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M. Margarida Oliveira Lab


At GPlantS lab we study the effect of environmental factors on the regulation of gene expression and plant development, with special focus on salt, drought and temperature stresses, using a number of different genomics approaches.

M. Margarida Oliveira
Professor Catedrático
PhD 1993 in Biology, Universidade de Lisboa

Phone (+351) 214469647/8 | Extension 1647/8
Email | Lab website



Research Interests


Plant growth and yield depend much on the environment, which plays a critical role in the expression of plant genetic potential. Environmental (abiotic) stress is a major cause of losses in plant productivity worldwide, with resulting economical instability. Aiming for crop improvement, GPlantS is particularly interested in studying the environmental impact on plant growth regulation, and on the adaptation strategies that permit some plants to survive the stress.

We are following a genomics approach to explain plant stress responses, from the regulation of chromatin structure and epigenetic modifications, to the study of post-translational protein modifications and identification of new players in the transcriptional network regulated by stress. We are also exploring and developing bioinformatics tools to study the stress response transcriptome.

Our main focus is rice, due to its worldwide importance as food crop and because Portugal is the main rice consumer/capita in the EU, producing 60% of internal needs. Rice production in Portugal is mainly affected by salinity and cold (in Tejo/Sado and Mondego riverbeds, respectively). We are working in close collaboration with COTArroz supporting the National Rice Breeding Program.
For its national relevance, we are also mainly interested in cork oak and in the development of molecular tools that may accelerate the studies and improvement of the species.
We have also research in the emerging biodiesel plant Jatropha curcas (purging nut) for its relevance for third countries and for its high tolerance to drought.
We have close to 20 years expertise in almond tree (a Rosaceae fruit species), for which we developed a number of pioneering biotech and molecular tools (see detailed publications list).
Our studies are often supported by the Arabidopsis model in which we study the defense machinery to oxidative stress and express heterologous genes.

Recently we have:

  1. Identified and characterized the function of several rice genes involved in stress adaptation, establishing new links between specific abiotic cues and developmental patterns
  2.  Defined conditions for gel-based proteomics to uncover SUMOylation role in Arabidopsis proteome response to dehydration, and found multi-spot shift after stress and many SUMO1 isoforms
  3. EcoTILLING-genotyped 392 rice accessions for 5 key salt-related genes, found 40 new allelic variants and mutations putatively impacting the structure/function of the encoded proteins and, by association analyses, found 11 significant SNPs related to salinity
  4.  Got the first evidence of CBF genes’ role along seasonal cold acclimation and ecodormancy break in a fruit tree, and proposed new genetic markers for dormancy-activity transitions Established in Jatropha curcas a reliable protocol for drought stress assays and are studying the transcriptome within a collaboration with Fraunhofer-IGB
  5. Established a link between stress-induced transcription changes, and modifications of histones and DNA methylation. FISH showed a rapid ribosomal chromatin plasticity (decondensation) in response to stress challenging.
  6. We have been deeply involved in promoting a national cork oak research network, which allowed the sequencing of cork oak transcriptome (CorkOakDB), and we are active members of the recently funded “GenoSuber - Cork oak genome sequencing project” leaded by CEBAL.


Group Members


Selected Publications

  1. Lourenço TF, Serra TS, Cordeiro AM, Swanson SJ, Gilroy S, Saibo NJ, Oliveira MM. (2015) The rice E3 ubiquitin ligase OsHOS1 modulates the expression of OsRMC, a gene involved in root mechano-sensing, through the interaction with two ERF transcription factors. Plant Physiol. 169(3):2275-87.
  2. Ramos AM, Usié A, Barbosa P, Barros PM, Capote T, Chaves I, Simões F, Abreu I, Carrasquinho I, Faro C, Guimarães JB, Mendonça D, Nóbrega F, Rodrigues L, Saibo NJM, Varela MC, Egas C, Matos J, Miguel CM, Oliveira MM, Ricardo CP, Gonçalves S (2018) Data descriptor: the draft genome sequence of cork oak. Scientific Data, 5, 180069.

  3. Ferreira LJ, Donoghue MTA, Barros PM, Saibo NJM, Santos A.P, Oliveira MM. (2019) Uncovering differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in a salt-tolerant rice variety under stress: one step towards new regulatory regions for enhanced salt tolerance. Epigenomes 2019, 3(1), 4.

Laboratory's Website

For further information please visit the GPlantS website

For further information please visit the laboratory's (Plant Functional Genomics) website


Genomica de Plantas em Stress (PT)

O crescimento das plantas e a sua produtividade dependem muito do ambiente, determinante no controlo da expressão do potencial genético vegetal. O stress ambiental (abiótico) é a principal causa da perda de produtividade a nível mundial, causando inevitável instabilidade económica. No laboratório de ‘Genómica de Plantas em Stress’ estamos particularmente interessados no impacto do ambiente na regulação do desenvolvimento vegetal e nas estratégias de adaptação que permitem a algumas plantas sobreviver ao stress. Para isso usamos diversas técnicas de análise genómica para tentar compreender a intrincada rede molecular de resposta das plantas ao stress. O nosso foco principal é o arroz, por ser a planta base da alimentação de mais de metade população mundial e porque Portugal é o maior consumidor/capita na UE, produzindo 60% do consumo interno. Estudamos não só o efeito da salinidade e do frio que preocupam os nossos agricultores, mas também a falta de água pela sua relevância mundial.


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