The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
(023) 8059 9006

Dr Fernando Calahorro BSc, MSc, PhD

Research Fellow in C. elegans genetics and chemical biology

Dr Fernando Calahorro's photo
Related links

As neurobiologist, Dr Fernando Calahorro is interested in animal behavioural plasticity which has led him to focus on neuroligin and neurexin, two synaptic proteins that appear essential in integrating sensory input in order to produce appropriate behavioural output and which are disrupted in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). He collaborates with Professor Holden-Dye and Professor O’Connor, and has shown an evolutionary conservation of the neuroligin-neurexin axis from the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans through to human. This may extend to functional conservation of a core synaptic code that is implemented to organise animal behaviour. As the C. elegans nervous system is built on the same principles as the human it provides a genetically and behaviourally tractable model to study neurexin/neuroligin with potential relevance to ASD.


Career History

2015: Wessex Medical Research. Innovation Grant.
2014-present: Research Fellow. SoNG-Southampton Neuroscience Group, University of Southampton, UK.
2014-2014: Postdoctoral Research Fellow of International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). SoNG-Southampton Neuroscience Group, UK.
2013-2014: Postdoctoral Researcher Fellow of Regional Ministry of Health of the Government of Andalusia. Spain.
2011-2013: Postdoctoral Researcher. Department of Genetics, IMIBIC-Maimonides Institute of Biomedical Research of Cordoba, Spain.

Academic Qualifications

2009-2011: PhD in Biology. Genetics of Autism: Caenorhabditis elegans as an experimental tool in the study of neuronal synaptic function. University of Cordoba, Spain.
2007-2009: Master in Molecular, Cellular Biology and Genetics.
2003-2006: BSc in Biological Sciences. University of Cordoba, Spain.




Research interests

- C. elegans synapse as a model in synaptophaties.
- Neuroligin/neurexin trans-synaptic modelling.
- Molecular Genetics of Autism.

The synaptopathies are responsible for complex disorders like schizophrenia and autism and emerge in the brain when individual genes are disrupted. Within these genes are neuroligins (NLGNs) and neurexins (NRXNs).

Location of neuroligin and neurexin at the synapse
Location of neuroligin and neurexin

Neuroligins are cell adhesion proteins that interact with neurexins at the synapse. This interaction may contribute to differentiation, plasticity and specificity of synapses. In humans, single mutations in neuroligin-encoding genes lead to autism spectrum disorder and/or mental retardation. And some copy number variations and point mutations in neurexin-encoding genes have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders including autism.

The principal aim in my research is to leverage understanding in this field, using the simple brain of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (approximately six thousand synapses). Taking advance of the model organism’s nervous system, that it is built on the same principles as the human brain, we can elucidate the neuronal function of these proteins.

Research group

Biomedical Sciences

Affiliate research group

Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)


Dr Fernando Calahorro
Biological Sciences
Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number:85/3041

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.