Dr Antonio Hernandez-Lopez

March, 2024 - July, 2024
LE STUDIUM Visiting Researcher


National School of Higher Studies UNAM - León Unit - MX

In residence at

Insect Biology Research Institute (IRBI), University of Tours / CNRS - FR

Host scientist

Dr Carlos Lopez-Vaamonde 


I earned my PhD in Evolutionary Biology from Imperial College, London in 2005. Currently, I serve as a PI and full professor at the Agrogenomic Sciences department of the ENES - UNAM in León, Mexico, where I teach ecological genomics, evolution, and population genomics at both undergraduate and graduate levels. My research focuses on understanding the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms shaping biotic interactions in agricultural and disturbed ecosystems. One area I investigate is plant-insect interactions in pest and invasive species contexts, considering the impacts of climate change and agricultural intensification. Additionally, I use a number of meta genomic approaches to describe and monitor biodiversity in a wide range of organisms, from microbes to insects, and evaluate the impact of human activities on both diversity and function of communities. 


Characterizing hyperdiverse insect communities of tropical dry forests using high-throughput molecular approaches

Glimpsing the future of ecosystems requires characterization of biodiversity but also of its genetic diversity, since the latter determines its potential to survive, evolve and recover from disturbance events. The management and conservation of biodiversity therefore must be supported by confirmation of the species that are lost and in which regions this loss occurs and its reasons. However, most of our current knowledge about biodiversity loss focuses on vertebrates or is limited to temperate zones. This leaves out megadiverse invertebrate groups that are not currently accessible to morphological taxonomy, making difficult the study of highly diverse ecosystems and their biodiversity status. This situation is rapidly changing through the use of HTS sequencing of mass samples of eukaryotic organisms, which allows a rapid species-level monitoring of biodiversity. These metagenetic and metagenomic techniques provide ecological information that can be retrieved in the form of estimates of alpha and beta diversity. In Mexico, the tropical deciduous forest (TDF) is one of the most important ecosystems in terms of its extent and diversity, though it has been drastically reduced along the country in the last decades due to intensive anthropogenic activity. In this study, we will perform a biodiversity assessment and monitoring of terrestrial and soil arthropod communities in two regions composed of TDF using metabarcoding and mitochondrial metagenomic data to investigate the effects of regional and global disturbances in alpha, beta and functional diversity. We will also generate various outreach products derived from this research to inform about the consequences of the loss of the extraordinary arthropod diversity that is present in the tropical ecosystems in Mexico. This multidisciplinary research is a collaboration of five Mexican and international researchers who have wide experience in complementary lines of research
(entomology, systematics, molecular phylogenetics, genomics, ecology). We expect to generate a vast amount of novel genetic information as a baseline to predict turnovers in the composition of biodiversity from Mexican TDFs.