Together for Biodiversity

Plant Biology - PLANTBIO



Group Description
  The PlantBIO research group embraces two major research areas




We investigate the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underpinning forest regeneration and demographic expansion in chronically managed forests. We aim to link detail records on dispersal mutualisms with the demographic expansion patterns and the genetic changes observed in the colonization front. By doing so, we gain empirical evidence on the relevance of key ecological services, such as seed dispersal by frugivores, in setting the spatial distribution of the genetic variation, that in turn determine the chances of plant populations to persist or collapse in response to drivers of global change. We combine long-term field data on fecundity and vegetative growth, aerial images, spatial-explicit evolutionary models and highly polymorphic molecular tools (SSR, SNPs) to:


  1. Investigate the role of dispersal mutualisms in driving regeneration successs (Dispersal Ecology);
  2. Apply landscape genetic tools to identify ecological and geographic factors that influence the spatial distribution of the genetic variation across the distribution range and across the colonization front (Landscape Genetics);
  3. Evaluate the role of different genetic and demographic process in promoting forest regeneration under spatial-explicit scenarios at different spatial scales (Eco-EvolutionaryDynamics); and
  4. Identify sings of local selection in the front wave as a response to increasing frequency of extreme drought events (Response to global change).


We have active collaborations with in-house and foreign research groups in France, USA, and Spain. We frequently host PhD students from other groups who come to the group to be trained in molecular tools, network analysis, or in applying landscape genetics tools.


Team: Cristina García (PI), Jesus Múñoz (PostDoc), Emmanuelle Billard (PostDoc), Francisco Javier Miranda (Lab Technician).





We study the molecular basis of plant adaptation to abiotic stress including:


  1. Regulation and signalling of zinc deficiency adaptation response, and metal tolerance and accumulation in extremophile hyperaccumulator species
  2. The role of sumoylation and regulation by post-translational modification in the abiotic stress adaptation response
  3. Characterization of abiotic stress determinants in forest species
  4. Evaluation of genetic variability in plant genetic resources for agronomic traits
  5. Tree-rhizosphere physiology.


Our research uses the genetic model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, but also other plant species of interest: Pinus pinaster;Quercus suber, metal hyperaccumulator species Noccaea caerulescens and Alyssum pintodasilvae (Portuguese endemic).


We have collaborations with research groups at national level, in Universidade de Évora, Universidade de Braga, Universidade Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, ITQB-Universidade de Lisboa, and at international level, in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, USA and Spain.


Team: Ana AssunçãoHerlander AzevedoEugénia NunesHugo OliveiraPaulo Oliveira.


The expertize of PLANTBIO research group includes genetic and omics-based strategies (e.g. transcriptomics by microarray/RNAseq).






Student Supervisions