Pedro Martínez

Universitat de Barcelona

Life & Medical Sciences

I graduated in Chemistry (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) in 1982 from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where I also obtained my PhD (in 1990). My training was completed in several places, but mainly at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, USA) and at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (Madrid, Spain). Before my ICREA appointment I was Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bergen (Norway). Currently I am an ICREA Research Professor at the Universitat de Barcelona, Departament de Genètica, a position that I hold since the year 2003. The area of my research is the Evolution of Developmental Mechanisms.

Research interests

In our group we are interested in understanding how animals have evolved over time. We assume that the morphological changes have occurred as a consequence of modifications in the use of different genes during development. In this context, the main aim of our research is to study the origin of the bilateral animals, from radial ancestors. We compare the expression of genes in bilateral and radial animals, hoping to find what changes may have occurred when that transition happened (more than 500 million years ago). Recently we have extended the analysis using genome comparisons. We have sequenced the genomes of several basal bilaterian animals (members of the phylum Xenacoelomorpha) and are in the process of analyzing, and comparing, all types of genomic features. They should give us key insights into the mechanisms that underlie the origin and diversification of animals. The origin of  the centralized nervous system is, at present, the major focus of our research efforts.

Selected publications

- Ben Khadra Y, Sugni M, Ferrario C, Bonasoro F, Varela Coelho A, Martinez P, Candia Carnevali MD 2017, 'An integrated view of asteroid regeneration: tissues, cells and molecules', Cell and Tissue Research, 370, 13-28.

- Altenburger A, Martinez P, Budd GE & Holmer LE 2017, 'Gene Expression Patterns in Brachiopod Larvae Refute the “Brachiopod-Fold” Hypothesis', Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 5, 74.

- Martinez P, Perea-Atienza E, Gavilán B, Fernandez C & Sprecher S 2017, 'The study of xenacoelomorph Nervous Systems. Molecular and morphological perspectives', Invertebrate Zoology, 14 (1): 32-44.

- Martinez P, Hartenstein V & Sprecher SG 2017, 'Xenacoelomorpha Nervous Systems', in Oxford Encyclopaedia of Neurosciences, Oxford University Press.

Selected research activities

Invited talks:

“Xenacoelomorph nervous systems: from genomes to morphology”. Department of Biology, University of Vienna. 3 Apr 2017

“Understanding the enigmatic phylum Xenacoelomorpha, from morphology to genomics”. Invitation to talk to the general assembly of the EMBRC network. Banyuls sur Mer (France). 16 May 2017

“The Origin of Centralised Nervous Systems. The case of Xenacoelomorpha”. 4th International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology (ICIM4). 18 Aug 2017

“Understanding the phylum Xenacoelomropha” Swiss Course on "Marine Biology", Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls, France. 7 Sep 2017

Direction of PhD Thesis:

“The nervous system of Xenacoelomorpha: a morphological and genomic perspective”. Elena Perea Atienza. 14 Jul 2017

Courses Given:

Professor of the Master's Course on: "Evolució de la regulació gènica i xarxes reguladores". Facultat Biologia/ Universitat Barcelona

New managing responsabilities:

Board Member of the "International Society of Invertebrate Morphology" (ISIM). 2017- 2020