Evolutionary Genomics

Research group

Group Leader

Maria del Mar Albà Soler (ICREA Professor)

The Evolutionary Genomics group, led by Mar Albà, uses comparative genomics and large-scale data analysis to understand the complexity of gene regulation and evolutionary innovation. The group develops bioinformatics methods to predict functional elements in the genome and measure the influence of natural selection in shaping gene evolution. One of the most active research lines of the group is the investigation of the mechanisms of formation of new genes in genomes. We are using high-throughput RNA sequencing to obtain complete maps of the transcriptome, and ribosome profiling techniques to characterize the translated open reading frames. Using these techniques we have identified hundreds of putative new genes in the mouse, humans and yeast. Many of them encode small proteins which are not yet annotated. We have also used deep RNA sequencing and computational methods for transcript assembly and differential gene expression analysis to understand the molecular changes that take place during hibernation in lemurs. The work has improved our understanding of the molecular mechanisms associated with the induction of torpor in primates, which may lead to future applications in human medicine.




Jorge Ruiz Orera (Researcher)

William Robert Blevins (PhD Student)

Main Publications

• Albà MM. Zinc-finger domains in metazoans: evolution gone wild. Genome Biol 2017; 18: 168. IF 11.908. D1.

• Domazet-Loso T, Carvunis AR, Albà MM, Sestak MS, Bakaric R, Neme R, Tautz D. No evidence for phylostratigraphic bias impacting inferences on patterns of gene emergence and evolution. Mol Biol Evol 2017; 34(4): 843-856. IF 6.202. D1.

• Villanueva-Cañas JL, Ruiz-Orera J, Agea MI, Gallo M, Andreu D, Albà MM. New genes and functional innovation in mammals. Genome Biol Evol 2017; 9: 1886-1900. IF 3.979. Q2.

Ongoing Research Projects

• Mecanismos de formación de genes nuevos

- Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (BFU2015-65235-P)

- From 2016 to 2018

- Principal investigator: Albà Soler, Maria del Mar



• Ruiz-Orera J. Understanding the mechanisms of de novo gene evolution using transcriptomics data. Pompeu Fabra University

- Director: Albà Soler, Maria del Mar

- Date of defense: 19/01/2017



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