Forging sustainability

Carlos Gravato

Carlos Gravato

Assistant Professor

  • Researcher ID: I-6496-2019
  • ORCID: 0000-0003-0562-6945
  • Ciencia ID: 1414-2BF3-C834
  • Department: FCUL
  • Research Group: Adaptation Biology & Ecological Processes (ABEP)
  • ISI Web of KnowledgeSM search factor: Gravato C* OR C* Gravato OR Carlos Gravato

Research interests

Animal Physiology
Cell Biology
Animal Behavior
Adaptation Biology

Academic degrees

PhD in Biology (2002). University of Aveiro, Portugal
MSc in Cell Biology (1999). University of Coimbra, Portugal
Degree in Biology (1995), University of Aveiro, Portugal

Scientific activities

Principal Researcher (2015-2017), DeBio and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Post-Doc Researcher (2013-2015), DeBio and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Young Talent Post-Doc Researcher (2013-2014), UFG, Brazil
Assistant Researcher (2008-2013), ICBAS and CIIMAR, University of Porto, Portugal
Post-Doc Researcher (2005-2008), ICBAS and CIIMAR, University of Porto, Portugal
Post-Doc Researcher (2002-2005), DeBio, University of Aveiro


Assistant Professor (current position since 2017), FCUL and CESAM, University of Lisbon
Invited Assitant Professor (2003-2006), DeBio and CESAM, University of Aveiro
Monitor (1996-1997), DeBio, University of Aveiro



ComPET - Ecotoxicological effects of microplastics on freshwater ecosystems See more

INSIDER - Impact of an invasive species under global climate change and anthropogenic contamination scenarios in coastal food webs See more

ALISSA - Healthy and sustainable food for aquaculture fish See more

Scientific Supervision

PhD (Main Supervisor): Sónia Beleza (ex-CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Ana Luísa Patrício Silva (CESAM member)

Master (Main Supervisor): Sónia Beleza Fernandes (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Maria João Cerqueira da Silva (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Marta Pena Fraga (not a CESAM member)

BTI - Mestre (Main Supervisor): Ana Rita Almeida (CESAM member)

BTI- Doutor (Main Supervisor): Ana Luísa Patrício Silva (CESAM member)

BTI - Mestre (Main Supervisor): Andreia do Carmo Martins Rodrigues (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Carlos J. M. Silva (CESAM member)

PhD (Co-supervisor): Cristiana Oliveira (ex-CESAM member)

PhD (Co-supervisor): Joana Reis Almeida (not a CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Virgília Sofia Silva (CESAM member)

Post-doc (Co-supervisor): Marcelino Miguel Oliveira (CESAM member)


  • “Behaviour as a sensitive and integrative approach that predicts the effects of environmental stressors in the aquatic environment: linking different levels of biological organization”. (2015-2020). (IF/011401/2014). Recent papers highlight that behavioural endpoints might be within the available tools to assess the status of aquatic environment filling the gap for the needed ecological relevance. Behaviour results from the integration of biochemical and physiological processes reflecting all changes in the health of organisms. Moreover, behavioural tests are non-invasive avoiding the sacrifice of animals, ecologically relevant, and simple, fast and cheap to perform. Despite these advantages several aspects were also pointed, namelly: I) biomarkers are not always able to predict effects on behaviour; II) behaviour was affected even without the link with the effects on other endpoints measured; III) results were not always predictable when trying to apply knowledge gained with one species to another or between chemicals. Thus, “is behaviour more sensitive than infra-individual tools?”; “Can behavioural endpoints predict effects at the population and community levels?”; “Why behavioural endpoints are not used to assess environmental quality?” This research plan, using an innovative and multidisciplinary approach, will analyse if behaviour is always affected by any environmental stressor independently of its mode of action and which are the infra-individual responses that are always linked with behavioural alterations. The main goals will be reached by linking animal behaviour with genomics and biochemistry. New biomarkers will explain why and how behaviour is affected. Therefore, they can be used and tested as early-warning tools to assess environmental quality in real scenarios of contamination. 

  • ALISSA - projeto de Investigação e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico – Empresas em Copromoção (PT 2020) com o tema “ALISSA – Bases para uma alimentação saudável e sustentável em peixes de aquacultura“ financiado por Fundos Europeus Estruturais e de Investimento (08/SI/2015) (2015-2018). The European Aquaculture faces great challenges, due to external competition and consumers demanding high quality products, environmental friendly and with competitive prices. Feeding is one of the major costs in fish production, representing usually 20-50% of operational costs. However, most commercial fish productions use non-optimised feeding regimes, resulting in poor feed conversion, additional feeding costs and environmental impacts. Feeding strategies are also strongly linked with an optimised nutrition, that provides an optimum growth (cost/benefit), with a minimum of waste (environmental impact) and allow optimal fish health. Meeting essential amino acids requirements, as well as knowledge on their metabolism, are particularly important. Furthermore, these requirements change in environmental stress, or disease situations. The central aim of the ALISSA project is to develop feed formuIations that promotes optimal nutritional and immune status, and within the parameters of economic and environmental sustainability in aquaculture fish. More specifically we intend to bring to market at the end of the project a highly innovative product, and two unique services with high added value: 1) A fish feed supplement range, allowing for fortifying specific amino acid contents, and enable optimum performance, and better resistance to pathogens, especially under stress conditions, as well as the recovery post-infection; 2) An improved computer application that simulates performance, biochemical composition, and environmental impacts in fish fed with different formulations and at different temperatures; 3) An evaluation service of nutritional and immune status of fish in aquaculture, based on molecular biomarkers, and depending on the aquafeeds employed. Two companies and seven research institutes are participating in the project, and in collaboration with potential distribution partners and customers, what strengthens the potential impact of this project on the European market.

  • “MINHO, MONDEGO, AND MIRA ESTUARIES observatory: Long term vaRiation of ECOLOGICAL sTAtus as a response to naturaL and human induced changes. Implications for management and restoration - 3M_RECITAL“ (LTER/BIA-BEC/0019/2009). 

  • “NISTRACKS – Factors contributing to different invasive behaviour of a non-indigenous species in two Portuguese estuaries and ecological impact on native key species.” (PTDC/AAC-AMB/102121/2008).

  • “RAMOCS – Implementation of Risk Assessment Methodologies for Oil and Chemical Spills in the European Marine Environment” (ERA-AMPERA/0001/2007).” – “European concerted action to foster prevention and best response to Accidental Marine Pollution – AMPERA” (ERAC-CT2005-016165) within the framework of the EU ERA-Net initiative (6th Framework Program).

  • “CRABTHEMES – Molecular, biochemical and genetic variability in estuarine populations of shore crab (Carcinus maenas) exposed to different levels of contamination.” (PTDC/MAR/71143/2006).

  • “Ecological and ecotoxicological effects of pesticides and pharmeceuticals of veterinary use on Daphnia magna” (Finnanced by the University of Porto, “Investigação Científica na Pré-Graduação: Projectos Pluridisciplinares”).

  • “CHOLINEOMANIA – Que tipo de contaminação por metais é eficazmente detectada pela colinesterase do camarão marinho Palaemon serratus?”(POCI/MAR/58244/2004).

  • “EELEANORA – Impact of the exposure to pollutants on the contribution of specific populations of the eel to the renewal European stock.” (POCTI/BSE/47918/2002).

  • “Biomarcadores bioquímicos, genotóxicos e morfológicos em espécies animais de vida aquática expostas a hidrocarbonetos policíclicos aromáticos e ácidos resínicos”. (Project PRAXIS XXI/PCNA/C/BIA/175/96).

  • “Transporte de Ca2+ por vesículas sinápticas: actividade, purificação e reconstituição do trocador Ca2+/H+”. (Project PBICT/P/BIA/2081/95).


Carlos Alexandre Sarabando Gravato graduated in Biology (1995, University of Aveiro), completed his Master degree in Cell Biology (1999, JNICT grant 1 year, University of Coimbra) and obtained his PhD degree in Biology (2002, FCT grant 4 years, University of Aveiro). He was a post-doc at the Department of Biology (2002-2005, FCT grant 3 years, University of Aveiro), invited professor at the Department of Biology (2003-2006, contract 50% with University of Aveiro), post-doc at the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research - CIIMAR (2005-2008, FCT grant 3 years, University of Porto), Assistant Researcher at CIIMAR (2008-2013, Ciência 2007, 5 years contract, CIIMAR, University of Porto). At the present, Gravato is Principal Researcher at CESAM (2015-2020, IF/1401/2014, 5 years contract, DeBio & CESAM, University of Aveiro). Before, he was a post-doc at University Federal of Goiás (2013-2014, Grant for Young Talent of CAPES, Brazil) in collaboration, as a post-doc, with the Department of Biology and CESAM (2013-2015, University of Aveiro).

Gravato has participated in 8 research projects funded by FCT and 1 European project. Gravato has an h-index of 24 and published 1 book chapter and more than 55 publications in international peer reviewed journals with over 1400 citations.He has more than 30 oral communications and 100 posters in international and national congresses. Gravato was chair (2010) or co-chair (2007 and 2008) of sessions of Annual Meetings of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry – SETAC Europe – and co-chair (2010) of a session of National Congress of Ecology.

The paper Almeida et al., 2012 (Chemosphere) was considered the best publication by SETAC Europe in ecotoxicology, ecoepidemiology and biological/biochemical studies in 2012 and 1st author received RifCon award in 2013. The paper Silva et al., 2013 (Marine Environmental Research) was in 10th in the Top 24 (more than 600 downloads or views) of the most downloaded papers in the journal Marine Environmental Research.

Gravato was member of the jury of 10 PhD (Universities of Aveiro, Murcia, Cádiz) and 6 Master (Universities of Porto and Aveiro) thesis defences. He supervised or co-supervised 3 Post-Docs (FCT 3 years grant), 4 PhDs (FCT 4 years grant/each), 7 Master students and was responsible for the training of 5 graduate students and 5 European PhD students.

Gravato has been working with biomarkers in several species (aquatic invertebrates, fish, birds, soil organisms, insects, corals, mammals), has performed training in molecular tools at the University of Antwerp (supervised by Prof. Wim De Coen) and has been studying the link of those tools with animal behavioural responses to stress induced by chemicals or abiotic factors (PAHs, heavy metals, pesticides, nanoparticles, temperature).

CESAM Funding: