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André Ricardo de Oliveira Cavalcanti

Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Information

R. C. Seaver Biology Building, Room 37
175 W Sixth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
Personal Webpage


Ph.D. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil, Chemistry
M. A. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil, Chemistry
B. A. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil, Chemistry

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Biology, Pomona College
Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University


Biology 40: Introductory Genetics
Biology 173: Bioinformatics and Genomics with Laboratory
Biology 189O: Computer Programming in Biology

Research Interests

My research interests can be grouped into three main areas all involving molecular evolution, and sometimes overlapping:

  1. Gene Scrambling in Ciliates
    Ciliate genes undergo an incredible amount of rearrangement when a new Macronucleus is formed. I am interested in determining the mechanisms with which these cells perform these rearrangements and in the evolutionary origins of these mechanisms.
  2. Patterns of Gene Duplications in Whole Genomes
    Gene duplication is supposed to be the main mechanism by which genetic novelties arise. I use full genome sequences to study the pattern of duplications in several organisms (mostly Caenorhabditis elegans), in order to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which these events affect genome evolution.
  3. Origin and Evolution of the Genetic Code
    The genetic code determines which amino acid in the proteins corresponds to a determinate codon in the mRNAs. The aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are the enzymes that charge the tRNAs with the correct amino acids, thus they are the molecules responsible for translating the code. My main objective is to try to understand how these enzymes shaped the origin and early evolution of the code. I am also interested in understanding how some organisms use modified codes and what the evolutionary consequences of such modifications are.

Selected Publications

Ring, K.L.*, and A.R.O. Cavalcanti. 2008. Consequences of stop codon reassignment on protein evolution in ciliates with alternative genetic codes. Mol. Biol. Evol. 25: 179-186. [abstract]

Salim, H.M.W.*, K.L. Ring*, and A.R.O. Cavalcanti. 2008. Patterns of codon usage in two ciliates that reassign the genetic code: Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia. Protist 159: 283-298. [abstract]

Salim, H.M.W.*, and A.R.O. Cavalcanti. 2008. Factors influencing codon usage bias in genomes. J. Braz. Chem. Soc. 19: 257-261. [pdf [pdf] ]

Stover, N.A., M.S. Kaye*, and A.R.O. Cavalcanti. 2006. Quick Guide: Spliced leader trans-splicing. Curr Biol. 16: R8-R9. [article]

*Undergraduate co-author