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Ongoing projects

Microbial sulfur metabolism 

Sulfate respiration is one of the major modes of anaerobic respiration in anoxic environments. This ancient microbial metabolism also plays a critical role in the biogeochemical sulfur cycle. It displays some unique metabolic features, and how the microorganisms obtain energy from this process has not been clearly established. We investigate the respiratory metabolism of these organisms, which will give us important clues into the evolution of Life on the early earth, and is crucial for exploiting these organisms in multiple biotech applications or for controlling the damaging side-effects of their activity (for example in biocorrosion or in inflammatory bowel diseases).

An important area in our lab is the study of enzymes and membrane complexes of sulfate reducers. We characterized several of these membrane complexes for the first time, which was an important breakthrough into understanding the mechanism of sulfate reduction. We also discovered the presence of an additional step in dissimilatory sulfate reduction, involving a protein trisulfide as the product of sulfite reduction. Ongoing studies focus on how the membrane complexes interact with other proteins in metabolic pathways to achieve energy conservation.

Selected publications:

Santos A¥, Venceslau SS¥, Grein F, Leavitt WD, Dahl C, Johnston DT and Pereira IAC* (2015) A protein trisulfide couples dissimilatory sulfate reduction to energy conservation. Science 350, 1541

Duarte AG, Catarino T, White GF, Lousa L, Neukirchen S, Soares CM, Sousa FL, Clarke TA & Pereira IAC* (2018) An electrogenic redox loop in sulfate reduction reveals a likely widespread mechanism of energy conservation. Nature Comm., 9, 5448

Pereira I.A.C.*, Ramos AR, Grein F, Marques MC, Da Silva SM and Venceslau SS (2011). A comparative genomic analysis of energy metabolism in sulfate reducing bacteria and archaea. Front. Microbiol. 2:69 (open access) 


Redox enzymes for sustainable catalysis (H2 metabolism and CO2 reduction)

We study important redox enzymes for biofuel production, including a [NiFeSe] hydrogenase for H2 production and oxidation, and a W/Sec-formate dehydrogenase for CO2 reduction. We use a rational approach to engineer these enzymes with the aim to investigate their mechanism and the molecular basis for their high activity and stability. Together with collaborators we also investigate their use for development of novel hybrid systems for electro or photocatalysis of H2 production or CO2 reduction.

Selected publications:

[NiFeSe] Hydrogenase

Marques MC, Tapia C, Gutiérrez-Sanz O, Ramos AR, Keller KL, Wall JD, De Lacey AL, Matias PM*, Pereira IAC* (2017) The direct role of selenocysteine in [NiFeSe] hydrogenase maturation and catalysis. Nature Chem. Biol., 13, 544-550

Zacarias S; Temporão A; del Barrio M; Fourmond V; Leger C; Matias P*; Pereira IAC* (2019) A hydrophilic channel is involved in oxidative inactivation of a [NiFeSe] hydrogenase. ACS Catalysis, DOI 10.1021/acscatal.9b02347

Moore EE, Virgil A, Zacarias S, Pereira IAC, Reisner E (2020) Integration of a Hydrogenase in a Lead Halide Perovskite Photoelectrode for Tandem Solar Water Splitting. ACS Energy Lett., 5, 232-237    DOI 10.1021/acsenergylett.9b02437

Ruff A, Szczesny J, Markovi N, Conzuelo F, Zacarias S, Pereira IAC, Lubitz W & Schuhmann W (2018) A fully protected hydrogenase/polymer-based bioanode for high-performance hydrogen/glucose biofuel cells. Nature Comm. 9, 3675,

W/Sec Formate dehydrogenase

Oliveira AR, Mota C, Mourato C, Domingos RM, Santos MFA, Gesto D, Guigliarelli B, Santos-Silva T, Romão MJ*, Pereira IAC* (2020) Toward the mechanistic understanding of enzymatic CO2 reduction. ACS Catalysis, DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.0c00086

Sokol KP, Robinson WE, Oliveira AR, Zacarias S, Lee C-Y, Madden C, Bassegoda A, Hirst J, Pereira IAC, Reisner E (2019) Reversible and Selective Interconversion of Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide into Formate by a Semiartificial Formate Hydrogenlyase Mimic. J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI 10.1021/jacs.9b09575

Miller, M., Robinson, W.E., Oliveira, A.R., Heidary, N., Kornienko, N., Warnan, J., Pereira, I.A.C., Reisner, E. (2019) Interfacing Formate Dehydrogenase with Metal Oxides for the Reversible Electrocatalysis and Solar-Driven Reduction of Carbon Dioxide. Angew. Chemie 131, 4649, DOI: 10.1002/ange.201814419

Sokol KP, Robinson WE, Oliveira AR, Zacarias S, Lee C-Y, Madden C, Bassegoda A, Hirst J, Pereira IAC, Reisner E (2019) Reversible and Selective Interconversion of Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide into Formate by a Semiartificial Formate Hydrogenlyase Mimic. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141, 17498-17502 DOI 10.1021/jacs.9b09575


Whole cell catalysis

We also investigate the use of anaerobic bacteria for whole cell biocatalysis of H2 production, CO2 reduction or bioremediation of environmental pollutants, using simple cells or biosynthetized metal nanoparticles.

Selected publications:

Martins M*, Mourato C, Sanches S, Noronha JP, Barreto Crespo MT, Pereira IAC * (2017) Biogenic platinum and palladium nanoparticles as new catalysts for the removal of pharmaceutical compounds. Water Res., 108, 160-168

Mourato C, Martins M, da Silva SM, Pereira IAC* (2017) A continuous system for biocatalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to formate. Bioresource Technol., 235, 149-156   DOI 10.1016/j.biortech.2017.03.091

Martins M & Pereira IAC* (2013) Sulfate-reducing bacteria as new microorganisms for biological hydrogen production. Int. J. Hydr. Energ, 38, 12294-12301

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