MAIN RESEARCH INTERESTS
I am broadly interested in the genetic and evolutionary bases of flowering. As an undergraduate and during my masters my research focused on the variation of floral morphology and symmetry in non-core eudicots. Specifically, I first assessed the genetic bases responsible for the floral organ identity and floral symmetry in the Asparagales using Cattleya trianae (Orchidaceae) and Hypoxis decumbens (Hypoxidaceae) to compare bilateral with radial flowers. By generating mixed transcriptomes and searching candidate TCP and MYB genes I generated large scale phylogenetic analyses for the two lineages in monocots and was able to identify putative candidate genes controlling bilateral symmetry outside the canonical CYC genes. Then I was able to integrate Aristolochia fimbriata (Aristolochiaceae) into this research, by identifying the main MYB genes in this species. Thus far, none of the MYB genes typically involved in bilateral symmetry seems to contribute to bilateral flower development in Aristolochia.
I am currently a PhD student and my project is focused in the genetic and evolutionary bases of flowering in neotropical orchids, to identify genes controlling the transition from vegetative to reproductive phases. With ca. 25,000 species, orchids are one of the most diverse and ornamental angiosperms, but their vegetative phases can be excessively long. At this point I’m working on the standardization of protocols for the study of emerging model species of tropical orchids and other closely related monocots, using tools like RNA-seq and bioinformatics, gene evolution, expression analyses (ISH, qRT-PCR) and stable transformation (CRISPR-cas9). The long term goal is to be able to induce controlled flowering in commercially demanded neotropical orchids. I am also interested in teaching at the undergraduate level. I have helped developed the syllabus of several botany courses including general botany, plant anatomy and plant developmental biology.
In general, I am interested in understanding genetic mechanisms responsible for the evolution of plant form. Specifically, during my masters I have been researching the morpho-anatomical and genetic basis of shifts in symmetry occurring during the development of Tropaeolaceae flowers, which are quite unique in the Brassicales and contrast sharply to those of the sister group Akaniaceae, due to the formation of a fully developed nectar spur from the receptacle late in ontogeny. So far, I have developed RNAseq reference data in selected species of Tropaeolum from the northern Andes and I am identifying candidate genes for floral symmetry and spur development.
MAIN RESEARCH INTERESTS
I am a Biologist and Master of Science-Biology, professor in the Department of Biology (microbiology area) at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. I am interested in wildlife host-parasite interactions, including parasitic plants and blood parasites — vertebrate hosts; regarding the latter, I research on ecology, taxonomy and genetics diversity. I am currently doing my PhD research on the evolution of genes involved in embryonic patterning and maintenance of primary meristems in the highly reduced endo-holoparasitic plant Pilostyles boyacensis (Apodanthaceae)