Laboratory of Fluvial and Terrestrial Ecology (LEFT)

Coordinator  /  Joaquim Jesus

The Laboratory of Fluvial and Terrestrial Ecology (LEFT) is a Service Provider Unit whose foundation resulted from the fusion of the Fluvial Ecology and Applied Ecology laboratories, previously operating at UTAD. LEFT's mission is to contribute to applied and innovative scientific knowledge in the areas of Ecology, Conservation Biology and Environment, supporting scientific research that contributes to the advancement of the state of the art, namely in the fields of monitoring river and terrestrial ecosystems, conservation, ecological and environmental assessment, environmental impact studies, environmental audits and inspections, restoration and renaturation of degraded habitats and ecological modelling. The LEFT promotes close connection with partners from the private and public sectors, more than 100 funded projects, involving more than 30 different entities, in order to better adapt research results to stakeholder requests, enhancing the impact on society of the knowledge produced.

Agriculture and Environment Lab

Coordinator  /  Henrique Trindade

Evaluation of GHG emitted from crops and animal production systems. Assessment of environmental consequences when strategies for minimizing negative environmental impacts from animal and crop production, namely from organic and mineral amendments were used in agriculture. Monitoring of fundamental animal, plant and soil processes related to the carbon and nitrogen cycles.
The most important equipment on the lab include: 4 gas chromatographs, a portable photoacoustic gas analyzer and a chemiluminescence gas monitor which enable the analysis of greenhouse gases and other important gaseous compounds, such as: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). In addition, there is a set of structures and facilities available for monitoring biological processes from the nitrogen and carbon cycles like dynamic and static chambers, reactors for composting, scale models of animal housing floors, large-volume chambers with temperature control and field facilities. These facilities, for example, allow the study step-by-step of animal manures applying a life-cycle (farm-scale) approach.

Agro-Environmental Technologies Lab

Coordinator  /  Ana Sampaio

The main activities of the Agro-Environmental Technologies Laboratory, focuses on the role of autochthonous fungi in agro-industrial by products and effluents remediation and/or valorisation. It includes microbial fermentation of lignocellulose residue as a pre-treatment; enzyme production and saccharification for bioconversion into added value products; and myco-remediation of relevant effluents (e.g. wineries, olive oil mills and chestnut processing), alone or combined with non-biological processes. Also, the potential use of molds and yeasts as indicators of ecological integrity is of interest.

Animal House

Coordinator  /  Bruno Colaço

The animal facility offer services in animal sciences research. The facility houses mainly rodents and rabbits. However the unit may also give support to other research animals from the campus such as pigs, poultry, sheep and fish. The research group develops research in vivo studies on the therapeutic and toxicological properties of plant extracts from Portuguese ethnobotanical floral species, such as Castanea sativa flower and Laurus nobilis extract, using animal models of cancers chemically induced and in the animal model of cervical cancer K14HPV16. The unit provides training programmes based on FELASA B courses for those caring experiments with animals.

Cell Biology and Biochemistry Lab

Coordinator  /  Amélia Silva

In the Cell Biology and Biochemistry Lab research is performed on two major topics: study of the cellular mechanism underlying the health effects of extracts from plants, agro-food co-products and mushrooms, of essential oils and of isolated phytochemicals, as well as of the study of nanoencapsulation of selected bioactive products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. Studies developed in this lab aim to contribute with knowledge related to the bioactive composition of autochthonous plants (e.g. Thymus mastichina, Thymus carnosus) and the molecular mechanism by which they modulate the physiological behavior of normal and tumoral cells. The results obtained also aim to demonstrate the phytochemical potential of some Portuguese endemic plants (some are endangered) in order to raise the awareness for its preservations; to value these plants and respective bioactive compounds as functional foods and/or functional ingredients, and to value the bioactive compounds present local agro-food co-products to reduce the wastes and increase its potential as added-value products.

Ecotoxicology Lab

Coordinator  /  Sandra Monteiro

The Ecotoxicology offers the possibility to work in the development and validation of biomarkers of exposure, in aquatic animals. The main aim would be to include these biomarkers in multidisciplinary monitoring programs of aquatic ecosystems, and also use it as tools to identify threats to living organism, induced by exposure to natural and anthropogenic water contaminants. Can include studies under controlled conditions in laboratory facilities, using model species, and monitoring field work, using aquatic, mainly fish, populations.

Forest Products Lab

Coordinator  /  José Louzada

The Forest Products Laboratory allows the development of research projects and scientific formation in the domain of the forest resources quality (wood, cork, biomass and its by-products) in order to achieve a more rational management, a more efficient use and the transformation of these resources.

The main goal of this research unit can be focused on the study of basic variation patterns and relations between quality and raw materials, which allows the identification and relative quantification of environment, genetic, ontogenic effects as well as its respective interactions in the quality variation of forest products. More focused research can be the study of biometric, physical and mechanical quantification of wood and cork, species selection according to wood quality, growth and productivity studies, relationships between growth conditions and silvicultural practices on wood quality, and forest biomass for energy purposes.

Image-Based Systems Lab

Coordinator  /  Pedro Pinto

The Image-based systems Lab applies computer vision and image processing methods and can be used to guide or control many agri-food and forestry systems and processes, providing a cheap, reliable and objective approach for inspection, evaluation and measurement purposes and thereby contributing to the Precision Farming concept and practices. The development of innovative non-intrusive image based methodologies are used to estimate different parameters in vine/grape quality assessment such as anthocyanin concentration (as well as sugar content and pH), to identify varieties/clones of vines and to assess vegetative growth indexes and water stress. Image based methodologies are becoming increasingly important in data intensive approaches for precision agriculture; its multidisciplinary nature requires expertise from computer science, digital image processing and computational intelligence with a strong input from agricultural sciences.

Phytochemicals Lab

Coordinator  /  Ana Barros

In the Phytochemicals Lab the main activities are directed to phytochemicals with the aim of obtaining detailed information on variations existing in plant composition due to different genetic, agro-climatic and environmental factors especially concerning climate change. Additionally, in the phytochemical analysis facilities can be performed chromatographic, spectroscopic and colorimetric determinations of bioactive compounds as well as their radical scavenging activity and biocide power against pathogenic microorganisms.

Plant Ecophysiology Lab

Coordinator  /  Carlos Correia

The main activities in the Plant Ecophysiology are focused on crops such as grapevine, olive tree, sweet cherry, apple, chestnut, almond, hazelnut, berries, cereals, medicinal and aromatic plants and include Impacts of environmental stresses, Adaptation to environmental stresses, Mitigation strategies to climate change, Physiology of crop production, Oxidative stress indicators and antioxidant responses, among others.

Soil Microbiology Lab

Coordinator  /  Guilhermina Marques

At the Soil Microbiology Laboratory, it is possible to conduct focused research in plant-microorganisms symbioses and biological control agents. This research is performed mainly in arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), endophytes, entomopathogenic fungi and antagonistic bacteria. It aims to select microbial strains relevant to agricultural and forestry applications such as nutrient uptake efficiency, plant-pathogen resistance and plant resistance against biotic and abiotic stresses, in the context of sustainable and ecological agriculture.

Wildland Fire Lab

Coordinator  /  Paulo Fernandes

The Wildland Fire Lab aims to contribute to improved wildland fire management policies and practices, hence to less vulnerable and more resilient systems. For that purpose, it studies the establishment of links between environmental drivers (vegetation and weather), fire behavior characteristics, and fire effects on ecosystems and assets.