Mario Rivas

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Houston, Houston Science Center, Rm 422

B.S., National Autonomous University of México, 2011
Ph.D., National Autonomous University of México, 2018

Research Interests: 

An accurate description and understanding of the evolutionary pathways that life on Earth has taken is crucial in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. The ribosome, in particular, has been recognized as a critical biomolecule, whose early evolution is of special interest because many aspects of its origins likely predate the Last Common Ancestor (LCA). As a member of the Fox Lab I will take advantage of the large numbers of atomic resolution structures to develop timelines explaining the order of major events associated with the evolution of the translation system and how these events relate to other cellular processes. By analyzing the crystallographic structures of ribosomes of distantly related organisms and of several transition states, I’m able to recognize early interactions that guided rRNA evolution. These structures also contain detailed information about rRNA/rProtein interactions. These interactions provide insight into the ancestry of universal rProteins and other components of the translation machinery.

Selected publications: 

Rivas, M., Tran, Q., & Fox, G. E. (2013). Nanometer scale pores similar in size to the entrance of the ribosomal exit cavity are a common feature of large RNAs. RNA, 19(10), 1349–54.

Rivas, M., Becerra, A., & Lazcano, A. (2018). On the Early Evolution of Catabolic Pathways: A Comparative Genomics Approach. I. The Cases of Glucose, Ribose, and the Nucleobases Catabolic Routes. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 86(1), 27–46.