Associated members


My research interests

I’m very interested in Marine Ecology, Molecular Biology and Systematics, Population and Evolutionary Genetics, Conservation, Phylogeography, and Phylogenomics. I have worked in coral reef ecology, coral recruitment patterns, juvenile coral identification, and deep-sea octocoral taxonomy and systematics.

My projects

I have been working with Bamboo corals from New Zealand and Antarctica since 2006. Particularly on Isidids from the Keratoisidinae and Mopseinae subfamilies, focusing on molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of this group. My other interests in bamboo corals include character evolution, description of new taxa, and phylogeography of big Keratoisidids.

Currently, for my Ph.D., I’m working with phylogeography, diversification and population genetics/genomics of deep-sea octocorals from sub-Antarctic and Antarctic areas, around New Zealand, Tasmania and the Ross Sea. For the population genetics/genomics aspect I’m using Tokoprymno maia and Hemicorallium spp. as models groups, revising their taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships at the same time.

You can find me as: lf.duenas161 at / luisadue at



My research interests

I’m interested in Evolutionary genomics and in the application of Bioinformatics and next generation sequencing (NGS) tools to answer different questions related to basal metazoans as the Octocorals.

My projects

I focused my graduate studies in one of the most amazing and at the same time neglected marine ecosystems: the rocky reefs from Tropical eastern Pacific and its sea fans. Due to their shape and their exposed surface to currents, these organisms provide a tridimensional space for benthic fauna to establish and also integrate part of the biological chain that incorporates nutrients and organic matter from the water column into the living biomass. In this context, interactions between sea fans and different microorganisms that integrate the ecosystem could be essential to reveal the causes for the prevailing vulnerability of these benthic communities to emergent diseases and environmental degradation.

In consequence, I would like to incorporate the molecular perspective of basal metazoans as hosts that are under potential threat by biotic and abiotic factors. Our target population is Pacifigorgia irene, a sea fan specie that has proven to be severely affected by potential microbial disease agents. In consequence, molecular exploration of this species through genomics could disentangle several processes and give insights of how innate immune response is modulated

You can find me as: c.ramirez11 at / catalina.ramirez.portilla at


My research interests

I have strong interests in Marine Evolutionary Ecology. Whithin this area my main interest is population genetics of marine organisms, and on a larger scale I’m keen about phylogeographic patterns along the Caribbean, finding possible breaks to gene flow and disentangle the main routes for reef connectivity. My work has focused on octocorals and lionfish of the Southern Caribbean including Panama, Colombia and Curaçao.

My projects

I have worked on southern marine connectivity using the lionfish invasion as a real-time model, comparing gene flow between populations and the chronology of lionfish records in Panama, Colombia and Bonaire.

For my Masters thesis I am studied the phenotypic and genetic divergence of morphotypes in the octocoral Briareum asbestinum driven by the interaction with a sponge. I’m focusing on finding strong genetic divergence between morphotypes as a hint of incipient speciation using traditional mito-nuclear markers as well as Next. Gen. sequencing techniques.

On the other hand I’m working on reticulate evolution phenomena in Caribbean octocorals, with special interest on possible gene transfer within species sea fans of the genus Gorgonia and sea plumes of the genus Pseudoterogorgia. As a part of this project I’m working on how to obtain the best information possible on hybridization and gene transfer through the study of multiple variants of ITS-2 in nuclear DNA.

You can find me as: lm.gutierrez443 at / lina.gutierrez94 at

You can find me as: iniguez.a.j at gmail