Eugenia M. Del Pino

Ph. D., Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., 1972.

School of Biological Sciences
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador
12 de Octubre entre Patria y Veintimilla
Apartado 17-01-2184
Quito, Ecuador

"Transformations in developmental biology by using a non-model amphibian: the ecuadorean marsupial frog"


Professor Eugenia M. del Pino is a scientist, educator, and conservationist. She was born in Quito and is currently a Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. Her research is focused in the study of development in non-model amphibians, in particular the development of the marsupial frog Gastrotheca riobambae and of the dendrobatid frog Colostethus machalilla. Her most relevant work has derived from the comparison of G. riobambae development with Xenopus development. Gastrotheca riobambae is a marsupial hylid frog that incubates its embryos within a dorsal pouch in females. She compared features of development in about 40 species of marsupial hylid frogs where she found several of them to contain multinucleated previtellogenic oocytes. This suggests a different strategy for the accumulation of transcripts and ribosomes in the oocytes of these frogs. In the marsupial frog G. riobambae she identified highly modified patterns of gastrulation that results in the formation of an embryonic disk. The embryo arises from this disk of cells. This is the most derived pattern of gastrulation in frogs. Some of her more recent work includes an expression survey of the lamina associated polypeptide 2 (LAP2), a protein important for cell replication, in a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and fish. The highly conserved LAP2 family has also conserved patterns of expression. An oocyte-specific LAP2 isoform occurs in frog and fish. Using this feature as a molecular marker, she studied the gonadal differention in the males of the toad Bufo marinus, that contains an ovarian structure, also known as Bidder’s organ, anterior to the testis. She and her co-worker Federico Brown demonstrated that the expression of LAP2 in the Bidder’s organ is equivalent with that of the ovary. Currently, she is studying the development of dendrobatid poison dart frogs, which are interesting as alternative non-model amphibians due to their small size, ease of laboratory care and reproduction in captivity. She and her co-workers provided the first detailed description of development in a dendrobatid frog, Colostethus machalilla. The development of this frog is slow, many developmental events are retarded in comparison with X. laevis, and bear resemblance to the developmental features of the marsupial frog Gastrotheca riobambae. Immediately upon completion of her PhD degree from Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA, Dr. del Pino returned to Ecuador and began her professional activities in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. Since then she has pioneered as an educator of Developmental Biology in Ecuador and Latin America. Her involvement as conservationist of the Galápagos Islands started in 1973 when she was asked to select students for a newly established fellowship program of the Charles Darwin Research Foundation for the Galápagos Islands. Since then she has been actively involved as a member and vice-president for the Charles Darwin Foundation. Her work and dedication have been recognized by several prizes and awards, including the TWAS Medal Lectures (2005), Sheth Distinguished International Emory Alumni Award (2003), and the “Pluma de la Dignidad” Award from the National Association of Journalists (Unión Nacional de Periodistas) from Ecuador (2003), and the L'Oréal/ UNESCO Prize for Women in Science for Latin America (2000). She is the sole member from Ecuador in the Latin American Academy of Sciences (since 1987), and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS, since 1989).

Selected Publications

del Pino E. M., Humphries Jr. A. A. (1978). Multinucleate oogenesis in Flectonotus pygmaeus and other marsupial frogs. Biological Bulletin (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts) 154: 198 212

del Pino E. M., Escobar B. (1981). Embryonic stages of Gastrotheca riobambae (Fowler) during maternal incubation and comparison of development with that of other egg brooding hylid frogs. Journal of Morphology 167: 277 295

Macgregor H. C., del Pino E. M. (1982). Ribosomal gene amplification in multinucleate oocytes of the egg brooding hylid frog Flectonotus pygmaeus. Chromosoma 85: 474 488

del Pino E. M., Elinson R. P. (1983). Gastrulation produces an embryonic disc, a novel developmental pattern for frogs. Nature 306: 589 591

Elinson R. P., del Pino E. M. (1985). Cleavage and gastrulation in the egg brooding, marsupial frog, Gastrotheca riobambae. Journal of Embryology and experimental Morphology 90: 223-232

del Pino, E. M., Murphy, C., Masson, P., Gall, J. G. (1992).The 5S rRNA-encoding genes of the marsupial frog Gastrotheca riobambae. Gene 111: 235-238

del Pino, E. M. (1996). The expression of Brachyury (T) during gastrulation in the marsupial frog Gastrotheca riobambae. Developmental Biology 177: 64-72

del Pino, E. M., Medina, A. (1998). Neural Development in the marsupial frog Gastrotheca riobambae. International Journal of Developmental Biology 42: 723-731 (The cover of this issue shows an embryo of Gastrotheca riobambae).

del Pino, E. M., Sáenz, F. E., Pérez, O. D., Brown, F. D., Ávila, M.-E., Barragán, V. A., Haddad, N., Paulin-Levasseur, M., Krohne, G. (2002). LAP2 (Lamina-associated polypeptide 2) expression in fish and amphibians. International Journal of Developmental Biology 46: 327-334

Brown, F. D., del Pino, E. M., Krohne, G. (2002). The Bidder’s organ in the toad Bufo marinus: effects of orchidectomy on the morphology and expression of lamina-associated polypeptide 2. Development Growth and Differentiation 44: 527-535 (The cover of this issue shows the testis and bidderian oocytes of Bufo marinus).

Benítez, M.-S., del Pino, E. M. (2002). The expression of Brachyury during development of the dendrobatid frog Colostethus machalilla. Developmental Dynamics 225: 592-596

del Pino, E. M., Ávila, M. E., Pérez, o. D., Benítez, M. S., Alarcón, I., Noboa, V., Moya, I. M. (2004). Development of the dendrobatid frog Colostethus machalilla. International Journal of Developmental Biology. 48: 663-670.