• Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Catarina Lopes Pinho
 
Position: Auxiliary Researcher
Member Type: Researchers
Degree: PhD
Email: catarina@cibio.up.pt
Address: CIBIO-InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
Groups: AP, POPGEN

I am mostly interested in combining different sources of information to gain new insights on the mechanisms that lead to the isolation of populations, genetic differentiation and, ultimately, to speciation.

 

As a PhD student, I focused my research on a complex group of Iberian and North African endemic lizards, Podarcis. This species complex provides a good framework to investigate the processes of reproductive isolation and speciation and, at the same time, to test hypotheses about the influence of historical climatic changes or geological phenomena in shaping the present-day genetic diversity. We have shown that the various forms within this group are differentiated despite having poorly defined genetic boundaries and remaining porous to gene flow, highlighting the gradual and continuous nature of speciation. I am now starting a new research project aiming at unraveling the processes that occur on contact zones between different species.

 

My main research project at the moment, which I am pursuing under the supervision of Prof. Jody Hey, from Rutgers University, in the US, deals with studying the roles of natural and sexual selection in driving speciation in Lake Malawi mbuna cichlids. These colourful fish have become a classical evolutionary puzzle: how could such a tremendous diversity (>600 species) have arisen in such a short time (less than the Lake’s age, ca. 1-2 million years)? It is likely that divergence occurred in a sympatric context, therefore implying that natural and sexual selection might have played a very important and direct role in speciation. One of the main goals of my research is therefore to understand how genetic homogenous species are and which phenotypical characters, potential targets of diversifying selection, differ the most among genetic groups. We are also compiling data to build a phylogeny of these species.

 

I am also interested in developing mathematical models for biological systems. I am currently pursuing a second college degree – in mathematics, with a minor in statistics and models – to develop the necessary skills.

 

I am also committed to fight for better work conditions for researchers – I am part of the direction board of ABIC (the Portuguese scientific grant-holders association), which strives for replacing fellowships and grants by work contracts and giving grant-holders the same rights as other workers.