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Mónica Amorim: UA Researcher of the month


Mónica Amorim graduated in Biology (1997, Univ. Coimbra), MsC in Ecology (2000), and a PhD in Biology (2004, Univ. Aveiro, split grant between Portugal and Germany). During 2005-6 she worked partly in Belgium and in Portugal, since then as researcher in CESAM, UA.

She has established a new international recognised high profile area – ecotoxicogenomics (less than 10 labs in the world) forming her own group, presently comprised by 9 researchers (6 PhD and 3 Post-Docs, all fully funded by FCT or EU, plus MsC and degree students). She already completed the supervision of 4 PhDs, 2 Post-Doc, 5 MsCs and several degree students.

Major scientific achievements include high throughput tools based on the transcriptome assembly for soil ecotoxicology model species (Enchytraeus crypticus) i.e. microarray platform [such tools are only available for 2 other soil and 3 aquatic ecotox species]. No such genomic tools were available for soil species, hence this represents a major step forward and with results in terms of understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms to stress. Other molecular tools were also developed e.g. cellular energy allocation, lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, oxidative stress biomarkers. These are crucial tools to link responses at various levels of organization towards a systems biology approach.

Besides the science activities she has been active in general international promotion of environmental sciences. She was SETAC Europe president (2014-15), the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is probably the largest worldwide ecotoxicology society (>6000 members); chaired the SETAC Soil Advisory Group (2005-12); coordinates the Post-Graduation course "Practical approach to ecotoxicogenomics" since 2007-14; has been invited to evaluate grants (e.g. from FCT) and project proposals.

More details in: http://www.ua.pt/research/page/21170

Dr. Mónica Amorim
Department of Biology & CESAM
Universidade de Aveiro
Campus Universitário de Santiago
3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal

Sunlight destroys antibiotic in marine aquaculture waters - Research from Department of Chemistry and CESAM


It is called oxytetracycline (OTC) and is one of the antibiotics used in aquaculture to combat a wide variety of infections in fish. If until now the respective removal is made using the diffusion of ozone in the water - an expensive method, inefficient and hazardous compounds generator to health when it comes to saltwater - a team of researchers from UA found that, alternatively, the antibiotic can be effectively destroyed with a simple and free resource: sunlight.

The use of antibiotics in national aquaculture has been decreasing in recent years (OTC is one of the few antibiotics authorized in the country for use in aquaculture), and producers are increasingly opting for preventive measures such as vaccination. However, throughout the world there are countries where the use of antibiotics is not as upper and controlled, which, according to the researchers, "increases the potential application of the method" proposed by UA.

The work was conducted by PhD student Joanna Leal, under the supervision of Valdemar Esteves and Eduarda Santos, and published in the latest issue of Environmental Pollution, a publication of Elsevier which is a world reference in the field of chemistry applied.

More information: http://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/deta.....mp;c=46118


Ecosystem services provided by wetlands: Anthropogenic impacts and Environmental chemistry


Advanced Workshop

May 2-6, 2016

This one‐week post‐graduate workshop aims to provide knowledge on the environmental biogeochemical processes supporting the Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by wetlands. Moreover, emphasis will be put on ES assessment endpoints for Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) and also on wetlands management and restoration. The course is addressed to PhD students with a background in Biology, Natural and Environmental Sciences, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Engineering or Ecology.

Coordinator: Ana I. Lillebø (DBio & CESAM)

Lecture topics
• Types of wetlands, ES & Human well­‐being
• Biogeochemical processes supporting wetland ES
• ES assessment endpoints for Ecological Risk Assessment
• Multiple stressors affecting wetlands ES
• Wetlands management and restoration

João Carvalho, UA Biologist, published in Nature an alert for invasive species


João Carvalho, PhD student at Wildlife Unit of the Department of Biology and CESAM, in collaboration with a group of researchers from the University of Porto (UP), published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Nature one article that exposes the inertia of the European Union face with alien species and alert to the need for cross-border cooperation in the control of wasp-Asian.

"The number of alien species identified in the European territory exceeds currently the thousands," says João Carvalho. One of the most publicized cases is the wasp-Asian (Vespa velutina nigrithorax). "This species currently occupies a significant area of ​​the Mediterranean Basin, a recognized biodiversity hotspot. Its potential ecological impacts are already recognized by the scientific community. In areas where beekeeping is assumed as an important source of income, the economic impacts of the Asian wasp may be especially severe, "says the researcher.

The authors stress the importance of environmental awareness as a tool for conservation of other pollinating insects. The widespread fear of beekeepers and the consequent indiscriminate use of some selective traps are factors that can determine the decline of many other species of pollinators.

The article can be found via the link: http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....2177b.html

More information: https://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/detail.asp?c=46087

CESAM research invited to organize the British Ornithologists’ Union annual conference in 2017.


Dr. José Alves, CESAM (DBio/UA) member since 2013, is one of the organizers of BOU’s annual conference: “From avian tracking to population processes”. The organizing team is composed by researchers from three other institutions: University of East Anglia (UK), University of Iceland and Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK), whom will bring together ornithologists and ecologists from academic and conservation organisations, to explore how tracking individuals can help to address key questions about population processes and their implications for conservation and management.

Given recent technological breakthroughs in miniaturization, animal tracking has become widespread with incredible new patterns being discovered in recent years. For example, the continuous flight of a migratory wader between Alaska and New Zeeland, traveling 11 000 km without stopping to rest, feed or hydrate. GPS tracking devices can be as light as 5 grams allowing to follow individuals of many species. This conference aims to go beyond patterns and focus on their consequences. Several topics will be covered, including:

Dispersal and settlement decisions, trade-offs and fitness consequences
Demography and carry-over effects
Population dynamics and migratory connectivity
Evolution and ontogeny of movement and migration strategies
Conservation and management implications of movement behaviour

The British Ornithologists’s Union (BOU), founded in 1858 is one of the world's oldest and most respected ornithological organisations with an international membership stretching all continents. Under its motto “Advancing Ornithology”, it organizes themed conferences, provides research grants (particularly for Early Career Researchers) and publishes the highest ranking scientific journal in the field, IBIS.

http://www.bou.org.uk/conferen.....017/ />

Bacteria discovered by the UA in radioactive sludge has the potential medicine


It is not just a new bacterial species discovered by an investigating team from the University of Aveiro (UA). The NL19 is a 'super' bacteria that survive in extreme environments, such as the former uranium mine Quinta do Bispo, in Viseu, where it was identified. Isolated from sludge with high concentrations of radioactive metals, UA scientists have discovered that NL19 produces antibacterial that can be used in medicine, veterinary and food industry. The study concerning how this bacterium can be used by the man in the production of other bioactive compounds is already in progress.

Baptized by Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory team (LBM) from Department of Biology with the scientific name Pedobacter portucalensis, a new species of the genus Pedobacter, the discovery of NL19 rests like a glove to one of the group's goals: study and discovery of microorganisms able to help Science in the production of new antibacterials.

In addition to the characterization of antibacterial produced by this new bacterium is also ongoing evaluation of the important biotechnological potential that the microorganism has as a producer of antifungals, antivirals and anticancer, and other bioactive compounds. The work is being developed by PhD student Claudia Covas and with the collaboration of the postdoctoral researcher Tania Caetano and Pedro Domingues, researcher from Department of Chemistry at UA.

More information: http://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/deta.....

Researcher of CESAM will participate and co -chair two thematic sessions on MSEAS 2016 conference


Dr. Cristina Pita, Researcher of CESAM, will participate in MSEAS Conference 2016 (Understanding marine social- ecological systems: including the human dimension in the ecosystem Ratings Integrated), held in Breste (France) from 30 May to 3 June) and co-chair two Thematic Sessions.

The conference MSEAS addresses the theme of Integration and Multiple Evaluation OSU THE SEA, including: fishing, Renewable Energy, Coastal Development, Oil and Gas, Transportation and Conservation. A special emphasis will be given to methodological and empirical challenges involved in the inclusion of human dimensions in ecosystem integrated assessment. The conference has a global character, with special focus on regions that have developed Integrated Management Policies for the sea in recent decades.


Dr. Pita chairs the thematic sessions:

A : Identifying needs for managing multiple ocean use sectors  – policy, management and industry needs
This theme session will seek to identify the needs that arise from current and projected policy, management and industry developments in the marine domain. 

D:  Participatory assessment processes: opportunities and challenges
Theme session D will investigate how the ways in which integrated (socio-ecological) assessments are/can be included in decision-making processes may determine the use/usefulness of the tools/information provided.

Viruses can replace antibiotics in fighting pathogenic bacteria - Research of Applied Microbiology and Environmental Laboratory at UA


It is one of the cause of urinary infections. The bacteria is called Enterobacter cloacae, and until now has been controlled by use of antibiotics. But the prescription can come to change. A team of researchers at the University of Aveiro (UA) managed to eliminate these bacteria with use of phage therapy. Harmless to human beings and cheaper to apply than antibacterials, this therapy uses the action of specific virus that only destroy the bacteria. The work opens the door to a future where the harmful bacteria to human health, many of which resistant to antibiotics, can be disposed of quickly, effectively and without side effects.

"Our research proves that cloacae Enterobacter, one of the bacteria most frequently responsible for urinary infections, can be inactivated by phages [virus that only destroy bacteria and are harmless to human health]," said Adelaide Almeida, Researcher at the Laboratory Applied and Environmental Microbiology of UA and CESAM and coordinator of the work published in the last issue of Virus Research.

More information: http://uaonline.ua.pt/pub/detail.asp?c=45818          

Fatima Lopes Alves, Professor at DAO / UA selected as 'expert' to collaborate on study of the European Commission on Marine Protected Areas in the Atlantic Area


Fatima Lopes Alves, Professor in the Department of Environment and Planning (DAO) at UA and CESAM Researcher, was invited to join the team of 'Experts' in the European Commission study on 'Cooperation between North and South - the transatlantic dimension of Protected Marine Areas' (Cooperation with Northern and Southern Transatlantic Dimension - Protected Marine Areas).

The European Commission has set up a new project to promote cooperation between managers of Protected Marine Areas (PMAs) in the countries of the Atlantic Basin. The study will take place over two years and aims to stimulate the exchange and sharing of good management practices, to improve the effective management of PMAs in coastal areas and offshore Atlantic space. This project aims to promote a broader transatlantic cooperation, centred on a new, comprehensive concept of 'Atlanticism', resulting from the growing importance of Africa and Latin America as key actors in the Atlantic space. The European Union is strongly committed to promoting this broader approach in the transatlantic dialogue, and selected the PMA as a pilot study of this new initiative of the European environmental policy. The project will also contribute to the EU's commitments in the fight against global loss of biodiversity, support for adaptation to climate change, and meet the EU's internal policies on the environment, regional cooperation and maritime dimension. The project will contribute to a strategic approach to EU (Atlantic Basin), in relations between the North-South and South-South.