Research outline

Our present main research focuses on the understanding of natural selection and adaptation in humans and in primates through the comparative analysis of genomes. Our purpose is the understanding of complex adaptations by genome wide analyses of the footprints that natural selection has left in the genomes after its action and not only detecting single signals (in one specific gene or genome region) but trying to put selection in a functional molecular framework of molecular pathways.

The different forms of selection (purifying, balancing and positive) are analyzed at two levels: among human populations in order to detect population-specific adaptations, and among primates in order both to recognize species-specific adaptive selection and to measure the relative strength of purifying selection.

The action of selection is measured and understood beyond single lists of genes, and integrated in molecular physiological pathways or networks and the aim is, in a given pathway, to understand the complex basis of adaptation and how networks have been shaped by natural selection. At the end we are trying to uncover rules and laws in the action of selection in its primary source: the molecular action.

As a huge amount of genomic information is being produced for humans, there are ample possibilities of studying differential adaptation among human populations, as different human groups have been adapting in different environments; this is the intra-specific level of analysis of natural selection. Moreover, genomic information is being produced for other species, allowing increasing possibilities of understanding differential adaptation of different species and opening the possibility of asking a key question: which has been the adaptive history of a given species, say humans? This question may allow tackling the intriguing questions of which are the genome bases for our own (or any other) species.

Research sublines