Pedro Martínez

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

– Philippe H, Poustka AJ, Chiodin M, Hoff KJ, Dessimoz C, Tomiczek B, Schiffer PH, Müller S, Domman D, Horn M, Kuhl H, Timmermann B, Satoh N, Hikosaka-Katayama T, Nakano H, Rowe ML, Elphick MR, Thomas-Chollier M, Hankeln T, Mertes F, Wallberg A, Copley RR, Martinez P & Telford MJ 2019, ‘Mitigating anticipated effects of systematic errors supports sister-group relationship between Xenacoelomorpha and Ambulacraria’, Current Biology, 29, 1818–1826.

– Hartenstein V & Martinez P 2019, ‘Structure, development and evolution of the digestive system‘, Cell Tissue Res 377: 289.

– Hartenstein V & Martinez P 2019, ‘Phagocytosis in cellular defense and nutrition: a food-centered approach to the evolution of macrophages‘, Cell Tissue Res, 377: 527.

– Jondelius U, Raikova OI & Martinez P 2019, ‘Xenacoelomorpha, a Key Group to Understand Bilaterian Evolution: Morphological and Molecular Perspectives’. In: Pontarotti P. (eds) Evolution, Origin of Life, Concepts and Methods. Springer, Cham.

– Arnone MI, Oliveri P & Martinez P 2019, ‘A conceptual history of the “regulatory genome”: From Theodor Boveri to Eric Davidson’, Marine Genomics. 44, 24-31.

– Gavilán B, Sprecher SG, Hartenstein V & Martinez P 2019 ‘The digestive system of xenacoelomorphs‘, Cell Tissue Res, 377: 369.

Selected research activities

Member of the COST Action (spanish representative) CA16203, “MARISTEM”

Board Member International Society of Invertebrate Biology (ISIM)