Genetics and Evolutionary Biology

Male holotype of Drosophila Calatheae

     The aim of the Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology is to provide education and develop outstanding research in the areas of Cell and Molecular Biology, Genetics and Evolution. Consolidated as one of the most prestigious research centers in Genetics and Evolution of Diptera in the 1940s, the Department is internationally recognized for its contributions on Diptera polytene chromosomes and characterization of gene amplification.

     Several major achievements have since 1960 enriched our research in the areas of Human Genetics and Vertebrate Cytogenetics, Genetics, and Evolution; and several major achievements have been made in the identification of genetic mechanisms involved in the etiology of human diseases as well as in the characterization of the genetic variability of neotropical species, in the context of biodiversity and evolutionary processes. This is especially important given the megabiodiversity of our country that still is being described. Also, as many of these species are threatened, we have been using genetic and genomic markers to assist their conservation and, in many cases, these results are used to assist conservation actions of working groups of endangered species of the Brazilian Ministry of Environment.

     Among the Department´s varied research areas that focus on molecular and phenotypic approaches, from yeast to humans, evolution is the most recurring theme. Studies on stem cells have recently been introduced in order to investigate cell differentiation mechanisms, human genetic diseases, and their potential application in regenerative medicine. Human Evolution is also studied in the department, encompassing microevolution, macroevolution, social evolution and paleopathological studies.

     As extension activities, the Department offers genetic tests and counseling for patients and their families, referred from all over the country. In addition to organizing and producing educational kits and textbooks, the Department is also responsible for curating many scientific collections, which include, among other items, vestiges of remote human civilizations of America found at archaeological sites, human and animal DNA samples, and vertebrate tissues. Museographic exhibitions are also established mainly in the field of human evolution.


Currently, the major research lines of the Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology include:

- Biological Anthropology
- Cellular Structural Biology
- Genetics and Cancer
- Genetics and Evolution of Insects
- Genetics, Molecular Evolution and Conservation of Vertebrates
- History of Biology
- Human and Medical Genetics
-Human Population Genetics
- Molecular Genetics of Microorganisms
- Molecular and Evolutionary Genomics
-Molecular and Evolutionary Genomics

Visit the Website of the Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology: (Only in Portuguese)