Research Group Coordinator
Ana Alexandra Pereira
The Biotechnology Research Group is chiefly focused on the development of the background science and technological applications related to microbial aggregates in industry, environment and health, and to added-value compounds in marine resources and food processing.
The thematic group of Biotechnology addresses topics related to:
Our approach is targeted at reducing initial adhesion and attacking the already established biofilm, based on the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms involved in cell-cell and cell-wall interactions and of the microbial metabolism inside communities.
Onthe other hand, biofilms can also be used in a beneficial way, not only for pollution abatement, but also for the production of energy (such as in microbial fuel cells), these topics being also addressed by the Biofilm Engineering Laboratory (BEL) research team.
Classical bioreactors have been designed for bacteria, yeasts and fungi – but microalgae require both CO2 and light for photosynthetic operation, and thus dedicated bioreactors well beyond existing technologies. Furthermore, classical downstream separation techniques suitable for (marine) microalgae are expensive, and account for a major portion of the final product cost – because such cells are small, possess robust cell walls, and metabolites accumulate intracellularly.
The Food Biotechnology topic is focused on functional foods (possessing nutraceutical ingredients, or serving as medium for delivery of probiotic microorganisms) and on improvement of (chemical and microbiological) food safety along the whole chain.