Department: Animal Reproduction



To understand the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that controls the preimplantation embryo development in vivo and in vitro, their developmental variability, plasticity and adaptability, their sex determination and differentiation, their genetic manipulation and their differentiation to embryonic stem cells.Identify in early development adaptations important for animal production and for healthy ageing and wellbeing.Analyze the genetic and epigenetic alterations produced by the techniques of in vitro manipulation, and their long term and transgenerational effect, and we are innovating and developing new transgenic technologies as transgenic mediated by ICSI, spermatozoa, and transgenesis.

Key words: embryo, early development, genetic and epigenetic regulation, assisted reproduction, stem cells and transgenesis.

[Picture of the research group]
  • Researcher contact: Alfonso Gutierrez Adán
  • Address: Avda. Puerta de Hierro, nº12, local 10. 28040 MADRID (España)
  • Telephone: 91 3473768
  • e-mail:

Foto de Alfonso Gutiérrez

Research summary

Our long-term aims are to understand epigenetic regulation of gene expression in early mammalian development and stem cells. The preimplantation embryo stage is an essential tool for many areas of biotechnology, such as those used in animal production, assisted reproduction, production of stem cells for cell therapy, transgenic animal production, conservation of germplasm, etc. At the same time is a unique tool for understanding mechanisms of genetic and epigenetic reprogramming that occurs not only during the preimplantation development, but also in other processes like the formation and differentiation of stem cells, tumour formation and aging, as well as derivatives of certain technologies such as transgenesis and nuclear transfer. The unit is pioneer in the transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis of preimplantation embryos in animals’ models and farm animals, with the objective of improve the techniques of embryo manipulation and to produce viable embryos with greater efficiency and quality. We are also analysing the genetic and epigenetic reprogramming that occurs during the formation and differentiation of embryonic stem cells and in reprogramming adult cells to inducible stem cells. We are pioneers in the development of new techniques for transgenesis. We are also analysing how alteration in early developmental networks can expose otherwise buffered stochastic variability in gene expression, leading to pronounced phenotypic variation (both in animal production traits as the origin of adult diseases).