marco pessoa is a biologist

internet | music | drumming | photography geek dad.

contact: marco [at]

about me

I'm a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a research scientist at Embrapa. This is the Brazilian governmental company dedicated to agricultural research.

I apply genomics to improve the use of plant genetic resources by breeding programs.

I got my PhD in Molecular Biology at Universidade de Brasília (UnB) in 2008, learning about drought tolerance in rice using genetics and genomics. Most of the projects I've been involved with are related to the characterization of plant genetic resources and their use in breeding programs, with the aid of molecular tools.

As a visiting scholar at UIUC, I am using marker-asssited introgression of insect resistance genes to soybeans adapted to Brazilian cultivation systems.

Before coming to UIUC, I started working on the development of genomic tools for ruzigrass (Brachiaria ruziziensis), an important forage crop in Brazil. We were able to develop the first set of microsatellite markers for the species using next-generation sequencing data, to learn how ruzigrass germplasm diversity is structured, and how it compares to the genetic diversity of populations commercialy available in Brazil.

Recently, I have also investigated soil microbial diversity using DNA sequence data. This included a survey on microbial community diversity and structure in heavy-metal rich soils in the Brazilian Cerrado.

You can see a list of my publications on this page, on Google Scholar, or my CV on the Lattes platform (a standard platform for Brazilian scientists).

On my spare time, music and photography are my hobbies. I post my photos on Flickr. Words are sometimes posted on Twitter, and I try to network on LinkedIn, and ResearchGate.