New Portal! At final development & testing stage by September, since July.

Sónia Mendo

Sónia Mendo

Assistant Professor with Habilitation

  • Department: Biology
  • Research Group: Stress Biology
  • ISI Web of KnowledgeSM search factor : Author=(Mendo S) AND Address=(Aveiro)

Researcher ID


OTHER ACTIVITIES ( Organization of scientific events)

XIII Congresso Ibérico de Citometria de Fluxo (SIC), 9 - 11 may 2013

Member of the organizing committee of Congresso Nacional de Microbiologia e Biotecnologia, 6 - 8 december 2013.


Interdisciplinary Symposium BIOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS: from molecular to community level, September 2-4, 2009 Aveiro University, Portugal

  • TOPICS: 1. BACTERIAL RESPONSES  Pollutant degradation  Resistance to chemicals 2. EUKARYOTIC RESPONSES  Response to contaminants in animals INVITED SPEAKERS JI-DONG GU, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong CHIEH-CHEN HUANG, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan KORNELIA SMALLA, Federal Biological Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA), Germany MARKO VIRTA, University of Helsinki, Finland HISATO IWATA, Ehime University, Japan NEWTON GOMES, Aveiro University, Portugal RUTH PEREIRA, Aveiro University, Portugal ISABEL HENRIQUES, Aveiro University, Portugal CORINA CIOCAN, University of Sussex, UK J.M.RUIZ, University of la Coruna, Spain



  • 77 national and international researchers from Spain,UK, Finland, France, Germany and Japan, participarted at the event.


  • MAIN RESULTS: Isolation, identification and characterization of TBT resistant/tolerant culturable bacteria A significant difference was observed between isolates belonging to the same genera. No significant correlation between strains isolated from a more polluted area (water) and strains collected at the less polluted area (sediment). Medium-organometal interactions may affect metal toxicities. Despite the heterogeneity Gram negative and are generally more resistant to TBT. Memory response to TBT exposure We proposed the existence of a ‘memory response’ mechanism to TBT/toxicant exposure. Nonetheless, the relation between the ‘memory response’ to TBT concentration and the resistant bacteria on a given natural environment could not be made as other factors (presence of other toxic compounds) could influence the ‘memory’ mechanism response. A. molluscorum Av27 was selected for a series of studies due to its high TBT resistance and also to the ability to degrade it to lesser toxic compounds (DBT and MBT). TBT microbial community-level toxicity and degradation DGGE (37-65%) analysis of microcosm communities showed that the time interval applied to autoclaved samples was not enough to eliminate all the bacteria present. Possibly, sporulating/slow growing anaerobic bacteria were not destroyed and were able to grow after some time of incubation. Also the organic matter present in the microcosm could protect some of bacteria, as growth was detected after 30 days of incubation. The TBT concentration used seems to be lethal to some bacteria after 5 days, as a decrease of the bacterial community was observed (samples 7, 8 and 22, 23). However, after 30 days, the community recovered, maybe due to the lower concentration of TBT due to its degradation by bacteria that were still present. The addition of Av27 did not seem to have an impact, maybe because A. molluscorum is already part of the original (microcosm) community, and possibly is not a dominant bacteria in that environment. Characterization of bacterial abundance, viability, activity and functional diversity Bacterial viability analysis showed that TBT has influence on cells as they were smaller and appeared aggregated. This could be explained as an energy saving mechanism exhibited by the bacteria when exposed to TBT for long periods. Despite their resistance to TBT, bacteria cells are growing under stress conditions, due to the scarcity of nutrients. Other experimental results suggested that in TSB (rich) medium the cells can have a better performance, meaning that maybe the components of the medium can protect the cell to TBT exposition, by chelating TBT from the environment were cells are growing. TBT degradation Degradation of TBT in DBT occurred under laboratory conditions by A. molluscorum Av27, after 24 h in MB medium. Also, it seems that it is gradually exported, as DBT, after degradation inside the cell. This possibility was not proved yet due to some technical problems. Despite the debutylation of TBT results in less lipophilic compounds, due to cell activity, it appears that these compounds are still bound to the cell membrane lipids. The TBT degradation was compared when Av27 was growing in TSB (rich medium) and in MB. Results, demonstrated a higher degradation in MB medium suggesting that the rich medium does not promote an increase on TBT degradation. However, metabolic activity determinations suggested that TSB protects the cells from the TBT toxicity. Isolation and characterization of the genes involved in TBT resistance TBT resistance seems to be related with a gene that has high homology with sugE gene. RT-PCR and real time PCR analysis showed an increased expression of this gene, as revealed by an increase of the mRNA level when cells are grown in increasing TBT concentrations. This gene is part of the “small multidrug resistance family” (SMR) that has been described as being involved in the efflux of lipophilic drugs. It seems apparent that SugE-like protein plays a role in the transport of TBT, DBT or MBT outside or inside the bacterial cell, this mechanism is not elucidated yet. Total proteins analysis from cells of clone 69 growing in the presence of TBT, revealed that a protein of ~ 11 kDa is overexpressed. This protein could be related to the sugE (encoded on ORF P6). Other proteins are also overexpressed, 2 of those were identified as outer membrane proteins that could be related with the influx and efflux of TBT and also with its degradation products( DBT and MBT) from or into the cell. Another protein, ~ 57 kDa, was identified: groEL protein. This protein is a chaperonin with a major role on the renaturation of proteins, restoring its functional activity at the expense of ATP seems to be overexpressed due to TBT. TBT resistance: is the same resistance mechanism shared by other Aeromonas spp.? The same gene was found in bacteria of the same species. However different mechanism(s) might be responsible for TBT resistance in other Aeromonas spp.


  • ABSTRACT: The main objective of this project is to study and understand the behaviour and the mechanisms behind TBT resistance by marine estuarine bacteria. The approach will include the isolation of culturable marine bacterial isolates that will allow for the detection and isolation of the genes involved in TBT resistance. Additionally bacterial communities will also be studied as they constitute the base of aquatic food webs and are responsible for the bulk of organic matter transformations and mineral recycling in aquatic environments. Also, due to the various sensitivities of different microorganisms to toxic chemicals and the dominance of highly diverse microbes in natural environments and, bacterial community responses to the toxic effect of TBT will also be analyzed. Specific objectives are related and constitute specific work tasks: i) Isolation, identification and characterization of TBT resistant/tolerant culturable bacteria A from where a collection of TBT resistant/tolerant bacteria will be selected for further studies ii) Microbial community-level toxicity testing where community-level toxicity testing of chemicals should supplement single-species laboratory assays when testing potential harmful chemicals like TBTs, iii) Characterization of bacterial abundance, viability, activity and functional diversity designed to compare bacterial density, viability, activity and functional diversity of bacterial communities in coastal waters in order to evaluate the effect of TBT on bacterial metabolism, iv) TBT degradation assay to demonstrate the mechanism behind TBT resistance/tolerance by marine bacteria and v) Isolation and characterization of the genes involved in TBT resistance. It is well known that isolation and culturing techniques miss out a large part of the bacterial community. Therefore the use of molecular techniques will enable us to select interesting organisms for a future construction of microbial consortia with TBT degrading capabilities. The proposed study will allow for the isolation of the encoded TBT resistance genes in marine bacteria that is of extreme importance for future research.


  • J0013655185


  • Scientific Supervisor of more than 30 MSc students and 6 PhD (all concluded)

  • Presently supervising, 2 Post Dc, 3 PhD and 5 MSc students.



  • Projecto Icentro: Redução do teor de sulforoso de vinhos. Funded by IC-01-01_FDR-0153 (Mar 2008-Jun 2009)

  • Projecto QREN : "WineSulFree" - Avaliação de tecnologias que permitam a redução do teor de sulfitos dos vinhos -Financiado pelo QREN - SI I&DT Co-Promoção (projecto nº3462), Agosto de 2009-2011).

  • WineSulFree - Establishment of the scientific basis for the development of new technologies to substitute sulphur dioxide in wine. Projectos I&D PTDC/AGR-ALI/101251/2008

  • Projecto Sal do Atlântico: "Revalorização da identidade das salinas do atlântico. Recuperação e promoção do potencial biológico, económico e cultural das zonas húmidas costeiras" (Programa comunitário de apoio Interreg III B Espaço Atlântico) (2004-2007)

  • Diferenciação Genética e morfológica em organismos estuarinos com padrões de dispersão contrastantes ao longo de um gradiente geográfico. Projecto POCTI/BSE/45672/2002 (2003-2006); Projecto de I&D da Universidade de Aveiro, Abordagem molecular para despistagem de bactérias patogénicas, OE (2003-2005)

  • Conservação e valorização dos recursos genéticos de pomóideas regionais. Projecto do Programa AGRO; Medida 8-Desenvolvimento Tecnológico e Demonstração; Acção 8.1- Desenvolvimento Experimental e Demonstração - DE&D (2001-2004)

  • Projecto REI- Ensaios de reflorestação da Ilha de Porto Santo usando plantas autócnes regeneradas in vitro e adaptadas a stress hídrico, PNAT/1999/AGR/15011 (2000-2004); Estudo da função de uma alteração ao código genético na evolução de novos fenótipos em Candida albicans, Projecto Praxis/P/BIA/1139/1998 (1999- 2001).


  • Isolation and caracterisation of the genes involved in tributyltin (TBT) in marine bacteria. POCI/MAR/56475/2004, started in October, 2005; Total Budget: 54K€.

  • TBTRESENSE - Bioremediation of TBT development of a biosensor system to detect TBT form contaminates sites (PTDC/MAR/108024/2008); started in April, 2005; Total Budget: 176K€

  • ENGENUR: Definition of new endpoints to assess and discriminate genotoxic effects resulting from environmental exposures to uranium, uranium daughter radionuclides and ionizing radiation in bioindicator species. Projecto PTDC/AAC-AMB/114057/2009. 172.944 €; Janeiro 2011-Janeiro 2013.Total Budget: 173K€


  • Assistant Professor with Habilitation, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (since 2013)

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (since 1999)

  • Chaiman of the board of equivalences of the Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (since 2004)

  • Coordinator of the MSc Degree in Molecular Microbiology, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (3rd to 5th editions)

  • Committee Member of the  of the MSc in Microbiology, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (since 2007)

  • Director of the MSc in MIcrobiology, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (since September 2011)

  • National coordinator of COST (CM0804), Chemical Biology with Natural Products

Habilitation in Biology

  • BSc Honours in Microbiology (1989), University of Kent, Caterbury, UK; 

  • PhD in Biology – Microbial Biotechnology (1998), Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon;

  • Habilitation in BIology (January 2013)


Scopus Author ID: 6505928827:


Google Scholar:

Researcher ID:

  • Search for new antimicrobials: Lantibiotics and traditional antibiotics;

  • Resistance mechanisms to xenobiotics in bacteria;

  • Genotoxicity studies in vertebrates and invertebrates exposed to environmental contaminants.

Born in Lobito, Angola, 16th December 1962. Married, two children. BSc in Microbiology (1989) University of Kent at Canterbury, UK. Ph.D. (1998) in Biology -Microbial Biotechnology, University of Lisbon. Habilitation (2013), University of Aveiro. Since 2000, Assistant Professor at Biology Department of the University of Aveiro. 

Scientific Supervision

In progress (3)
PhD (Main Supervisor): Joana Barbosa (CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Joana Isabel do Vale Lourenço (CESAM member)

Post-doc (Co-supervisor): Anabela Cachada (CESAM member)

Concluded (19)
Master (Main Supervisor): Ana Teresa Viana (not a CESAM member)

Master (Main Supervisor): Beatriz Almeida (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Hugo Costa (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Beatriz Almeida (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Ana Sofia Vaz (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Ana Sofia Vaz (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Hugo Costa (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Ana Teresa Viana (not a CESAM member)

Master (Co-supervisor): Bárbara Branco (not a CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Sonia Pascoal (ex-CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Tânia Caetano (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Cátia Raquel Talhas Santos (ex-CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Andreia Cruz (ex-CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Joana Isabel do Vale Lourenço (CESAM member)

PhD (Main Supervisor): Cláudia de Jesus Fernandes Covas (CESAM member)

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

PhD (Main Supervisor): Cátia Raquel Talhas Santos (ex-CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Andreia Cruz (ex-CESAM member)

Post-doc (Main Supervisor): Tânia Caetano (CESAM member)


In progress (1)
NANOpartículas poliméricas BIogénicas funcionalizadas para adsorção de metais em aplicações amigas do ambiente: bioREmediação e bioSensores See more

Concluded (10)
Coli4Lan - Better systems to produce two ­peptide lantibiotics with diverse structures completely in vivo using Escherichia coli and establishment of their mode of action. See more

REpulse- Responses of Daphnia magna exposed to chemical pulses and mixtures throughout generations See more

ECOAPPROACH - Bridging the gap between metal contamination and ecologically significant effects on macrobenthic communities: a multidisciplinary approach from gene to community See more

ENGENUR - Definition of new ENdpoints to assess and discriminate GENotoxic effects resulting from environmental exposures See more

TBTRESENSE: Tributiyltin (TBT) bioremediation and development of a biosensor to detect TBT from contaminated sites. See more

Remediation Processes in uranium and other mining areas See more

CAPTAR-Science and Environment for All See more

Isolation and Characterization of the genes involved in TBT resistance in marine bacteria See more

Ecological risk assessment on the use of boat antifouling paints with organometallic and metallic biocides at the Portuguese coast (ECOBOAT) See more

“Salt of the Atlantic”: Revalorization of identity of the Atlantic Saltpans. Recuperation and promotion of biological, economic and cultural potential of coastal wetlands See more


WoS Papers (71)
Other Papers (1)
Books (2)
Book Chapter (2)
Thesis (16)
Communications (107)
Other Publications (24)

CESAM Funding: