About the Lab


Our team (together with Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo) is currently working on the project of developing New Genetic Tools for Marine Protists funded by the Betty and Gordon Moore foundation (see Projects and Research section). We are currently working with Corallochytrium limacisporumand the Icthyosporeans, Abeoforma whisleri and Creolimax Fragantisima, unicellular relatives of animals.  Once we will be able to genetically manipulate these organisms, we will be able to address important biological questions such as  understanding the origin of regulatory elements and the contribution of TEs to genome regulation in unicellular eukaryotes.

The origin of animal complexity

In order to understand which have been the steps in evolution that have resulted in the highly sophisticated genome complexity of multicellular animals, it is important to study their closest unicellular relatives. Most studies to date on genome organization have focused in metazoans or yeast (Holomycota), leaving the unicellular opisthokonts (i.e., unicellular lineages closely related to animals and fungi) behind. Recently, molecular studies on the regulatory landscape of a close unicellular relative of animals,Capsaspora owczarzaki (Filasterea), unveiled the presence of a rich repertoire of metazoan-like TFs together with dynamic cis-regulatory elements and chromatin states associated with life cycle transitions in this organism(Sebe-Pedros et al., 2016). However, there is no informationon the regulatory elements, and genome organization of other unicellular relatives to animals, such as Ichthyosporea, Corallochytria, and Choanoflagellata. The unicellular relatives of animals fit in this intermediate evolutionary scale but still retain less complex genomes, being therefore ideal for investigating the origin of animal complexity.

Join Us, CONTACT: elena.casacuberta@ibe.upf-csic.es

Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo, ICREA Researcher, PI MultiCellGenome Lab (inaki.ruiz@ibe.upf-csic.es)

Aleksandra Kozyczkowska, PhD student Universitat Pompeu Fabra (aleksandra.kozyczkowska@upf.edu)

Sebastian Najle, Postdoctoral Researcher (sebastian.najle@upf.edu)

Daniel Caravaca, Master student in Biotechnology, Universitat de Barcelona

Aleix Antón Tudela, Master student in Genetics and Genomics, Universitat de Barcelona

Past teams (last three years)
Team working on Screening marine microeukaryotes for their amenability for genetic tool development (2015-2016)

Maria Rubio, Technician

Cristina Aresté, Postdoctoral Researcher

 Team working on the origin of metamorphosis: molecular and evolutionary analysis of the genes of the metamorphic “toolkit” (2015-2017)

Sílvia Chafino Aixa, PhD student, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Adrià Chorro, Master student in Genetics and Genomics Universitat de Barcelona

Nicola di Stasi, Master student in Biomedical Research, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Josefa Cruz, Postdoctoral Researcher

Xavier Franch-Marro, PI

David Martin, PI