Department of Genetics

University of Málaga, Spain



Historyof the group






M.Carmen Alvarez

Departamento de Genética,

Facultad de Ciencias

Universidad de Málaga. 

Campus de Teatinos s/n 

Telf.:+34 952 13 19967

Fax: +34952 13 2000 - +34 952 131955 


Julia Béjar, JavierPorta Pelayo


Alejandra Trujillo and Jose María Porta


Angela Orozco


Mª Teresa Méndez Maganto


Juan José Borrego, Victoriano Mulero


Sonia García-Pozo, Jose Antonio Alarcón, Sergio Oliva, Jesús Cano, Guillermo Thode, Gonzalo Martínez, ángel Amores.


Thecytogenetics of marine fish species of the Mediterranean and Atlantic area of Southof Spain, was the dominant interest of the group from 1978 to 1990. Thequestions addressed were related to phylogeny, systematics and evolution of thevarious groups: Blennius, Gobids, Serranids and Sparids. Suitable techniques toobtain chromosomes either from fish tissues or from cell cultures weredeveloped. Different chromosome banding techniques, to be used as chromosomemarkers, were set up. BrdU replication banding was applied by our group, forthe first time, in fish. The fish group of Gobids proved very variable inkaryotypic terms. Especial mention is the species Gobius paganellus thatdisplayed up to 15 different karyomorphs due to chromosome fusions anddeletions. The distribution pattern of this chromosome variability in SouthSpain was interpreted as an adaptive response to Atlantic-Mediterraneanconditions. 

In themid eighties the use of molecular markers (allozymes) was incorporated by thegroup, to approach basic evolutive questions, as well as practical problems,related to genetic variability and structure of wild and cultivated populationsof fish species. In the Aquaculture field we have focused on those species ofinterest in Southern European, such as the seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) andthe seabream (Sparus aurata). This interest has been extendedmore recently to other sparids as well as to the sole fish (Soleasenegalensis). Later on, other molecular markers, mostlymicrosatellites were developed and applied for screening of genetic variabilityand for studies of paternity in cultivated stocks. 

In 1990 the principal investigatorspent a sabbatical leave working with the “fish transgenic group” of theMinnesota University in USA with the objective to implement the transgenictechnology to the seabream species. The DNA transfer protocol bymicroinjection, was set up for this species. The short-term expression patternof several reporter genes driven by strong promoters was successful, thusallowing the use of this system to study genetic expression patterns of earlydevelopment genes of interest in Aquaculture. 

Within the sameobjective of long-term genetic manipulation of S. aurata,technological improvements and tools have been developed such as a permanentfibroblastic cell line SAF-1 from seabream. Additionally a putative ES-likecell line has been developed, which proved pluripotent both by in vitro and invivo assays. For the latter, successful chimera have been produced. 

A current line of research in collaboration with the Microbiology Department deals with exploiting natural genetic resources for natural immunity in seabream, seabass and sole, mostly related to the lisozyme and Mx antimicrobial systems. An ongoing project aims at developing biofactories for using those antimicrobials as immunostimulants


Identification of genes involved in early fishdevelopment. Funded by C.E Period: 1994- 1998 

A comprehensive genetic study of cultured and wildstocks of gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) and geneticassessment of several related species as candidates for aquaculture. Funded by:C.E. Period 1995- 1999 

Desarrollo decélulas totipotentes de dorada (Sparus aurata) para la manipulación genética dela especie. Funded by: Consejería de Industria, Comercio y Turismo (Junta deAndalucía). Period 1996

Influencia defactores genéticos y de la temperatura sobre el crecimiento de la lubina. Fundedby: CICYT. Period 1997-98

Assessment of procedures for the development of aeuropean standardised multi-site testing programme: Application to seabass, Dicentrarchuslabrax. Funded by: CE. Period 1998- 1999

Desarrollo demarcadores genéticos moleculares aloenzimas y microsatélites en el lenguadocultivado, Solea senegalensisFunded by:Programa FEDER (EC). Period 2000-2002

EstudioGenético de poblaciones naturales marroquíes y españolas de Dentex dentex,Lithognathus mormyrus y Pagellusbogaraveo, mediantealoenzimas y microsatélites. Funded by: AECI. Period 2000- 2001

Biofactorías deinmunoproteínas de peces: su aplicación en enfermedades infecciosas. Funded byCICYT. Period 2003-2005.

Herramientas para un programa deselección asistida por marcadores en dorada (Sparus aurata): Búsqueda de QTLs y análisis de la heredabilidad para elcrecimiento. Funded by PETRI. Period 2003-2006.




Amores, A.,Giles, V., Thode, G. and Alvarez, M.C. (1990). Adaptative character of aRobertsonian fusion in chromosomes of the fish Gobius paganellus (Pisces, Perciformes). Heredity 65: 151-155.

Martínez, G.,McEwen, I., McAndrew, B.J. and Alvarez, M.C. (1991). Electrophoretic analysisof protein variation and restriction length polymorphism in mitocondrial DNA ofthe European seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax L (Pisces, Moronidae). Aquaculture andFisheries Management. 22: 443-455.-

Alvarez, M.C.,Otis, J., Amores, A. and Guise, K. (1991). Short-term cell culturetechnique for obtaining chromosomes in marine and freshwater fish. Journalof fish Biology39: 817-824.

Gross, M. L.,Schneider, J F., Moav, N., Alvarez, C., S. H., Liu, Z., Hew, C. and Hallerman,E. (1992). Molecular analysis and growth evaluation of northern pike (Esox lucius) microinjected with growthhormone genes. Aquaculture 103: 253-273.

Alvarez, M.C.(1992). La transgenia como alternativa en la mejora genética de peces. Bol.Sociedad Española de Genética 2: 5-7. 

Amores, A.,Martínez, G., Reina, J. and Alvarez, M.C. (1993). Karyotype C banding andAg-NOR in Diplodus bellottii (Sparidae, Perciforms). Intraindividual polymorphism involvingheterochromatic regions. Genome 36 (4): 672-675.

McKeown, B.A.,and Alvarez, M.C. (1994). Immunocytochemical and radioimmuno assay studies onnorthern pike (Esox lucius) and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum ) growth hormone. ComparativeBiochemistry and Physiology 107: 69-72.

Reina, J.,Martínez, G., Amores, A., and Alvarez, M.C. (1994). Interspecific geneticdifferentiation in Mediterranean Sparid fish. Aquaculture 125: 47-57.

Amores, A. Béjar,J. and Alvarez, M.C. (1995) . High-resolution replication bands in theAnguillifom fish Echelus myrus. Chromosome Research 3: 423-426.

Amores, A. Béjar,J. and Alvarez, M.C (1995) . Replication, C and AgNOR chromosome bandingin two Anguilliform fish species. Marine Biology 123: 845-849.

Alvarez M.C.(1995). Los peces, sistemas "modélicos" en la manipulación genética.Aulas del mar, Acuicultura. Zamora et al. Ed. Univ. Murcia 207-218.

Béjar J., BorregoJ.J. and Alvarez M.C. (1997) . Continuous cell line from the cultured marinespecies gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). Aquaculture 150, 143-153 

Garcia-Pozo Sand Alvarez M.C. (1998). Comparative expression of the plasmids pCMV-CAT andpCMVtk-lacZ in embryos and larvae of the seabream. CIHEAM Cahiers OptionsMediterranéennes34: 141-151.

Béjar, J., HongY. and Alvarez M.C. (1998). Development of ES cells from Sparus aurata embryos: Preliminary results. CIHEAMCahiers Options Mediterranéennes 34: 131-139.

Martinez-Rodriguez,G., Alvarez M.C., and McAndrew, B. J. (1998). Genetic variability ofEuropean sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax L: Data from a hatchery stock. AquacultureResearch 29:851-853.

Garcia-Pozo S., Béjar,J., Shaw M. and Alvarez M.C. (1998) . Effect of exogenous DNA microinjection onearly development response of the seabream (Sparus aurata) . Molecular Marine Biologyand Biotechnology 7, (4) 248-258.

Alarcón, J.A.and Alvarez M.C. (1999). Genetic identification Sparidae species by isozymemarkers. Applications to interspecific hybrids. Aquaculture 173: 95-103.

Perez-Prieto,S.I., Rodriguez-Saint Jean, S., Garcia-Rosado, E., Castro, D., Alvarez, M.C.and Borrego, J.J. (1999). Virus susceptibility of the fish cell line SAF-1derived from gilt-head seabream. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 35: 149-153.

Béjar, J., Hong,Y. and Alvarez M.C. (1999). Towards obtaining ES cells in the marine fishspecies Sparus aurata; Multipassage maintenance, characterization and transfection. Geneticanalysis and BiomolecularEngineering15: 125-129.

Alvarez M.C.(1999) . Peces transgénicos y Acuicultura: logros y perspectivas. En “Patología,Fisiología y Biotoxicología en especies acuáticas”. Ed CSIC. CL, pp.141-150.

Hackett, P. B.and Alvarez M.C.  (2000). Themolecular genetics of transgenic fish . Recent Advances in MarineBiotechnology,Vol. 4: Aquaculture. M. Fingerman and R. Nagabhushanam eds. Science Publishers,Inc.,Enfieldl (NH), USA, pp. 77-145.

Palma, J.,Alarcon, J. A., Alvarez, C., Zouros, E., Magoulas, A. And Andrade,JP. (2001). Developmental stability and genetic heterozygosity in wild andcultured stocks of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Journal of the MarineBiological Association of UK 81: 283-288.

Ayala, M.D.,López-Albors, O., Gil, F., García-Alcazar, A., Abellan, E., Alarcón, J.A.,Alvarez, M.C. Ramírez-Zarzosaand, G., and Moreno, F. (2001). Temperatureeffects on muscle growth in two populations Atlantic and Mediterranean of SeaBass (Dicentrarchus labrax L) . Aquaculture 202: 359-370.

Béjar, J.,Hong,Y. and Alvarez, M.C. (2002). ES cell like line from the marine fish Sparusaurata.Characterization and chimeras production. Transgenic Research  11:279-289.

Bargelloni, L.Alarcón, J.A., Alvarez, M.C., Penzo,E., Magoulas, A., Reis, C. and Patarnello,T. (2003). Discord in the family Sparidae (Teleostei): divergentphylogeographical patterns across the Atlantic-Mediterranean divide. Journalof Evolutionary Biology 16: 1149-1158.

Béjar, J., Hong, Y. andSchartl, M. 2003. Mitf expression is sufficient to direct differentiation ofmedaka blastula derived stem cells into melanocytes. Development 130: 6555-6567.

Alarcon J.A,Magoulas, A., Georgakopoulos A. Zouros E. and Alvarez, M.C. (2004).Genetic comparison of wild and cultivated european populations of the giltheadseabream (Sparus aurata ). Aquaculture  230: 65-80.

Porta, J. and Alvarez, M. C.Development of microsatellites from senegal sole (Solea senegalensis) and their application in broodstockanalysis. Molecular Ecology Notes(in press).