríguez-Zas, S. & Villamil, M.B. (2019). Long-term N fertilization decreased diversity and altered the composition of soil bacterial and archaeal communities. Agronomy 9(574), 2-16.
  • Iocoli, G.A., Zabaloy, M.C., Pasdevicelli, G. & Gómez, M.A. (2019). Use of biogas digestates obtained by anaerobic digestion and co-digestion as fertilizers: Characterization, soil biological activity and growth dynamic of Lactuca sativa LScience of the Total Environment 647, 11-19.
  • Allegrini, M., Gomez, E.D.V., Smalla, K. & Zabaloy, M.C. (2019). Suppression treatment differentially influences the microbial community and the occurrence of broad host range plasmids in the rhizosphere of the model cover crop Avena sativa LPLoS One 14(10). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223600
  • Iocoli, G., Zabaloy, M.C. & Gómez, M.A. (2018). Use of biogas digestates obtained by anaerobic digestion and co-digestion as fertilizers: characterization, soil biological activity and growth dynamic of Lactuca sativa L. Science of the Total Environment 647, 11-19.
  • Allegrini, M., Gomez, E., & Zabaloy, M.C. (2017). Repeated glyphosate exposure induces shifts in nitrifying communities and metabolism of phenylpropanoids. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 105, 206-215.
  • Zabaloy, M.C., Allegrini, M., Tebbe, D., Schuster, K.& Gomez, E. (2017). Nitrifying bacteria and archaea withstanding glyphosate in fertilized soil microcosms. Applied Soil Ecology 117-118, 88-95.
  • Iocoli, G.A., Pieroni, O.I., Gómez, M.A., Alvarez, M.B. & Galantini, J.A. (2017). Rapid characterisation of agro-industrial effluents for environmental fate by UV–visible and infrared spectroscopy from fractions obtained by centrifugation. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, DOI: 10.1080/03067319.2017.1354993.
  • Zabaloy M.C., Garland, J.L., Allegrini, M. & Gómez, E. (2016). Soil microbial community physiological profiling as related to carbon and nitrogen availability under different land uses. Pedosphere, 26, 216-225.
  • Zabaloy, M.C., Carné, I., Viassolo, R., Gómez, M.A. & Gomez, E.V. (2016). Soil ecotoxicity assessment of glyphosate use under field conditions: microbial activity and community structure of Eubacteria and ammonia oxidizing bacteria. Pest Management Science 72, 684-691.
  • Allegrini, M., Zabaloy, M.C. & Gomez, E. (2015). Ecotoxicological assessment of soil microbial community tolerance to glyphosate. Science of the Total Environment 553, 60-68.
  • Iocoli, G.A. & Gómez, M.A. (2015). Utilización del digerido anaeróbico del purín de cerdo: actividad biológica y desarrollo vegetal. Ciencia del Suelo 33(1), 1-9.


  • Proyecto de Unidades Ejecutoras P-UE 2016: Bioconversión y valorización de residuos agroindustriales del Sudoeste bonaerense. PI: Viviana Echenique, January, 2017-December, 2022.
  • PICT-2015-1556: Desecación química de cultivos de cobertura: análisis de impacto sobre comunidades microbianas rizosféricas y edáficas. PI: Elena del Valle Gomez, January 2017- December 2019.
  • PGI 24/A240: Obtención de indicadores microbianos del impacto ambiental en suelos de región pampeana de prácticas agronómicas consideradas sustentables. PI: María Celina Zabaloy, January 2017–December, 2018.

National and International Collaborations

  • Dr. Elena Gómez, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias Agrarias Rosario, IICAR-CONICET, Argentina
  • Dr. María Bonita Villamil, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, U.S.A.
  • Dr. Graciela Zanini, INQUISUR, UNS-CONICET, Argentina

Group Members

Dr Gastón Alejandro Iocoli
Postdoctoral Fellow, CONICET
Full-time Teaching Assistant, Department of Agronomy, UNS
Ph.D. in Agronomy, UNS

Marianela E. Morales

Agricultural Eng., UNS
Doctoral Fellow, National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology (ANPCyT)
Ph.D. Student, Department of Agronomy, UNS

Ana María Zamponi

Assistant Technician, CONICET
Department of Agronomy, UNS

Marisa Gomez




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