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Applied and Environmental Mycology


The Applied and Environmental Mycology group aims to enlarge filamentous fungi biotechnological potential. Research ranges from fundamental studies on fungal biology to applications in bioremediation and biocatalysis, also highlighting ionic liquids higher interest.

Cristina S. Pereira

Cristina Silva Pereira
Assistant Researcher, IBET/ITQB-UNL
PhD in Biochemistry, 2004, ITQB-UNL

Phone (+351) 214469849


Research Interests

It has been estimated that up to one quarter of the world’s biomass is of fungal origin. This comprises ~1.5 million species, with only 700 identified up to now (of which in turn 75 % belong to the Ascomycota phylum). Fungi are vital for the ecosystem functions, segregating a broad range of hydrolytic enzymes that can break down complex biopolymers and producing chemically and structurally diverse secondary metabolites. Fungal secondary metabolites are a virtually unlimited source of probes for fungal biology, including some signalling in cell-to-cell communication pathways which control e.g. pathogenicity. Some fungal secondary metabolites are now clinically significant drugs.

The Applied and Environmental Mycology group aims at producing scientific knowledge which essentially highlights Ascomycota fungi biotech added-value. The research plan was set in order to tackle challenging global problems, such as pollution and sustainable biotechnological processes. Inspired by this scientific vision, we are investigating the persistent toxicity of halogenated pollutants and the remedial potential of particular filamentous fungi. Aiming to propose solutions for waste management, we have also pioneered the merging of biology and ionic-liquid chemistry and show that benign ionic liquids can be remarkable solvents. The potential of these solvents in processes aimed at extracting or modifying a broad range of natural products, including complex bio-polyesters, is currently under development.

Biochemistry and functional genomics are being used to screen the response of fungal individuals and/or communities to natural and anthropogenic stress. To better understand the transduction pathway that connects chemical stimulus to cellular response, the studies are focussing on two model Ascomycota fungi: Neurospora crassa and Aspergillus nidulans. In this context, some early findings form the foundation of a growing interest in the genetics and functioning of fungal secondary metabolism.


Group Members

    • M Marija Petkovic, Post-Doc
    • Tiago M. Martins, Post-Doc
    • Adélia Varela Castro, PhD student (also a member of INRB/L-INIA)
    • Diego Hartmann, PhD student
    • Helga Garcia, PhD student
    • Isabel Martins, PhD student
    • Mariana Carvalho, PhD student
    • Paula Cristina Alves, PhD student
    • Rui Ferreira, PhD student (also a member of Molecular Thermodynamics lab)
    • Celso Martins, Research Fellow
    • Marina Guerreiro, Research Fellow
    • Maria Cristina Leitão, Liquid Chromatography Technician

Selected Publications

  1. M. B. Carvalho, S. Tavares, J. Medeiros, O. Núñez, H. Gallart-Ayala, M. C. Leitão, M. T. Galceran, A. Hursthouse and C. Silva Pereira (2011) Degradation pathway of pentachlorophenol by Mucor plumbeus involves phase II conjugation and oxidation–reduction reactions. Journal of Hazardous Materials, DOI:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2011.10.021
  2. M. Petkovic, K. R. Seddon, L. P. N. Rebelo and C. Silva Pereira (2011) Ionic liquids: a pathway to environmental acceptability. Chemical Society Reviews, 40:1383-1403.
  3. H. Garcia, R. Ferreira, M. Petkovic, J. Ferguson, M. C. Leitão, N. Gunaratne, K. R. Seddon, L. P. N. Rebelo and C. Silva Pereira (2010) Dissolution of cork biopolymers in biocompatible ionic liquids. Green Chemistry, 12:367-369.

Laboratory's Website

For further information please visit the laboratory's website


Micologia Ambiental e Aplicada (PT)

Os fungos estão presentes em todos os ecosistemas e asseguram funções essenciais. Há mais de 70000 espécies descritas, mas segundo algumas estimativas o número de espécies total ascende a 1.5 milhões. Os fungos segregam uma grande diversidade de enzimas que podem degradar polímeros complexos e produzem compostos com elevado valor industrial. Face ao exposto, o seu potencial biotecnológica é muito elevado pelo que a nossa equipa “Micologia Aplicada e Ambiental” tem desenvolvido estudos neste sentido, essencialmente com o objectivo de resolver problemas críticos. Neste contexto, pretendemos desenvolver conhecimentos que permitam desenvolver tecnologias sustentáveis para a gestão e eliminação de poluentes (bioremediação), e para a criação de valor acrescentado de compósitos resultantes de actividades agro-industriais. No nosso laboratório exploramos conceitos muito multidisciplinares, nomeadamente em estudos da aplicabilidade dos líquidos iónicos (sais líquidos) em processos biológicos.


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