Research Background

Since my PhD, I have been conducting transdisciplinary research combining population genetics and evolution of microbial pathogens integrated with molecular epidemiology. During my PhD I studied population genetics of Legionella pneumophila at the University of Valencia under the supervision of Professor Fernando González Candelas. One of the key aspects I studied was to characterize bacterial population structure and the impact of horizontal gene transfer in L. pneumophila populations were I concluded that non-vertical inheritance has a very prominent role in shaping the composition of the L. pneumophila genome. We found that phylogenetic proximity and sharing the same ecological niche (the amoeba host) have likely had a major influence on the rate of gene exchange in Legionella. The other key aspect of my thesis was molecular epidemiology of legionellosis outbreaks. I further developed this research niche when moving to tuberculosis (TB) for my postdoc, increasingly addressing evolutionary and ecological questions. I have co-authored articles which have considerably advanced in the knowledge of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) genomic diversity, origin and evolution where one of the main findings was the first MTBC strain isolated from a wild chimpanzee reported and showing that the general view of the genetic diversity of MTBC was limited at that time. We also have demonstrated that MTBC caused human disease before European contact in America and it was caused by the ecotype M. microttii. Other of my main research lines have been combining genomics and immunology, including my recent article in which we demonstrated for the first time the role of genetic diversity in tuberculosis immunogenicity. We revealed two sets of antigens with opposing evolutionary processes might have an important impact on TB vaccine design. In addition, I have collaborated in other lines of research, always related with microbial pathogens, such a Hepatitis C genetic virus genetic analyses and metagenomics of the skin. Currently I am a group leader of the PathoGenOmics group at the program of pathogen system biology at the (I²SysBio). I am also involved in teaching for the Bachelor of Biology at theUniversity of Valencia and for the Master of Bioinformatics

Author Identifier

ResearchID: L-5893-2017
ORCID: 0000-0003-0752-0538
SCOPUS: 14015024400