I graduated in Biology at the University of Valencia. During the customary 5 years of undergraduate studies, I became exposed to a wide variety of fascinating topics. I was also fortunate to work as a student in different labs, especially at the Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology. Among other projects, I got exposed to bioinformatics tools by joining the International Aphid Genomics Consortium for the annotation of the pea aphid genome.
Thanks to these experiences, during my undergraduate studies I became awestruck by the wonders of evolutionary biology. Specifically, I got deeply interested in two fields that would mark the rest of my scientific career until today: symbiosis research and the study of the major transitions in evolution.
The first one dictated the studies I performed during my PhD at Uppsala University under Siv Andersson’s supervision, which I started in 2011. My thesis focused on the genomic characterization of bacterial symbionts of honeybees and ants. Each one of these projects branched out into more general molecular evolution studies, which generated in me a strong acquired taste on the processes that dictate genome evolution.
As a side benefit of my research adventure in Uppsala, I witnessed the rise of a scientific endeavour that appealed my interest on major evolutionary transitions. Not long after I started my PhD studies, I was introduced to Thijs Ettema’s approach to the study of eukaryogenesis, with which he applied for an ERC grant. Consequently, the lab expanded, and found more and more data about Asgard archaea and many other exciting lineages. This fascinating research, plus the incredible group of people that constituted the lab, convinced me that it would be a perfect place for a Postdoc.
Research projects and interests
Currently I am involved in projects dealing with the prokaryotic ancestry of genomes of eukaryotic lineages. By utilizing metagenomic data from newly discovered bacterial and archaeal groups, we are able to perform exploratory evolutionary analyses and test specific hypothesis regarding the origins of various systems. Characterizing new, deep branches in the tree of life, ultimately will lead us to improve our understanding of the evolutionary processes that governed profound biological changes. In short: what does the tree of life really look like, and how did it grow that way?
My research is framed within the Wellcome Trust consortium on the archaeal origins of eukaryotic cell organization (http://evocyt.com/), which includes a diverse group of researchers studying the evolution of eukaryotic machinery from different points of view – e.g. how do specific cellular systems work in different lineages, and how did that affect the origin of the eukaryotic cell plan? Exciting new data generating exciting new mechanistic and evolutionary models!