More about us:

Dr. Sean M. Rovito

Principal Investigator

We use molecular tools to study the processes that have produced the impressive vertebrate diversity of Mesoamerica and we use this species diversity to answer evolutionary questions. Additionally, we try to apply the results of evolutionary and ecological studies of Mesoamerican vertebrates to promote their conservation.
Lab projects currently use Neotropical lungless salamanders as a biological model, but we are open to working with other vertebrates.

Research lines:

  • Salamander speciation in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: in this project, we use thousands of genetic markers generated by transcriptome sequencing to test geographic and demographic hypotheses from the formation of Pseudoeurycea. salamander species.
  • Microbiomes of salamanders of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: we use massive amplicon sequencing to characterize bacterial and fungal diversity present in the salamander skin. Also, we investigate which factors (evolutionary history, environment, geographic space) have a major impact on the microbiome composition between sites and salamander species.
  • Bacterial and fungal microbiomes of cave-dwelling salamanders of Mexico: we characterize the microbiome of cave-dwelling Mexican salamanders with genomic and metagenomic tools and will look for bacteria with antifungal properties that could protect amphibians against outbreaks of fungal diseases.

Recent projects:

  • “Speciation and evolution modes of salamanders and their cutaneous microbiome in volcanic mountain ranges of Mesoamerica”. SEP – CONACYT – Basic Science no. 221614 (2015-2018).
  • “Development of a conservation strategy against infectious fungal diseases through the characterization and use of the salamanders’ skin microbiome”. CONACYT – National Problems Attention no. 2250-6 (2017-2018).
  • “Speciation genomics in terrestrial vertebrates from the Revillagigedo Islands”. UC Mexus – CONACYT (2017-2018).

Most relevant publications:

Recent publications:

To access all publications, click the following links:

Dr. Sean M. Rovito

Principal Investigator

"Systematics and speciation of Neotropical salamanders; salamander microbiome characterization and diversification and evolution of salamanders"

Eng. Ana Mayela Ornelas Morin

Research Assistant

"Thermal physiology of Mexican salamanders"

Dr. Christopher James Evelyn


"Parapatric speciation of plethodontid salamanders"

M. Sc. Julio César García Sánchez

PhD student in Plant Biotechnology

"Bacterial microbiome of salamanders from the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in a phylogenetic context. Characterization of the bacterial microbiome of Mexican cave-dwelling salamanders and development of a conservation strategy for them"

M. Sc. María Guadalupe Segovia

PhD student in Plant Biotechnology

"Demographic and geographic investigation of the speciation of salamanders from the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt using transcriptomic data"

M. Sc. Louis Paul Decena Segarra

PhD student in Plant Biotechnology

"Evolution of genome size in Mexican salamanders"

Zeltzin Corina Rodríguez Ortiz

Master’s student in Integrative Biology

"Beta diversity patterns in Neotropical salamanders"

Juan Alfredo Gutiérrez Morales

Master’s student in Integrative Biology

"Speciation of Urosaurus lizards in the Revillagigedo Islands"

Emanuel Martinez Ugalde

Master’s student in Plant Biotechnology

"Fungal microbiome characterization of Mexican cave-dwelling salamanders"

Mizraim Olivares Miranda

Master’s student in Plant Biotechnology

"The role of chytridiomycosis in population declines of Mexican cave-dwelling salamanders"

Jorge Alejandro López Torres

Master’s student in Plant Biotechnology

"Ecomorphology and community ecology of Neotropical salamanders"

Ariadna Marcela Tenorio Olvera

Undergraduate student

"Development of a method to prepare amplicon libraries of the 16S gene of the intestinal bacterial microbiome of plethodontid salamanders (Plethodontidae)"