Alex de Mendoza studied Biology at the University of Barcelona in Spain, where he did his PhD working on the evolution of animal multicellularity in the laboratory of Prof. Iñaki Ruiz Trillo. On 2014, Alex moved to The University of Western Australia in Perth, to work on evolutionary epigenomics in the laboratory of Prof. Ryan Lister. In 2020, Alex joined the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, where he is working in molecular evolutionary biology and comparative epigenomics.
Find out more about Alex's group and research at: https://www.demendozalab.com/
Functional Genomics & Epigenetics
The genomes of eukaryotic species are not a simple book of instructions on how to make an organism. Apart from genes, most eukaryotic genomes are filled with parasitic elements, known as Transposable Elements. These are selfish genetic elements that can copy themselves into the host genome, which might expand and invade large parts of the genome. For instance, the human genome is ~45% made of transposable elements. Therefore, for the host genome it is critical to control transposable element expansion. A way eukaryotic cells achieve this is by using a group of proteins and DNA modifications (known as the epigenome) that silence transposable elements, while allowing transcription of essential genes. In de Mendoza laboratory we want to understand how the evolution of these gene regulatory mechanisms impacts organismal complexity. Particularly, we are interested in understanding the co-evolution between transposable elements and host epigenomes. We are fascinated by how transposable elements acquire host-genes, and how this can lead to large genomic changes. In parallel, we study the evolution of gene regulatory systems, such as DNA methylation and Transcription Factors. Our goal is to challenge and complement current knowledge on epigenomics by studying a broad diversity of eukaryotic lineages. We approach these topics using a combination of comparative epigenomics, bioinformatics and molecular biology.
Examples of research funding:
ERC Starting Grant - METHYLEVOL