María Alejandra Alvarez


HHMI Research Associate


2016 - PhD in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, National University of San Martin, Argentina. Dissertation: Control of flowering time and spike development in wheat: positional cloning of the earliness per se gene Eps-Am1. Advisor: Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky. Co-advisor: Dr. Gabriela Tranquilli.

2008 - Master of Science in Biotechnology, National University of San Martin, Argentina. Dissertation: Assessment of genetic diversity in a cassava in vitro collection using molecular markers

2006 - Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology, National University of San Martin, Argentina



I'm a HHMI Research Associate currently working on the functional characterization of genes that control the response to photoperiod in wheat using genetics and molecular biology tools, such as mutagenesis, transgenesis, epistatic interaction studies, gene expression analysis, and detailed phenotypic evaluations. For my PhD dissertation, I carried out the positional cloning of a wheat gene that controls heading time and increases the number of spikelets and grains per spike, two major yield components. After identifying the causal gene, I was able to transfer the favorable alleles from einkorn wheat into commercially relevant pasta and bread wheat varieties from the UC Davis and CIMMYT breeding programs and test its effects in field trials. As a postdoctoral scholar, I continued working on the molecular dissection of spike yield components in wheat, studying and deploying genes that modulate grain size, grain number, and biomass accumulation.


Shaw LM*, Li C*, Woods DP*, Alvarez MA*, Lin H, Lau MY, et al. (2020) Epistatic interactions between PHOTOPERIOD1, CONSTANS1 and CONSTANS2 modulate the photoperiodic response in wheat. PLoS Genet 16(7): e1008812.

Kippes N, Guedira M, Lin L, Alvarez MA, Brown-Guedira GL, Dubcovsky (2018​) Single nucleotide polymorphisms in a regulatory site of VRN-A1 first intron are associated with differences in vernalization requirement in winter wheat.​ Mol Genet Genomics. 93: 1231.

Alvarez MA, Tranquilli G, Lewis S, Kippes N, Dubcovsky J (2016) Genetic and physical mapping of the earliness per se locus Eps-Am1 in Triticum monococcum identifies EARLY FLOWERING 3 (ELF3) as a candidate gene. Funct Integr Genomics

Maria A Alvarez, Sabrina M Costa Tartara, Carla M Arizio & Maria M Manifesto. 2014. Identification of cassava clones through molecular. Revista Ciencia y Tecnología de los Cultivos Industriales (ISSN 1853 -7677). Programa Nacional de Cultivos Industriales (Ed.). INTA. Año 4, Nº 6: 39-46

Manifesto MM, Costa Tártara SM, Arizio CM, Alvarez MA & Hompanera NR. 2010. Analysis of the morphological attributes of a sweetpotato collection. Annals of Applied Biology 157(2): 273-281

Manifesto MM, Arizio CM, Costa Tartara SM & Alvarez MA. 2010. Molecular Markers in Germplasm Banks: applications in collections of cassava, sweet potato and quinoa. Análisis de Semillas Nº 14, Vol. 2, Tomo IV