Dr Juan Viruel

Research Leader

Juan Viruel

I am a Research Leader in Conservation genetics. My research focuses on understanding the evolutionary relationships among a wide variety of plant groups, using population-level genetic data of threatened species to inform conservation plans, and to delimit taxa boundaries based on morphological and molecular data. My research interests also deal with providing food security based on the identification of Crop Wild Relatives (e.g. yams), by characterizing genomic tools to improve crop varieties (e.g. rice), or by deciphering the phylogeography and domestication history of widely distributed crops (e.g. carob tree).  

  • BSc. Biology, University of Sevilla, 2006
  • Diploma of Advanced Studies. Advances in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Habitats, Univ. Zaragoza, 2008
  • European Master's Degree in Secondary Education Teaching, specialty Biology and Geology, Univ. Zaragoza, 2011
  • European PhD. Evolutionary biology and conservation genetics of the Chilean endemic group Epipetrum (Dioscoreaceae). Univ. Zaragoza, 2014
  • Bioinformatics analysis, Specialization Diploma. Univ. Pablo de Olavide, 2016


  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at RBGK. Project: YAMNOMICS: Phylogenomics, evolution, biogeography and key traits for breeders in yams (Dioscorea, Dioscoreaceae), 2017-2018.
  • Postdoctoral researcher at Aix-Marseille Université, France. Project: DYNAMIC: Deciphering symbiotic networks in carob-based Mediterranean agro-ecosystems, 2016
  • Postdoctoral researcher at University of Sevilla, Spain. Project: The hypothesis of reproductive assurance and its importance in the maintenance of mixed reproductive systems, 2015
  • Postdoctoral researcher at Escuela Politécnica Superior de Huesca, Univ. of Zaragoza, Spain. Project: Development of genomic tools to improve European japonica rice varieties through analysis of genetic diversity associated with agronomic traits, 2014

Viruel, J., Conejero, M., Hidalgo, O., et al. (2019). 

A Target Capture-Based Method to Estimate Ploidy From Herbarium Specimens.

Frontiers in Plant Science 10:937. 

Soto Gomez, M., Pokorny, L., Kantar, M.B., et al. (2019).

A customized nuclear target enrichment approach for developing a phylogenomic baseline for Dioscorea yams (Dioscoreaceae).

Applications in Plant Sciences 7: e11254.

Christenhusz, M.J.M., Bangiolo, L., Chase, M.W., et al. (2019). 

Phylogenetics, classification and typification of extant horsetails (Equisetum, Equisetaceae).

Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 189: 311-352.

  • BaoBat – Conservation genetics of two mutualistic species in Madagascar: the iconic baobab Adansonia suazerensis and its bat pollinator Eidolon dupreanum.
  • YAMNOMICS: Phylogenomics, evolution, biogeography and key traits for breeders in yams (Dioscorea, Dioscoreaceae). 
  • DYNAMIC: Deciphering symbiotic networks in carob-based Mediterranean agro-ecosystems.

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Juan Viruel