Dr. Reyes-Prieto is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New Brunswick. He has also worked as a research associate in the Botany Department, Institute for Biology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City and a Protist and Phycology Teaching Professor, at the University's Sciences School. He also received his B.S. degree and PhD from the University.
Dr. Reyes-Prieto is interested to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the establishment of endosymbiotic associations. The research work of Dr. Ryes has been focused on the origin and evolution of photosynthetic organelles in microbial eukaryotes. In recent years comparative genomic studies form different photosynthetic eukaryotes and their non-photosynthetic relatives have generated insights to understand critical processes involved in the transformation of free-living cells into obligated endsymbionts, such as gene transference, genome reduction mechanisms, and potential cases of multiple and subsequent endosymbioses.
It has been hypothesized that extant algae bearing plastids surrounded by two membranes, and formally named Plantae or Archaeplastida, which includes the Glaucophytes, red algae and Viridiplantae (green algae and land plants), are descended from a unique common ancestor that recruited endosymbiotic cyanobacteria more than a billion years in the past. Testing this hypothesis of common origin of Plantae is essential to elucidate the emergence of the first photosynthetic eukaryotes. One avenue to study this hypothesis is through comparative studies of the genetic and protein repertoires from different Plantae lineages. Green algae and land plants have been thoroughly studied in this respect, but this is not the case for red algae and Glaucophytes.
My research program in the University of New Brunswick investigates genomics and diverse aspects of the evolutionary history of Glaucophytes. Vast cellular, biochemical and genomic data suggest that Glaucophytes represent the earliest diverging Plantae branch. In this context the study of this algal group is important for our understanding of the origin and diversification of photosynthetic organisms.
My research work with Glaucophytes is organized in three interconnected investigation lines:
1. Plastid genomics. We are sequencing plastid genomes of diverse Glaucophyte species and strains with the aim to analyze the gene content, genome architecture and diversity within the group.
2. Comparative transcriptomics. Pools of expressed genes (mRNAs) from selected Glaucophyte strains are in the process to be sequenced with the aim to study the collection of nuclear encoded proteins with plastid functions.
3. Glaucophyte diversity. We are investigating species diversity and relationships between different Glaucophyte species establish the basis for further studies of the ecological diversity of this algal group.
These projects will significantly increase the knowledge about diversity and ecology of Glaucophytes and will allow as well us to evaluate their presumed scarcity in the biosphere. By studying Glaucophyte genomic data, we expect to identify key molecular events underlying the origin of primary plastids. We expect to use comparative genomics and functional studies to infer directionality of the change during the evolution and diversification of Plantae.
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
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