Galván Macías Ismael


I investigate on evolutionary physiology of biological pigments and pigment traits, adopting a novel approach consisting in the combination of knowledge on the chemistry of pigments with that on evolutionary mechanisms. This leads to address basic evolutionary and ecological questions, and also to work to find applications to combat human diseases related to pigment synthesis. I have made contributions to the biological functions of porphyrins, like demonstrating their role in determining the pigmentation phenotype of some birds. I have been pioneer in the use of Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of melanins in biological samples, which is now been explored as a tool for the early diagnosis of melanoma of the skin, and in the study of wild animal models for human diseases as shown by the discovery of the first mammal with physiological capacity to accumulate large amounts of carotenoid pigments in the skin. In different experimental studies with birds I have demonstrated epigenetic lability in genes that regulate pheomelanin synthesis and cysteine metabolism, knowledge that shows new strategies of physiological adaptation to environmental changes and sexual selection, and that also contributes to a better understanding of melanoma prevalence in humans. I have also unveiled a novel metabolic pathway of pigmentation in vertebrates, based on the oxidation of catecholamine metabolites excreted in the urine. 

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