Principal Investigator: Xavier Bellés Principal Investigator: Xavier Bellés

Research lines Research lines

The historical antecedents

Historically, our goals and interests have been traditionally diverse, trying to embrace a number subjects around the physiology of the insect. In general, research has focused on physiological processes regulated by hormones. Therefore, we have studied the biochemical and regulatory aspects of the hormones themselves (juvenile hormone, ecdysteroids and regulatory peptides), and also the processes dependent on them, like metamorphosis and vitellogenesis (especially in connexion with juvenile hormone and ecdysteroids), molting, oogenesis and chorion formation (in connexion with ecdysteroids) and food intake and growth (in connexion with peptides and proteins). [more].

The present research
The endocrine regulation of insect metamorphosis has been a long term theme of research and training in the Belles group, which started in the late 1970's. We are interested in the regulation of metamorphosis not only from a developmental point of view but also from an evolutionary perspective. As most information has been obtained in holometabolan species (mainly in the fly Drosophila melanogaster and the beetle Tribolium castaneum), we focus our research on the cockroach Blattella germanica, a phylogenetically basal species showing a gradual metamorphosis that might be close to the ancestral hemimetaboly. We aim at elucidating the mechanisms that regulate metamorphosis in B. germanica and then to compare them with those operating in holometabolan species. The idea is to infer the evolutionary history and the molecular mechanisms underlying the transition from hemimetaboly to holometaboly.

Insect metamorphosis is a complex process, and we concentrate on three main subjects:

  • Qualitative metamorphic changes
  • Transcription factors involved
  • Small RNAs
  • Complex networks


Lab website: Bellés Lab

News News

Principal Investigator Principal Investigator

Current members Current members

Publications since 2011 Publications since 2011

Rubio, M.; Maestro, J.L., Piulachs, M.D.; Belles, X. (2018) Conserved association of Argonaute 1 and 2 proteins with miRNA and siRNA pathways throughout insect evolution, from cockroaches to flies. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms. 1861(6):554-560 doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2018.04.001

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 doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0459-1

Lin,Y.;Huang, J.; Liu, Y.; Belles, X.; Lee, H. 2017. Oral delivery of dsRNA lipoplexes to German cockroach protects dsRNA from degradation and induces RNAi response Pest Management Science. 73: 5, 960-966

Korb J.; Belles X. 2017. Juvenile hormone and hemimetabolan. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 22:109-116

Ongoing projects Ongoing projects

In the media In the media

21st March 2018: 

In a Cockroach Genome, ‘Little Mighty’ SecretsNew York Times, with comments of Xavier Bellés, principal investigator at IBE

Querida 'amiga' cucaracha: así nos protege el insecto más odiado, with comments of Dolors Piulachs, principal investigator at IBE

12th January 2018

Per què ens tornem rojos per vergonya?, Mètode, by Xavier Bellés, principal investigator of the IBE

Las mariposas tenían ‘trompa’ antes de que las flores existieran, El País, with comments of Roger Vila, principal investigator of the IBE


On the publication of the book L'expressió de les emocions en l'home i en els animals, by Charles Darwin, translated by Xavier Bellés, principal investigator of the IBE: 30th September 2017, Cadena Ser. Conversation with Xavier Bellés on Charles Darwin.

10th September, 2017. La Vanguardia - Magazine. "En un mundo sin insectos". With comments of Xavier Bellés, Ignacio Ribera and Roger Vila.

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