Welcome to CBMA newsletter nº 1.
First of all we want to wish a good 2014, full of success!

The aim of this newsletter is to share the highlights and events from CBMA members.
Enjoy your read!
Raul Machado and Sofia Duarte

NEW CBMA BOARD

The Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology – CBMA – is a research centre integrated in the “Sistema Científico e Tecnológico Nacional” (SCTN) since 2007.
On July 26th 2013 a new direction team was elected, constituted by Margarida Casal as the director, and Andreia Gomes, Fernanda Cássio and Manuela Côrte-Real as sub-directors.

Pedro Soares (FCT Researcher)
Isabel Fernandes (Post-Doc Researcher)

This Erasmus Intensive Program will offer advanced education in the area of cellular membrane biochemistry, providing an encouraging scientific environment in this research area, promoting the exchanging of ideas and projects between students and professors. The course will be held at Braga on June 2nd - 13th 2014 and coordinated by Margarida Casal at CBMA.


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Alexandra Nobre signed the invited chronicle of the FCT newsletter Nº8 published on February 21st 2014. The text is titled “Science Communication makes a long story short” and intends to stress the importance of communicating Science to the general public as a way of increasing its scientific literacy and achieving an involved and responsible society. Carl Sagan illustrates this idea quite well in the sentence “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.


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Featured Publication

by Vítor V. Vasconcelos, Francisco C. Santos, Jorge M. Pacheco, and Simon A. Levin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (6) (2014): 2212-2216. Wealth inequality among nations can enhance cooperation on issues like global climate change. To date, global climate summits have struggled to produce meaningful results due in part to conflicts over mitigation strategies between rich and poor countries. Addressing this issue from a theoretical perspective, Jorge M. Pacheco from CBMA and colleagues from Portugal and Princeton incorporated real-world wealth inequality into a mathematical model employing a public goods dilemma, in which participants must cooperate to enact collective action or risk overall collapse. According to the authors, wealth inequality actually makes cooperation easier to achieve if nations avoid homophily, a sociological term that describes the human tendency to associate with and imitate others who are like themselves. Specifically, the authors write that homophily can undercut contributions from poor nations that are crucial to address the climate change dilemma, because these contributions tend to be lower and thus more sensitive to complete collapse, according to the authors. The findings reveal overlooked dynamics that may help facilitate future negotiations on issues like climate change.

by Miguel Carneiro, Rogélia Martins, Monica Landi, and Filipe O. Costa, European Journal of Taxonomy 73 (2014). An updated inventory of the ichthyofauna recorded in Portuguese waters lists up to 230 more species than those listed in Fishbase and previous checklists, consisting of an increase of nearly 30% in the number of fish species recorded in Portuguese territorial waters and the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). The grand list also includes the recently proposed extension of the continental platform, making up a total of close to 1200 fish species in an area spanning 4 227 408 Km2, that corresponds to the total land area occupied by the countries of the European Union. The ichthyofauna present in this region comprises about 88% of the marine fish species recorded for European countries.


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The paper Electrospun silk-elastin-like fibre mats for tissue engineering applications by Raul Machado, André da Costa, Andreia Gomes, Margarida Casal et al was distinguished as a featured publication in the journal Biomedical Materials. The authors have investigated the feasibility of using recombinant silk-elastin-like proteins fibre mats fabricated by electrospinning as a biomaterial for tissue engineering. The paper is free to read until the end of December 2014.


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is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network devised to offer training to young researchers in the interdisciplinary field of glycosciences and count with the participation of members from the research group headed by Cândida Lucas, among fourteen more groups. Coding of bioinformation in glycans and information transfer via lectins, i.e. the Sugar Code, is key to a wealth of medically relevant processes, as for example infection, immune regulation and malignancy, now awaiting its full exploitation pharmaceutically.


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is a network approved (21-02-2014) in the context of “Criação de um Roteiro Nacional de Infraestruturas de Investigação de Interesse Estratégico”, with the participation of 10 research units, including CBMA (Pedro Santos, UMinho coordinator).

Eugénia Nogueira, a PhD student of PDBMA under the supervision of Ana Preto (CBMA), was awarded the prize for the Best Work at Faraday Discussion 166: Self-Assembly of Biopolymers – Royal Society of Chemistry in Bristol UK.

Post-Graduation Courses and Workshops. CBMA organizes highly specialized training post-graduation courses and workshops targeted to C2 and C3 students on a regular basis. 


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The 4th year students of the first edition (2009-2010) of the doctoral program in Molecular and Environmental Biology organized the event. The program included lecturers held by Jorge Pacheco and Margarida Casal, student presentations, and poster sessions. A prize for the best poster was attributed to André Costa.


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Organized by finalists of the course in Applied Biology, this annual event is an academic tradition at University of Minho. This scientific meeting gathers former Applied Biology students and prominent researchers from different domains of Biological Sciences. Workshops were also organized, enabling students to access several areas of Biological Sciences, from Immunology to Forensics.


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Covering different topics on Biological Sciences, CBMA invites distinguished researchers, on a weekly basis, to present their work. All seminars take place on Wednesdays at 9:30 in MICAnf. Technical workshops. CBMA regularly organizes technical workshops to provide training for their members with best practice skills in different basic and specialized techniques.


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On behalf of CBMA, the editorial board acknowledges and congratulates all the PhD candidates that successfully obtained their academic degrees.
  • Arunava Pradhan, Impacts of nanoparticles to microbes and invertebrates: from community responses to cellular targets. September 2013.
  • Isabel Rodrigues Fernandes, Responses of aquatic decomposers to resource availability and increased temperature. September 2013.
  • Fábio Faria Oliveira, First molecular and biochemical characterization of the extracellular matrix of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. October 2013.
  • Joana Sá Pessoa, Structural-functional studies of plasma membrane carboxylate transporters in yeast. December 2013.
  • Filipa Pereira, Metabolic engineering of transport and core pentose metabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, December 2013.
  • Dário Trindade, Contribution of the adenine nucleotide carrier, porin, and sphingolipid metabolism to mitochondria membrane permeabilization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. December 2013.
  • Sara Alves, The role of KRAS and ceramide pathways in autophagy regulation towards understanding its role in colorectal carcinoma. January 2014.


In the scope of the partnership between the School of Sciences and the local newspaper “Correio do Minho”, several CBMA members contributed with articles in the weekly caption “Divulgar Ciência”.
  • Alexandra Nobre – “Acasos” felizes entre mentes astutas e bolores esverdeados (03-01-2013)
  • Alexandra Nobre – A Biologia, a Matemática e o Croché. Uma troika de sucesso (21-02-2013)
  • Sofia Duarte – Os principais agentes de reciclagem da matéria orgânica nos rios (04-04-2013)
  • Judite Almeida – A masseira onde não se amassou só pão (08-04-2013)
  • Margarida Casal – A quem pertencem os nossos genes?  (16-05-2013)
  • Monica Landi – Comer peixe, sim ou não? (31-05-2013)
  • Tony Collins – A vida no extremo (26-06-2013)
  • Judite Almeida – Comece a tratar as bactérias por tu (21-11-2013


THIS IS SCIENCE is a column on the local newspaper “Diário do Minho”, published fortnightly, on Saturdays, and signed by Marina Costa Maciel, a Science Communication master student developing her project in the scope of STOL activities and under the supervision of the STOL team. Since its inauguration, several texts were released covering topics on aging, food preservation, seasonal diseases as flu, the origin of man and the chemistry of love, just to mention a few:
  • STOL! Leia que é para si (16-11-2013)
  • Inverno e gripe, combinação (im)perfeita (04-12-2013)
  • Saberes por detrás dos sabores do Natal (14-12-2013)
  • Por que envelhecemos? (28-12-2013)
  • Sorria, você é uma estrela (11-01-2014)
  • Não destroce o seu coração (25-01-2014)
  • É amor? É loucura? Não, é muita química…” (08-02-2014)
  • Mais olho, menos barriga! (22-02-2014)


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Margarida Casal was invited to participate in the program “Sociedade Civil” broadcasted by RTP2 (August 23rd 2013).



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José Vingada was invited to talk about the project MarPro in the program Biosfera broadcasted by RTP2 (November 8th 2013).

Broadcast available at: http://www.rtp.pt/play/p1053/e133384/biosfera-xi


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A story about the project NanoDelivery was published in the Online Journal of UMinho “NÓS” (January 23rd 2014). The NanoDelivery project began an investigation in 2007 aiming to develop a transportation system of genetic material able to reach the cells. This capability was proven and patented, now having great potential for new solutions in healthcare and revolutionary products of the cosmetic industry.


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Mosteiro de Tibães, June 29th 2013 – July 21st 2013. This exhibit focused on the close relationship between science and art and included several art pieces.

Mosteiro de Tibães, July 6th 2013.

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Mosteiro de Tibães, July 6th 2013. A workshop organized by the Portuguese Wildlife Society (SPVS) and focused in Environmental Education.

Mosteiro de Tibães, January 3rd 2014. A workshop organized by the Portuguese Wildlife Society (SPVS) and focused in the identification of remains and traces of mammals.

Rómulo - Centro Ciência Viva da Universidade de Coimbra, September 27th 2013. Alexandra Nobre participated in researcher’s night, a mega event that takes place every year on a single September night in about 300 cities all over Europe.

Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Lisbon, October 25th 2013. Alexandra Nobre integrated the scientific committee of this interactive exhibit of science and technology.

B-Lounge da Biblioteca Geral da Universidade do Minho, December 5th 2013. This scientific discussion counted with the participation of Margarida Casal and Célia Pais.