Evolutionary Systems



Susanna Manrubia

Group Leader



The main interest of our group is the theoretical study of evolutionary systems of different kinds. We develop models inspired by the phenomenology observed in natural systems, chiefly molecular populations, viruses, and interacting agents at the cellular level and up.





Puente-Sánchez F, Aguirre J, Parro V. A novel conceptual approach to read-filtering in high-throughput amplicon sequencing studies. Nucleic Acids Res 2016; 44: e40

Iranzo J, Buldú JM, Aguirre J. Competition among networks highlights the power of the weak. Nat Commun 2016; 7: 13273

Aguirre J, Manrubia S. Tipping points and early warning signals in the genomic composition of populations induced by environmental changes. Sci Rep 2015; 5: 9664

Capitán JA, Axelsen JB, Manrubia S. New patterns in human biogeography revealed by networks of contacts between linguistic groups. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B-Biol Sci 2015; 282: 20142947

Manrubia S, Cuesta JA. Evolution on neutral networks accelerates the ticking rate of the molecular clock. J R Soc Interface 2015; 12: 20141010

More publications


The main interest of our group is the theoretical study of evolutionary systems of different kinds. We develop models inspired by the phenomenology observed in natural systems, chiefly molecular populations, viruses, and interacting agents at the cellular level and up. Our approach addresses the study of fundamental properties of adapting systems –with strong emphasis on their evolutionary origin— or, more specifically, tries to reproduce and eventually, to predict the response of such populations to endogenous and exogenous changes. In this context, we analyse the properties of the genotype-phenotype map through models such as the folded state of RNA sequences, focusing on the topological structure of neutral networks of genotypes and its relevance in adaptation and molecular innovation. Another main goal is to understand the survival strategies of viruses, including the relevance of multipartite genomes or the ecological effect of viral satellites. At a higher organizational level, we are also interested in modelization of the interaction between agents organized in networks that vie for resources, food, or mates, as competitive interactions represent one of the driving forces behind evolution and natural selection in biological systems. Finally, we explore the application of complex systems to biotechnology through the development of analysis techniques with environmental and health purposes. We have applied graph theory to antibody microarrays to improve the characterization of experimental samples, with direct application to allergy control, toxin detection in fresh water ecosystems, and identification of potential biomarkers in space missions. Our studies of viral response to antiviral treatments have determined optimal modes of drug administration to minimize viral load and mutant escape.

Figure1 SManrubiaSlow environmental change, fast biological response. The genomic composition of populations (top) can undergo sudden shifts in response to smooth environmental changes (bottom) (modified from Aguirre & Manrubia, 2015)


Figure2 SManrubia

The power of the weak. Cooperative interactions between two a priori weak populations can provide a collective advantage superior to direct alliances with a strong population (modified from Iranzo et al., 2016).






Susanna Manrubia Principal investigator
Jacobo Aguirre Postdoctoral scientist
Juan Antonio García-Martín Postdoctoral scientist
Adriana Lucía-Sanz Predoctoral student
Pilar Somovilla Predoctoral student

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