Sara Rocha

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Postdoctoral Fellow @ Phylogenomics lab,   University of Vigo;



Departamento de Bioquímica, Genética e Inmunología, Universidad de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain



I have broad interests in the use of molecular data for evolutionary and ecological questions. I use phylogenies to understand processes that lead to genes, populations and species divergence. Most of my past work has focused on colonisation and diversification patterns of reptiles from Western Indian Ocean Islands (Madagascar, Comoros and the Seychelles).


I am now a postdoctoral fellow at the phylogenomics group at the University of Vigo, where I am collaborating on several projects related to phylogenomic and species-tree inference using closely related genomes generated using next-generation sequencing (NGS) data. Targets of my inferences have been multiplying: from mostly working with lizards, I went to mollusks, simulated data, and now both human and mollusk cancer both in this group and in collaboration with @genomes and diseases at the University of Santiago de Compostela.


I still keep a feet when possible in Seychelles’ herps, in collaboration with AP members at CIBIO-UP.


For Full Publications and Additional Info

@ Research Gate

@ Google Scholar

@ImpactStory [a really cool an open source, web-based tool that provides altmetrics to help researchers measure and share the impacts of all their research outputs]


@Publons [the record of my activity as a reviewer since 2013]



Science divulgation & Media


Our paper describing genome sequencing, assembly and annotation of the giant squid is out and because it’s such a fascinating creature has been getting a bit of attention: here’s a couple of pieces on it:


1) by Alex Ritcher-Bois (

2) the GigaScience blog:

3) DUVI and GCiencia (in galician):


(2017) Our local newspaper, Faro de Vigo, decided to give some coverage to my work: check it out here  :)

(2011) Here our “Giant Gecko” fieldwork getting some coverage in the Seychelles :) Paper is finally out, check bellow!


Check out this really cool project and book about evolution, where I collaborated. Freely available here - only portuguese and spanish, sorry!


I’ve collaborated with other divulgation and environmental education activities. We even made some cool guides small books. You may want to have a look here and here. Usually I was on the amphibians and reptiles group (the coolest!) :)


Selected Publications


da Fonseca R, Couto A, Machado A et al (including Rocha S(2020) A draft genome sequence of the elusive giant squid, Architeuthis dux.  GigaScience,

Data in GigaDB:


Blom MPK, Matzke, NJ, Bragg JG et al. (including Rocha S) (2019) Habitat preference modulates trans-oceanic dispersal in a terrestrial vertebrate. Proc R Soc B 286:20182575. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2575


Escalona M, Rocha S, Posada D. (2018) NGSphy: phylogenomic simulation of next-generation sequencing data. Bioinformatics, 34: 2506-2507. DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/bty146 (and


Vasconcelos R, Rocha S, Santos X (2017). Sharing refuges on arid islands: ecological and social influence on aggregation behaviour of wall geckos. PeerJ. DOI 10.7717/peerj.2802


Rocha S, Perera A, Bunbury N, Kaiser-Bunbury CN, Harris DJ (2016). Speciation history and species-delimitation within the Seychelles Bronze geckos, Ailuronyx spp.: molecular and morphological evidence. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, online early access. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12895


Ribeiro A, Foote A, Kupzoc A, Frazão B, Limborg MT, Piñeiro R, Abalde S, Rocha S, da Fonseca RR (2016). Marine genomics: news and views. Marine Genomics, online early access.


Escalona M, Rocha S, Posada D (2016). A comparison of tools for the simulation of genomic next-generation sequencing data. Nature Reviews Genetics doi:10.1038/nrg.2016.57


Freitas S, Rocha S, Campos J, Ahmadzadeh F, Corti C, Sillero N, Ilgaz Ç, Kumlutaş Y, Arakelyan M, Harris DJ, Carretero MA. (2016) Parthenogenesis through the Ice Ages: a biogeographic analysis of Caucasian rock lizards (genus Darevskia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 102: 117-127 (DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.05.035).


Rocha S, Perera A., Harris D.J., Silva A., Posada D. (2016)  Evolutionary history of Trachylepis skinks in the Seychelles islands: introgressive hybridization, morphological evolution and geographic structure. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 119: 15-36 (DOI: 10.1111/bij.12803)


Harris D.J., Perera A., Valente J., Rocha S. (2015) Deep genetic differentiation within Janetaescincus spp. (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Seychelles Islands. Herpetological Journal, 25: 205-213


Valente J, Rocha S., Harris D.J. (2014) Differentiation within the endemic burrowing skink Pamelaescincus gardineri, across the Seychelles islands, assessed by mitochondrial and nuclear markers. African Journal of Herpetology, 63: 25-33 (doi:10.1080/21564574.2013.856354)


Rocha S., Posada D., Harris D.J. (2013) Phylogeography and diversification history of day-gecko genus Phelsuma on the Seychelles islands. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 13:3 (online access)


Rocha S., Harris, D.J, Posada, D. (2011) Cryptic diversity within the endemic Prehensile-tailed gecko Urocotyledon inexpectata across the Seychelles Islands: patterns of phylogeographic structure and isolation at multilocus level. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society104, 177-191. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01710.x)


Catarina, P., Rocha, S., Carvalho, B. M., Lopes, S., Mourão, S., Vallinoto, M., Brunes, T.O., Haddad, C.F.B., Gonçalves, H., Sequeira, F., Ferrand, N. (2009) New primers for the amplification and sequencing of nuclear loci in a taxonomically wide set of reptiles and amphibians. Conservation Genetic Resourses2, 181-185. (DOI: 10.1007/s12686-009-9126-4)


Rocha S., Harris, D.J., Perera, A., Silva, A., Vasconcelos, R., Carretero, M.A. (2009) Recent data on the distribution of Lizards and Snakes of the Seychelles. Herpetological Bulletin, 110, 20-32. (publication site)


Rocha S., Vences M., Glaw F., Posada D., Harris, D.J. (2009) Multigene Phylogeny of Malagasy day geckos of the genus Phelsuma. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 52, 530-537. (doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.03.032)


Rocha S., Carretero M.A., Vences M., Glaw F., Harris D.J. (2006) Deciphering patterns of trans-oceanic dispersal: the Evolutionary Origin and Biogeography of coastal lizards (Cryptoblepharus) in the Western Indian Ocean region. Journal of Biogeography33, 13-22. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2005.01375.x)


Carretero, M. A., Harris, D. J., Rocha, S. (2005) Recent observations of reptiles in the Comoro islands (Western Indian Ocean). Herpetological Bulletin91, 19-28 (publication site)


Sequeira F., Alexandrino J., Rocha S., Arntzen J.W., Ferrand N. (2005) Genetic exchange across a hybrid within the Iberian golden-stiped salamander, Chioglossa lusitanicaMolecular Ecology, 14245-254. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02390.x)