Born in Madrid (1963), María-Esperanza Sánchez is a Senior Lecturer in Forest Pathology at the Technical School of Agriculture and Forest Engineering (ETSIAM) belonging to the University of Córdoba (Spain) since 2008. María-Esperanza got her PhD in the Autónoma University of Madrid (1990), and pursued post-doctoral studies in the Forestry Department at National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA, Madrid, Spain, 1991-1992), Forestry Department at the University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen, UK, 1993), Pathology Branch at the Forest Research Agency (Farnham, UK, 1993-1994), Agriculture Technical School at the University of Algarve (Portugal) (Faro, 1994 and 2005), and Forestry Department at the University of Florence (Firenze, Italy, 2005). She joined the Agronomy Department of the Technical School of Agriculture and Forest Engineering at University of Córdoba in 1995, where she teaches Plant Pathology, Forest Pathology and Crop Protection at the undergraduate level and Taxonomy and Identification of Phytopathogenic Fungi and Oomycetes at the postgraduate level.
Since 1993, María-Esperanza has been working on diseases associated with Mediterranean oak decline, the most important problem affecting forest ecosystems in Spain. Her research includes aetiological and epidemiological features of root diseases caused by oomycetes (Phytophthora cinnamomi and Pythium spiculum) and trunk and branch cankering caused by Biscogniauxia mediterranea (charcoal canker) and Botryosphaeraceae fungi. These insights make her possible to address the study of control methods focused on integrated control strategies applicable to open woodlands (dehesas) and oak forests. Derived from her research work, different control strategies against oak root diseases are currently available: soil calcium amendments, biofumigation, or application of resistance inducers, as well as environmental friendly treatments for preventive control of Botryosphaeria trunk cankers.
She has also been active in health preservation of highly valuable forest ecosystems, such as the Andalusian fir (Abies pinsapo) forest, a relictic forest threatened by Heterobasidion root rot, or wild-olive (Olea europaea var. sylvestris) natural forests, endangered by different Phytophthora species. She is currently leading a project to study diseases incidence in heronry-cork oak woodlands at Doñana National Park. The main objective of this research program, in close collaboration with the Spanish Research Council (EBD and IRNAS), is to monitor the spread of oomycete root diseases already detected in this highly protected Park, declared as natural heritage of the humanity, in order to recommend effective control measures. María-Esperanza scientific output is represented by over 50 papers in WoS indexed journals, besides Phytopathology, broader areas of Biology (Mycology, Ecology, Plant Sciences), twelve PhD and MSc theses, or many degree research projects.
María-Esperanza Sánchez joined the IOBC-WPRS Work Group “Integrated Protection in Oaks Forests” in 2010 and she organized the 8th meeting of the group in Spain (Córdoba, 23-27 October 2016).