Functional Genomics and Evolution

and Evolution

of Insect
Metamorphosis lab


Xavier Bellés CSIC Research Professor

Xavier Bellés - CSIC Research Professor
Evolution of Insect Metamorphosis lab Team
Evolution of Insect Metamorphosis lab

MEMBERS OF THE GROUP (Active in 2018)

Predoctoral Researchers Orathai Kamsoi, Alba Ventós

Research Technician José Carlos Montañés

Laboratory Technician Viviana Pagone


Co-leadership of an international consortium to sequence the genome of a cockroach (Blattella germanica) and a termite (Cryptotermes secundus). The comparative analysis gave key information about the evolution of insect eusociality. In addition, we compared 11 transcriptomes from B. germanica and Drosophila melanogaster, which revealed regularities in the evolution of modern insects. The proteins Argonaute 1 and Argonaute 2 are associated to the microRNA and RNAi pathways in D. melanogaster. Our studies have shown that this is also the case in the more primitive species B. germanica.


Harrison, M.C., Jongepier, E., Robertson, H.M., Arning, N., Bitard-Feildel, T., Chao, H., Childers, C.P., Dinh, H., Doddapaneni, H., Dugan, S., Gowin, J., Greiner, C., Han, Y., Hu, H., Hughes, D.S.T., Huylmans, A.K., Kemena, C., Kremer, L.P.M., Lee, S,L,, Lopez-Ezquerra, A., Mallet, L., Monroy-Kuhn, J.M., Moser, A., Murali, S.C., Muzny, D.M., Otani, S., Piulachs, M.D., Poelchau, M., Qu, J., Schaub, F., Wada-Katsumata, A., Worley, K.C., Xie, Q., Ylla, G., Poulsen, M., Gibbs, R.A., Schal, C., Richards, S., Belles, X*., Korb, J*., Bornberg-Bauer. E*. 2018. Hemimetabolous genomes reveal molecular basis of termite eusociality. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2(3): 557-566. * Co-corresponding authors.

Ylla, G., Piulachs, M.-D., Belles, X. 2018. Comparative transcriptomics in two extreme neopterans reveal general trends in the evolution of modern insects. iScience 4: 164–179.

Rubio M, Maestro JL, Piulachs MD, Belles X. 2018. Conserved association of Argonaute 1 and 2 proteins with miRNA and siRNA pathways throughout insect evolution, from cockroaches to flies. BBA-Gene Regulatory Mechanisms 1861(6): 554-560.


Title: Key transitions in the embryogenesis of a hemimetabolan insect. Juvenile Hormone, transcription factors and microRNAs.
Funded by: MINECO (Ministry of Science, Spain).
Reference: BCGL2015-64727-P.
PI: Xavier Bellés
Date: 2016-2019

Title: Functional Genomics and Evolution (Ajuts de suport a la recerca de Catalunya, SGR).
Funded by: Generalitat de Catalunya, General Direction of Research, AGAUR. Catalan Government
Reference: 2017-SGR 1030
PI: Xavier Bellés (Grant)
Date: 2017-2018

Title: Modifying plants to produce interfering RNA.
Funded by: EU, COST Action 2015. 2016-2019. PIs: 48 PIs from 24 COST countries (Bruno Mezzetti: General Coordinator; Xavier Belles: Delegate for the Management Committee).

Title: JSPS Bilateral Joint Research Pro.
Funded by: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
PI: Takaaki Daimon (Japan), Xavier Belles (Spain).
Date: 2017-2019


Gene expression during the ontogeny of two extreme neopterans, the cockroach Blattella germanica (polyneopteran, hemimetabolan and short germ-band species), and the fly Drosophila melanogaster (endopterygote, holometabolan and long germ-band species). Genes associated with metamorphosis are predominantly expressed in late nymphal stages in B. germanica and in early-mid embryo in D. melanogaster. In B. germanica the maternal to zygotic transition (MZT) concentrates early in embryogenesis, when juvenile hormone factors are significantly expressed. In D. melanogaster, the MZT extends throughout embryogenesis, during which juvenile hormone factors appear unimportant. These differences may reflect broad trends in the evolution of development within neopterans, related to the germ-band type and the metamorphosis mode.