The overarching goal of the lab is to understand how animals reshape their genomes to generate their vast diversity and to adapt to the different environments.
For that, we generate and interrogate genomic data through the lens of phylogenomics.
Our favourite creatures are arthropods and annelids, but our interest often transcend the level of phylum to understand animal genome evolution at a macroevolutionary scale.
(1) Phylogenomics sensu species tree reconstruction: how are animals related to each other?
Comparative genomic studies must be anchored in a phylogenetic tree. Yet many key aspects in the evolutionary relationships within and between animal groups remain elusive. Resolving the Tree of Life has been prioritized as one of the 125 most important unsolved scientific questions by Science, and the advent of phylogenomics has aided in resolving many contentious aspects in animal phylogeny. It is precisely this topic that became a central theme in my research during the past years, mostly during my first postdoc at the Giribet Lab (Harvard University)(2012-2016). I established a successful line of research with several publications on arthropod and annelid phylogenomics. The timeliness of these projects is reflected not only by the establishment of new evolutionary hypotheses (e.g., proposing the convergence of orb webs in spiders or resolving the branching pattern of the four myriapod classes – one of the main unresolved questions in arthropod phylogenetics), but also because of the complex analytical depth of the studies.
In the lab, we will continue examining how phylogenomic inference can be improved by considering the effects of orthology inference, hidden paralogy and gene duplication.
(2) Phylogenomics sensu gene repertoire evolution: how old are animal genes, how did they originate and how did they change to adapt to new environments?
Because all genomes are evolutionarily related, closely or distantly, the key to making sense of them lies in comparative genomics. By identifying the conserved or divergent aspects among genomes and transcriptomes, one can hope to elucidate the genes that are associated with essential housekeeping functions, or with innovation or adaptation. By using a phylogenomic spyglass, we can infer the evolutionary dynamics of animal genes and build an atlas of gene repertoire evolution to understand how (by speciation or duplication), when (in which node) and how often (how many copies) each gene in each genome was gained, duplicated or lost. I started this line of research during my second postdoc at the Gabaldón Lab (Center for Genomic Regulation and Barcelona Supercomputing Center)(2017- mid 2019).
In the lab, we will explore how the gene repertoire evolved in certain animal lineages to adapt to new environments, such as in the case of terrestrialization events or life in caves. We´re particularly interested in understanding how gene duplication reshapes animal genomes, and interrogating its role as the potential driver of convergent evolution.
We just started our adventure as a lab. Funded projects will be listed here. Stay tuned!!