Research

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.

Projects

ERC Starting Grant

SEA2LAND

Land animal evolution: genomic landmarks on the path to terrestrial life (grant agreement 948281)(PI: Rosa Fernández)

To conquer land from marine environments, animals changed radically the way they breath, reproduce, move or smell. And they did it multiple times in the history of Earth, with terrestrial animals massively outnumbering aquatic ones. Understanding terrestrialization is therefore key to comprehending animal biodiversity and biological adaptation. Despite the relevance of such an episode, the genetic underpinnings orchestrating terrestrialization in animals are largely unexplored. The project will test the hypothesis that animals are equipped with a highly plastic ‘terrestrialization genetic toolkit’ that allowed their adaptation to the extreme environmental conditions in terrestrial ecosystems. This adventure involves genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and protein engineering. Do you want to join? We are hiring!

ARTHROLAND: Unraveling the evolution of terrestrial arthropods through phylogenomics (PID2019-108824GA-I00)(PI: Rosa Fernández)

Arthropods conquered land multiple times in the history of Earth, with terrestrial arthropods massively outnumbering aquatic ones. But to understand how they did it, we first need to elucidate how they are related to each other. This project aims at shedding light into the phylogeny of arthropods through genomics and transcriptomics with emphasis on lineages with both marine and terrestrial taxa, as well as to provide a state-of-the-art molecular dating for the Arthropoda Tree of Life.

The giant under our feet: genome sequencing of the Catalan endemic giant earthworm Norana najaformis

Norana najaformis an endemic earthworm of the Mediterranean family Hormogastridae, with very limited distribution and often closely associated with vineyards. This species excavates huge galleries that help drain the soil, increase aeration, mixes soil layers mobilizing nutrients, and facilitates growth of plant roots. In addition, this species enters aestivation during the hottest months of the year. Thus, unraveling its genome could shed light on genomic preadaptation to xeric and dry environments, definitely favoured by climate change. We are sequencing a high quality genome of this species under the umbrella of the Catalan Biogenome Project, in collaboration with Jean-François Flot and Nadège Guiglielmoni from Université Libre de Bruxelles, Marta Novo and Darío Díaz Cosín from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Daniel Fernández-Marchán from University of Vigo.

(Note: Daniel, Darío, Marta and Rosa described the genus Norana a few years ago).

Genome evolution of cave invertebrates

We are interested in understanding how cave animals have reshaped their gene repertoires to adapt to their peculiar subterranean environments. So far, we are exploring how cave arthropods from different lineages have adapted to life in caves to illuminate the genomic basis of convergent evolution in this group of animals.

Interested in what we do?

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