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Faculty of Science and Technology

Department of Biological & Chemical Sciences

Dr. Yvonne Vallès

Dr. Yvonne Vallès

Lecturer in Genetics

Department: BCS


It all started in Haiti, where I collected with my brother “bugs” and brought them home while driving our parents crazy. It led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology where I learned about animal diversity. But how do we go about it? When is a “bug” a new species?

I obtained a Master’s degree in Ecology and Systematics from SFSU, where I focused on taxonomic issues such as species concepts, morphological character plasticity and traditional classification. This work sparked my curiosity on molecular evolution and how changes at the molecular level create such morphological diversity.

Through my PhD at UC, Berkeley and the JGI, and my first postdoc at UC, Berkeley, I received training in genomics, phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, comparative embryonic development and developmental genetics of annelid taxa.  Since 2010, I have discovered and worked in projects that use metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches to explore the human microbiomes in health and disease.


B.Sc. (Facultad de de Biologia, Oviedo, Spain), 1997
MA. (San Francisco State University, USA), 2002
Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley, USA), 2007

Research Areas

Technological advances allow us to explore beyond a simple characterization of the biological world and provide us with the tools needed to shed light on the underlying processes involved in the development and conservation of biological networks. Throughout my training I have acquired knowledge on systematics, molecular evolution, developmental biology, metazoan and microbial evolution and comparative genomics. My interest’s lie at multiple levels, from understanding the basic processes of genome evolution to using high throughput technologies to decipher symbiotic relationships. My goal is to integrate organismal and molecular evolution, symbiotic and community dynamics in an ecological framework to elucidate the underlying processes driving the equilibrium of biological systems.

The role of the infant gut microbiome in the prediction of obesity
There is substantial data from animal experiments and human studies pointing to the potential importance of early life development of the microbiome in determining excess body weight gain. Our study investigates if infants born from healthy or obese mothers present at birth microbial community biomarkers corresponding to their mother’s health condition. 2016 (Active Grant). Al Jalila Foundation Research Center AJF201653. (US$ 81,395.28)

Establishing new breeding strategies to restore the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep (BBS) Industry
BBS have been a source of income for subsistence farmers, but the small size of the sheep population and the specific trait selection has led to high levels of inbreeding. Our objective is to assess the levels of inbreeding and establish a healthy and productive breeding strategy to create a BBS industry. 2020. Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (US$ 9.275,72)

Teaching Areas

Diversity of Life II
Introduction to Genetics
Advanced Genetics
Molecular Techniques
Principles of Bioinformatics

Select Publications

Vallès, Y., and Francino, MP. 2018. Air pollution, Early life Microbiome and Development. Curr Envron Health Rep 5(4):512-521. doi: 10.1007/s40572-018-0215-y. Review.*

Vallès, Y., et al. 2018. Types of tobacco consumption and the oral microbiome in the United Arab Emirates Healthy Future (UAEHFS) Pilot Study. Sci. Rep: 8(1):11327

Vallès, Y., Artacho, A., Pascual, A., Ferrus, ML., Gosalbes, MJ., Abellan, JJ and Francino, MP. 2014. Microbial Succession in the Gut: Directional Trends of Taxonomic and Functional Change in a Birth Cohort of Spanish Infants. PLoS Genetics 10(6): e1004406

Gosalbes, MJ., Llop, S., Vallès, Y., Moya, A., Ballester, F. and Francino, MP. 2013. Meconium microbiota types dominated by lactic acid or enteric bacteria are differentially associated with eczema and respiratory problems. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 43(2): 198-211

Cho, SJ1., Vallès, Y1., Giani, VC. Jr., Seaver, E., and Weisblat, DA. 2010. Evolutionary dynamics of the Wnt gene family: a lophotrochozoan perspective. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27(7): 1645-58.

Additional Info

Genomics, Evolution, Metagenomics, Mitochondrial DNA, Transcriptomics


DNA, Genomics, Evolution, Metagenomics, Mitochondrial DNA, Transcriptomics

Department of Biological & Chemical Sciences
Telephone: (246) 417-4324/4323/4322 Fax:(246) 417-4325 Email: