I am a microbial ecologist interested in the symbiotic relationships between hosts (animals) and microbial communities. I am currently a Research Associate at the Center for Genomic Sciences, UNAM.
My research line focuses on analyzing amphibian symbiotic communities (microbiomes) from and ecological and evolutionary perspective. The skin microbiomes in amphibians have a relevant role protecting hosts against emerging diseases, such as chytridiomycosis. This disease is one of the main causes of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide and is caused by the fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamndrivorans (Bsal). Multiple bacterial strains with antifungal capacities have been isolated from the amphibian skin and several studies have shown that these bacteria are able to protect the hosts against Bd and Bsal.
In my lab, we want to understand the biotic and abiotic factors shaping skin microbiomes through the use of next generation sequencing technologies. Also, we want to analyze the protective functions present on symbiotic bacterial strains through the use of genomic and functional in vitro assays. Finally, I am also interested in describing the interactions occurring between microbial communities and their hosts with the aim of understanding the nature of these symbioses and their evolutionary implications.
I studied Biology at the Faculty of Sciences at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) from 2000-2004. My bachelors thesis project consisted on studying chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation in Drosophila melanogaster (Instituto de Biotecnología, UNAM). I did a Masters in Biochemistry developing a project about epigenetic regulation during chicken erythroid differentiation (Instituto de Fisiología Celular, UNAM) from 2005-2007. During my PhD (Instituto de Ecología, UNAM) I studied the evolution and ecology of aquatic bacteria in Cuatro Ciénegas, México from 2007-2012. From 2012-2016 I developed a postdoctoral project with Dr. Reid Harris at James Madison University. This project focused on describing the factors shaping microbial symbiotic communities on tropical frogs and the protective role these symbiotic communities have against Bd.