PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AT INBIOTECA-UNIVERSIDAD VERACRUZANA MEXICO
Mario is Leader of the Group of Epigenetics and Developmental Biology in the Institute for Biotechnology and Applied Ecology at the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico. He earned his Bacherlor's degree in biology from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and dis his thesis research under Dr. Luis Herrera-Estrella. Right after college he enrolled in a PhD program and his PhD thesis advisor was Dr. Jean Philippe Vielle-Calzada. Mario trained during four years as a posdoctoral research associate with Dr. Vicki Chandler at the BIO5 Insitute of the Universitiy of Arizona working with paramutation in maize.
Paramutation is the most amazing and extreme example of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Paramutation is an interaction between alleles (or homologous sequences) that leads to mitotically and meiotically heritable change of gene expression in one of the alleles. Paramutation was discovered in maize in the 1950's and numerous examples of paramutation and paramutation-like phenomena have emerged over the decades in other plant and animal species. Paramutation in plants is mediated by small RNAs and components of the major small RNA-dependent epigenetic pathway known as the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway. Mario is interested in studying the molecular basis, biological role and widespread influence of epigenetics and small RNA-mediated gene regulation in multicellular eukaryotes, from an evolutionary developmental perspective. Research in Mario's lab focuses on trying to address three main questions: i) when and where is paramutation established? (in other words, what is the timing of paramutation?), ii) what is the role of genes involved in paramutation during normal development?, iii) how old and widespread is paramutation in other eukaryotes?. In recent years, he started an exciting journey to study epigenetics and RNA-directed gene regulation in Marchantia polymorpha, a liverwort that represents one of the earliest diverging land plant lineages.