Publications

by Keyword: Evolution


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Vilanova, E., Ciodaro, P. J., Bezerra, F. F., Santos, G. R. C., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Anselmetti, D., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Mourão, P. A. S., (2020). Adhesion of freshwater sponge cells mediated by carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions requires low environmental calcium Glycobiology 30, (9), 710-721

Marine ancestors of freshwater sponges had to undergo a series of physiological adaptations to colonize harsh and heterogeneous limnic environments. Besides reduced salinity, river-lake systems also have calcium concentrations far lower than seawater. Cell adhesion in sponges is mediated by calcium-dependent multivalent self-interactions of sulfated polysaccharide components of membrane-bound proteoglycans named aggregation factors. Cells of marine sponges require seawater average calcium concentration (10 mM) to sustain adhesion promoted by aggregation factors. We demonstrate here that the freshwater sponge Spongilla alba can thrive in a calcium-poor aquatic environment and that their cells are able to aggregate and form primmorphs with calcium concentrations 40-fold lower than that required by marine sponges cells. We also find that their gemmules need calcium and other micronutrients to hatch and generate new sponges. The sulfated polysaccharide purified from S. alba has sulfate content and molecular size notably lower than those from marine sponges. Nuclear magnetic resonance analyses indicated that it is composed of a central backbone of non- and 2-sulfated α- and β-glucose units decorated with branches of α-glucose. Assessments with atomic force microscopy/single-molecule force spectroscopy show that S. alba glucan requires 10-fold less calcium than sulfated polysaccharides from marine sponges to self-interact efficiently. Such an ability to retain multicellular morphology with low environmental calcium must have been a crucial evolutionary step for freshwater sponges to successfully colonize inland waters.

Keywords: Carbohydrate interactions, Evolutionary adaptation, Porifera, Proteoglycans, Sulfated polysaccharides


Moulin-Frier, C., Puigbò, J. Y., Arsiwalla, X. D., Sanchez-Fibla, M., Verschure, P., (2018). Embodied artificial intelligence through distributed adaptive control: An integrated framework ICDL-EpiRob 2017 7th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics , IEEE (Lisbon, Portugal) , 324-330

In this paper, we argue that the future of Artificial Intelligence research resides in two keywords: integration and embodiment. We support this claim by analyzing the recent advances in the field. Regarding integration, we note that the most impactful recent contributions have been made possible through the integration of recent Machine Learning methods (based in particular on Deep Learning and Recurrent Neural Networks) with more traditional ones (e.g. Monte-Carlo tree search, goal babbling exploration or addressable memory systems). Regarding embodiment, we note that the traditional benchmark tasks (e.g. visual classification or board games) are becoming obsolete as state-of-the-art learning algorithms approach or even surpass human performance in most of them, having recently encouraged the development of first-person 3D game platforms embedding realistic physics. Building on this analysis, we first propose an embodied cognitive architecture integrating heterogeneous subfields of Artificial Intelligence into a unified framework. We demonstrate the utility of our approach by showing how major contributions of the field can be expressed within the proposed framework. We then claim that benchmarking environments need to reproduce ecologically-valid conditions for bootstrapping the acquisition of increasingly complex cognitive skills through the concept of a cognitive arms race between embodied agents.

Keywords: Cognitive Architectures, Embodied Artificial Intelligence, Evolutionary Arms Race, Unified Theories of Cognition


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology , 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Juanola-Feliu, E., Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Català , P., Samitier, J., Valls-Pasola, J., (2012). Market challenges facing academic research in commercializing nano-enabled implantable devices for in-vivo biomedical analysis Technovation , 32, (3-4), 193-204

This article reports on the research and development of a cutting-edge biomedical device for continuous in-vivo glucose monitoring. This entirely public-funded process of technological innovation has been conducted at the University of Barcelona within a context of converging technologies involving the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, telecommunications, electronics and energy. The authors examine the value chain and the market challenges faced by in-vivo implantable biomedical devices based on nanotechnologies. In so doing, they trace the process from the point of applied research to the final integration and commercialization of the product, when the social rate of return from academic research can be estimated. Using a case-study approach, the paper also examines the high-tech activities involved in the development of this nano-enabled device and describes the technology and innovation management process within the value chain conducted in a University-Hospital-Industry-Administration-Citizens framework. Here, nanotechnology is seen to represent a new industrial revolution, boosting the biomedical devices market. Nanosensors may well provide the tools required for investigating biological processes at the cellular level in vivo when embedded into medical devices of small dimensions, using biocompatible materials, and requiring reliable and targeted biosensors, high speed data transfer, safely stored data, and even energy autonomy.

Keywords: Biomedical device, Diabetes, Innovation management, Nanobiosensor, Nanotechnology, Research commercialization, Technology transfer, Academic research, Applied research, Barcelona, Biocompatible materials, Biological process, Biomedical analysis, Biomedical devices, Cellular levels, Converging technologies, Glucose monitoring, High-speed data transfer, Implantable biomedical devices, Implantable devices, In-vivo, Industrial revolutions, Innovation management, Medical Devices, Nanobiosensor, Rate of return, Research and development, Technological innovation, Value chains, Biological materials, Biomedical engineering, Biosensors, Commerce, Data transfer, Earnings, Engineering education, Glucose, Implants (surgical), Industrial research, Innovation, Medical problems, Nanosensors, Nanotechnology, Technology transfer, Equipment