Throughout the Earth’s history, evolution has developed a great number of different organisms with an incredible variety of forms and sizes. These morphologies are tailored during development by modifying the expression pattern of key genes and by the modulation of hormone activation. The main goal of this lab is, therefore, to understand how changes in gene and hormone regulation affect morphology evolution, particularly in relation to the origin of insect metamorphosis. The Evolution and Developmental Biology lab addresses these questions by comparing the development and metamorphosis of Drosophila melanogasterTribolium castaneum and Thermobia domestica.

Principal Investigator

Xavier Antoni Franch Marro

Franch Marro, Xavier Antoni
CSIC Tenured Scientist
Evolution and Developmental Biology lab

David Alejandro Martin Casacuberta

Martin Casacuberta, David Alejandro
CSIC Tenured Scientist
Evolution and Developmental Biology lab

Current members

Bitarka Bisai

Bisai, Bitarka
Visiting Predoctoral researcher
Evolution and Developmental Biology lab


Postdoctoral Researcher

Cruz Rodriguez, Josefa
Postdoctoral Researcher
Evolution and Developmental Biology

Ongoing projects


Martín D. 2021. Adult specifier E93 takes control of reproductive cyclicity in mosquitoes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America118 (12):1-3. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2102059118

Martín D, Chafino S, Franch-Marro X. 2021. How stage identity is established in insects: the role of the Metamorphic Gene Network. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 43:29–38. DOI: 10.1016/j.cois.2020.10.002

Martin D, Franch-Marro X. 2021. Editorial overview: Development and regulation: from heresy to the molecular understanding of the metamorphic transformation. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 43: iii–v. DOI: 10.1016/j.cois.2021.03.007

Chafino S, Martín D, Franch-Marro X. 2021. Activation of EGFR signaling by Tc-Vein and Tc-Spitz regulates the metamorphic transition in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Scientific Reports, 11(1):18807. DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-98334-9

Cruz J, Martín D, Franch-Marro X. 2020. Egfr Signaling Is a Major Regulator of Ecdysone Biosynthesis in the Drosophila Prothoracic Gland. Current Biology, 30(8):1547-1554. DOI: 10.3390/life10020014

Lin X, De Schutter K, Chafino S, Franch-Marro X, Martín D, Smagghe G. 2019. Target of rapamycin (TOR) determines appendage size during pupa formation of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Journal of Insect Physiology, 117. DOI:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2019.103902

De Miguel C, Cruz J, Martín D, Franch-Marro X. 2019. Dual role of FGF in proliferation and endoreplication of Drosophila tracheal adult progenitor cells. Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, 12(1):32-41. DOI:10.1093/jmcb/mjz055

Chafino S, Ureña E, Casanova J, Casacuberta E, Franch-Marro X, Martín D. 2019. Upregulation of E93 Gene Expression Acts as the Trigger for Metamorphosis Independently of the Threshold Size in the Beetle Tribolium castaneum. Cell Reports, 27(4):1039-1049. DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2019.03.094.

Martínez R, Esteve-Codina A, Herrero-Nogareda L, Ortiz-Villanueva E, Barata C, Tauler R, Raldúa D, Piña B, Navarro-Martín L. 2018. Dose-dependent transcriptomic responses of zebrafish eleutheroembryos to Bisphenol A. Environmental Pollution, 243:988-997. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2018.09.043

Chafino S, López-Escardó D, Benelli G, Kovac H, Casacuberta E, Franch-Marro X, Kathirithamby J, Martín D. 2018. Differential expression of the adult specifier E93 in the strepsipteran Xenos vesparum Rossi suggests a role in female neoteny. Scientific Reports, 8(1):1-11. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32611-y

Campbell K, Lebreton G, Franch-Marro X, Casanova J. 2018. Differential roles of the Drosophila EMT-inducing transcription factors Snail and Serpent in driving primary tumour growth. PLoS Genetics, 14(2):1-17. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1007167

Brito JC Durant SM, Pettorelli N, Newby J, Canney S, Algadafi W, Rabeil T, Crochet A, Pleguezuelos JM, Wacher T, de Smet K, Gonçalves DV, da Silva MJF, Martínez-Freiría F, Abáigar T, Campos JC, Comizzoli P, Fahd S, Fellous A, Garba HHM, Hamidou D, Harouna A, Hatcha MH, Nagy A, Silva TL, Sow AS, Vale CG, Boratyński Z, Rebelo H, Carvalho SB. 2018. Armed conflicts and wildlife decline: Challenges and recommendations for effective conservation policy in the Sahara-Sahel. Conservation Letters, 11(5):1-13. DOI:10.1111/conl.12446

Romero-Rivas C, Corey JD, Garcia X, Thierry G, Martin CD, Costa A. 2017. World knowledge and novel information integration during L2 speech comprehension. Bilingualism, 20(3):576-587. DOI:10.1017/S1366728915000905

Rahman MM, Franch-Marro X, Maestro JL, Martin D, Casali A. 2017. Local Juvenile Hormone activity regulates gut homeostasis and tumor growth in adult Drosophila. Scientific Reports, 7(1):1-9. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-11199-9

Borras-Castells F, Nieva C, Maestro JL, Maestro O, Belles X, Martín D. 2017. Juvenile hormone biosynthesis in adult Blattella germanica requires nuclear receptors Seven-up and FTZ-F1. Scientific Reports, 7:1-15. DOI:10.1038/srep40234

Ureña E, Chafino S, Manjón C, Franch-Marro X, Martín D. 2016. The Occurrence of the Holometabolous Pupal Stage Requires the Interaction between E93, Krüppel-Homolog 1 and Broad-Complex. PLoS Genetics, 12(5):1-24. DOi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006020

Ureña E, Pirone L, Chafino S, Pérez C, Sutherland JD, Lang V, Rodriguez MS, Lopitz-Otsoa F, Blanco FJ, Barrio R, Martín D. 2016. Evolution of SUMO function and chain formation in insects. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33(2):568-584. DOI:10.1093/molbev/msv242

Mansilla A, Martin FA, Martin D, Ferrus A. 2016. Ligand-independent requirements of steroid receptors EcR and USP for cell survival. Cell Death and Differentiation, 23(3):405-416. DOI:10.1038/cdd.2015.108

de Miguel C, Linsler F, Casanova J, Franch-Marro X. 2016. Genetic basis for the evolution of organ morphogenesis: The case of spalt and cut in the development of insect trachea. Development (Cambridge), 143(19):3615-3622. DOI:10.1242/dev.134924

Herboso L, Oliveira MM, Talamillo A, Pérez C, González M, Martín D, Sutherland JD, Shingleton AW, Mirth CK, Barrio R. 2015. Ecdysone promotes growth of imaginal discs through the regulation of Thor in D. melanogaster. Scientific Reports, 5(June):1-14. DOI:10.1038/srep12383

Ureña E, Manjón C, Franch-Marro X, Martín D. 2014. Transcription factor E93 specifies adult metamorphosis in hemimetabolous and holometabolous insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(19):7024-7029. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1401478111

Djabrayan NJV, Cruz J, de Miguel C, Franch-Marro X, Casanova J. 2014. Specification of differentiated adult progenitors via inhibition of endocycle entry in the Drosophila trachea. Cell Reports, 9(3):859-865. DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.09.043

Wendler F, Bota-Rabassedas N, Franch-Marro X. 2013. Cancer becomes wasteful: Emerging roles of exosomes in cell-fate determination. Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, 2(1). DOI:10.3402/jev.v2i0.22390

Boulan L, Martín D, Milán M. 2013. Bantam miRNA promotes systemic growth by connecting insulin signaling and ecdysone production. Current Biology, 23(6):473-478. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2013.01.072

Mané-Padrós D, Borràs-Castells F, Belles X, Martín D. 2012. Nuclear receptor HR4 plays an essential role in the ecdysteroid-triggered gene cascade in the development of the hemimetabolous insect Blattella germanica. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 348(1):322-330. DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2011.09.025

Grillo M, Furriols M, De Miguel C, Franch-Marro X, Casanova J. 2012. Conserved and divergent elements in Torso RTK activation in Drosophila development. Scientific Reports, 2:1-7. DOI:10.1038/srep00762

Casals F, Sikora M, Laayouni H, Montanucci L, Muntasell A, Lazarus R, Calafell F, Awadalla P, Netea MG, Bertranpetit J. 2011. Genetic adaptation of the antibacterial human innate immunity network. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11(1). DOI:10.1186/1471-2148-11-202

Capelli C, Batini C, Ferri G, Destro-Bisol G, Brisighelli F, Luiselli D, Sanchez-Diz P, Rocha J, Jorde L, Brehm A, Montano V, Elwali NE, Spedini G, D'Amato ME, Myres N, Ebbesen P, Comas D. 2011. Early Y chromosome lineages in Africa : the origin and dispersal of Homo sapiens. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 144

Campbell K, Whissell G, Franch-Marro X, Batlle E, Casanova J. 2011. Specific GATA Factors Act as Conserved Inducers of an Endodermal-EMT. Developmental Cell, 21(6):1051-1061. DOI:10.1016/j.devcel.2011.10.005