Research Interests:  

My research interests can be grouped into three main areas all involving molecular evolution, and sometimes overlapping. For example, ciliates are one of the groups of organims that use modified genetic codes.

Below are short summaries of my interests, for more detailed information on each topic click on the icons to the left:

  1. Gene Scrambling in Ciliates
    Ciliate genes undergo an incredible amount of rearrangments when a new Macronucleus is formed. I am interested in determining the mechanisms with which these cells perform such rearrangements and in the evolutionary origins of these mechanisms.
  2. Patterns of Gene Duplications in Whole Genomes
    Gene duplication is supposed to be the main mechanism by which genetic novelties arise. I use full genome sequences to study the pattern of duplications in several organisms (mostly in Caenorhabidtis elegans), in order to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which these events affect genome evolution..
  3. Origin and Evolution of the Genetic Code
    The genetic code determines which amino acid in the proteins corresponds to a determinate codon in the mRNAs. The aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are the enzymes that charge the tRNAs with the correct amino acids, thus they are the molecules responsible to translate the code. My main objective is to try to understand how these enzymes shaped the origin and early evolution of the code. I am also interested in understanding how some organisms use modified codes, and what the evolutionary consequences of such modifications are.