Juan Lopez-Bautista


Phone: (205) 348-1791

Email: jlopez@ua.edu

Dr. Lopez-Bautista’s Lab Webpage

Juan Lopez-Bautista received a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Louisiana State University in 2000 and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of Louisiana. He was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in 2003, Associate Professor in 2009, and Professor in 2013.

Research Interests

My principal research interests are in Phycology. My research program is focused on the biodiversity, phylogenomics, molecular systematics, and evolution of algae. My current projects are on algal plastid genomes and two NSF-funded Tree of Life projects in Green and Red algae. Other related projects are seaweed biodiversity in the Gulf of Mexico and the subaerial microchlorophytes from tropical rainforests.

GRAToL: Assembling the Green Algal Tree of Life. This project will assemble a Tree of Life for the green algae. A minimum estimate of diversity of the group is a little more 14,000, with species distributed on all continents and across virtually every habitat type on Earth. Although recently molecular studies have revealed two major clades of green algae (marine groups and several freshwater and marine unicellular lineages in one group, and several freshwater groups plus embryophytes as the second), the relationships among major lineages within the green algae are poorly known. Moreover, within the major groups, relationships and monophyly of many traditionally defined groups are poorly resolved. Our collaborative research team will use an approach that is a hybrid of PCR-based multi-gene sequencing and next-generation sequencing methods. We will assemble a green algal tree of life by sequencing 10 genes for +400 taxa. Next-generation sequencing will be used for a subset of 16 taxa to study deep phylogenetic relationships in the green algae, find genes for detailed analysis of particular groups, and examine organellar genome evolution in the green algae. A global analysis will be used to make a reclassification for all green algae.

REDToL: Phylogenetic and Genomic Approaches to Reconstructing the Red Algal (Rhodophyta) Tree of Life. Rhodophyta (red algae) are key members of aquatic environments and sources for important human foods and have a multitude of pharmaceutical and industrial uses. Rhodophyta played an important role in the evolution of our planet through secondary endosymbiosis. A red alga was the ancient donor of the plastid in groups such as dinoflagellates, brown algae, and diatoms (among others). Our project is aiming to: 1) reconstruct a robust phylogeny of 471 red algal species using a concatenated dataset of 2 nuclear, 4 plastid, and 2 mitochondrial encoded gene markers, 2) sequence plastid genomes and generate transcriptome databases for 16 key taxa that represent the phylogenetic (e.g., class- and order-level) breadth of the red algae, 3) make freely available red algal multi-gene and genome data via release to GenBank and a project-specific web site. The robust phylogenetic framework resulting from our study will be the basis for a comprehensive taxonomic revision of the red algae and provide the basis for interpreting key innovations during red algal evolution.

These Rhodophyta and Chlorophyta AToL projects will integrate data with other AToL projects (heterokonts, liverworts and other embryophytes) to identify core genes for broad phylogenetic analyses. These investigations will also provide a common framework for a future comprehensive eukaryotic tree.

SUBAERIAL MICROCHLOROPHYTES FROM TROPICAL RAINFORESTS. Our laboratory has been investigating the subaerial representatives of the orders Trentepohliales, Klebsormidiales and Cladophorales. Molecular systematics and phylogenetic analyses along with morphology-based classification hypotheses have been our tools to unravel biological and evolutionary trends. Gene sequencing techniques and computerized data analyses of nuclear and plastid genes as well as ultrastructure has been used in this research. My particular interest in the Trentepohliales is centered in the phylogenetic relationships among the genera and species as well as the species concept in the order. We are investigating the taxonomy and systematics of Klebsormidium by a combination of morphological studies and sequencing of the rbcL gene. Our results so far indicate that a great deal of genetic diversity is hidden behind the simple morphology of these subaerial microchlorophytes, and that the current concepts of several common species will probably need to be reassessed. Biodiversity surveys are also part of our current interest, in particular from tropical rainforests. A comparison with other tropical regions is showing that our floristic accounts are very high figure. Thus, we have able to conclude that French Guiana and Panama are biodiversity hotspots for subaerial algae.

SEAWEED DIVERSITY. The macroalgal biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico has been the spotlight of my research during several decades. We are currently studying the benthic marine algae from the North Central Gulf of Mexico and Cuba. We are developing a digital database of seaweeds from these areas. Changes in the floristic composition related to human-induced changes in the environment as well as detection of non-indigenous species has been the focal point in our current investigations.


Selected Publications

DePriest, M., Bhattacharya, D. and J. Lopez-Bautista. 2013. The plastid genome of the red macroalga Grateloupia taiwanensis (Halymeniaceae). PLOS ONE

Young, R., von Salm, J., Amsler, M., Lopez-Bautista, J., Amsler, C., McClintock, J., and B. Baker. 2013. Site-specific variability in the chemical diversity of the Antarctic red alga Plocamium cartilagineum. Mar. Drugs. 11:2126-2139

Zi-Min, H., Zhang, J., Lopez-Bautista, J. and D. De-Lin. 2013. Assymetric genetic exchange in the brown seaweed Sargassum fusiforme (Phaeophyceae) driven by oceanic currents. Marine Biology 160(6):1407-1414

Allali, H., Rindi, F. and J. Lopez-Bautista. 2013. Biodiversity of Trentepohliales (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta) in Gabon, central Africa. Nova Hedwigia 96(3-4):309-324

Lopez-Bautista, J. and M. S. DePriest. 2012.  In Sarah Fredericks, Lei Shen, Shirley Thompson, & Daniel Vasey (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Sustainability: Vol. 4. Natural Resources and Sustainability, pp. 25–29. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

DePriest, M. and J. Lopez-Bautsita. In Press. Sequencing of the rbcL marker reveals the non-native red alga Grateloupia taiwanensis (Halymeniaceae, Rhodophyta)in Alabama. Gulf of Mexico Science, 2012 (1-2):7-13

Rindi, F. Mikhailyuk, R., Sluiman, H., Friedl, T. and J. Lopez-Bautista. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships inInterfilum and Klebsormidium (Klebsormidiophyceae, Streptophyta). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 58:218-231

Vis, M., Yoon, HS, Bhattacharya, D. and J. Lopez-Bautista. 2010. REDToL – The Red Algal Tree of Life. In: Why Study the Tree of Life? – Scientists Speak, (Edited by Mikkelsen P). Amer. Paleontologist 18(3):10-11.

Rindi, F., Allali, H., Lam, H., and J. Lopez-Bautista. 2010. An overview of biodiversity and biogeography of terrestrial green algae. In: Columbus, F. (ed.) Biodiversity Hotspots, Nova Science Publishers Inc., Hauppauge, NY.

Lopez-Bautista, J. M. 2009. Red Algal Genomics: A Synopsis. In: Seckbach, J. And D. Chapman (Eds.) Red Algae In Genomic Age, Springer, Dordrecht.