Degree in Biological Sciences from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (1975). Doctor of Philosophy (Bacteriology) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) in 1981, under the direction of Thomas D. Brock. Postdoctoral post (in the group of Ricardo Guerrero) and assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology and Genetics of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona between 1981 and 1989. Scientific collaborator (1989-1992), researcher (1993-1999) and research professor of research (2000-2015) at the Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC, in Barcelona. Visiting scientist at the Universities of Minnesota (1990), Indiana (1989) and Georgia (1987), USA. Since 2016, research professor at the National Center for Biotechnology, CSIC, in Madrid.
His scientific interest lies in understanding the ecology of aquatic microorganisms. He has carried out oceanographic cruises in the two polar zones, in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic. He has also worked in extreme environments such as salares in Atacama, or thermal springs along the Andes. The current strategy is to take advantage of the information provided by genomics, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to explore the ecology of marine microorganisms using Bacteroidetes as a model group. Another line of research seeks to explore microbial diversity, particularly the mechanisms that maintain a large number of rare species. Other interests include biology of spirituality, the relationship between art and science, and outreach. He has published more than 200 scientific papers (H = 58) and several popular books. He is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology and a recipient of the Ciutat de Barcelona Prize for scientific research. In the past he has been a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research-Spain, the International Census of Marine Microbes and representative of Spain in the European Polar Board.