Main Activities

Research in the Microbiology Laboratory, coordinated by Teresa Crespo, is centered in 4 main areas:

Food, water and environmental microbiology

The research has been focused on traditional, conventional, and even novel microbial characterization, water production microbial features, environmental bioremediation, and it clear that has been evolving into information-rich, microbial and molecular biology analytical measurements as obtained by quantitative PCR, digital PCR or next generation sequencing.

The group has a long track record of working with bacterial populations, with some genus of bacteria, in particular Enterocccus and Aeromonas. The approaches considered by the group to face those challenges have a multidisciplinary perspective. Due to the basic knowledge of the group in microbiology and molecular biology techniques, those are the main tools used to study food and water microbial populations, bioremediation processes, or production of microbial stains with an agricultural impact. The team has collaborated and collaborates with chemical and environmental engineers, biochemists and chemists to enlarge the possibility of answering to the research gaps.

Traceability and authenticity of food products

Food authenticity is in the research agenda, as it is necessary to develop advanced analytical techniques such as molecular biology based, and a range of classic physical, chemical and biological methods, to detect non-compliant products. These problems can reach groups of food products as diverse as fish, meat, cereals, fruit, edible oils and olive oil varieties. The ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution is under the scope of traceability and one the areas of interest of the group. The aim of the area is to devise microbiological/molecular biology tools to authenticate and trace foods products. Molecular biology methods are based on quantitative PCR, digital PCR and new generation sequencing. This work is performed in cooperation with Portuguese companies and international partners.

Food and water safety and quality

In terms of area food and water quality and safety the aim of the group is to stdy the microbiological aspects of the problem, so the approach pursued is the study of adaptive stress response of microorganisms that are submitted to environmental and food-production stresses and to the formation of biofilms in food and water production/distribution environments. The detection of genes associated to pathogenicity, the study of antibiotic resistant microorganisms and microorganisms producers of microbial toxins are among the targets under the scope of the group. New safety hazards are always taken in consideration due to the continuous adaptation of water/food-borne pathogens, changes in production methodologies and in the environment, and the increase in global trade. The continuous pursuit of quality control of raw material (food or water), in-process control (food or water), quality and safety control of final products (food and water) and microbial and chemical control of cleaning and sanitation and delivery, are the non-stopping challenges to be answered.