I research the genetic mechanisms that underlie inter- and intra-species morphological variation, with a focus on organ scaling and stemness control. I employ well established vertebrate models, in vitro cell culture, genomic data and functional genetic tools to study the molecular mechanisms that regulate morphology to better understand how genes and their regulatory landscapes contribute to morphological diversity, adaptation and evolution.

Related Projects


  • 2021, João P. L. Castro, Vanessa Beviano, Joana Leitao-Castro, Francisco Cadete, Miguel Francisco, Renata Freitas. Hoxd13/Bmp2-mediated mechanism involved in zebrafish finfold design, Scientific Reports, Nature

  • 2019, João P. L. Castro, Michelle N. Yancoskie, Marta Marchini, Stefanie Belohlavy, Layla Hiramatsu, Marek Kučka, William H. Beluch, Ronald Naumann, Isabella Skuplik, John Cobb, Nicholas H. Barton, Campbell Rolian+, Yingguang Frank Chan+. (*co-first authorship; +co-last authorship). An integrative genomic analysis of the Longshanks selection experiment for longer limbs in mice, eLIFE.

  • 2018, Stefano Lazzarano, Marek Kučka, João P. L. Castro, Ronald Naumann, Paloma Medina, Michael N. C. Fletcher, Rebecka Wombacher, Joost Gribnau, Tino Hochepied, Marc Van Montagu, Claude Libert, and Yingguang Frank Chan. Genetic mapping of species differences via in vitro crosses in mouse embryonic stem cells, PNAS.

  • 2016, João P. L. Castro, Vanessa Beviano, Pedro Nuno Rodrigues, Renata Freitas. HoxA Genes and the Fin-to-Limb Transition in Vertebrates, Journal of Developmental Biology.

  • 2015, Susana Meles, Filomena Adega, João P. L. Castro, Raquel Chaves. Cytogenetic Assessment of the Rat Cell Line CLS-ACI-1: An in vitro Cell Model for Mycn Overexpression, Cytogenetic and Genome Research.

  • 2014, João P. L. Castro, Pedro Nuno Rodrigues, Renata Freitas. Hox gene regulation in vertebrates, Trends in Developmental Biology.

Updated: 2022