20 years of Science and Innovation

Research Group Coordinator


Senior Researchers


Research Fellows

Postdoctoral Researchers

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.

Major research topics

The thematic group of Biotechnology addresses topics related to:

  • Biofilm Science and Engineering, with applications to industrial and potable water issues, food processing hygiene and health problems. Biofilms are the most common lifestyle form for bacteria, with deleterious implications to human activity – including energy losses, water, air and food contamination in engineered systems and infection and cancer risks in the human health. Biofilm control and eradication is mainly via biocides and/or antibiotics, which are employed to high levels because biofilm cells are much more resistant than their planktonic counterparts.

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.

  • Marine and Food Bioengineering, with applications to synthesis and extraction of added-value compounds (with foreseeable pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications), development of novel systems of production of nutraceutical ingredients and probiotic performance, and fundamental elucidation and improvement of novel technologies of food processing.

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.

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