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Following the Evolution Towards Fluconazole Resistance in C. glabrata

Following the Evolution Towards Fluconazole Resistance in C. glabrata | iBB | Scoop.it

The effectiveness of Candida glabrata as an emerging human pathogen relies on its ability to acquire azole drug resistance. In a paper just published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the first time-course evaluation of the global gene expression changes that lead a drug susceptible C. glabrata clinical isolate to step-wise acquisition of resistance to azole drugs was conducted. This work, which results from the collaboration of six different teams under the coordination of Miguel C Teixeira from BSRG-iBB, highlights the multifactorial nature of azole resistance acquisition, including the Epa3 adhesin as a new player, while providing fascinating clues on the underlying evolutionary path. This knowledge is of crucial importance to design more effective antifungal therapy.

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Regulation of Zygosaccharomyces bailii Early Response to Acetic Acid and Copper Stress

Regulation of Zygosaccharomyces bailii Early Response to Acetic Acid and Copper Stress | iBB | Scoop.it

The non-conventional food spoiling yeast species Zygosaccharomyces bailii is remarkably tolerant to acetic acid, a highly important microbial inhibitory compound in Food Industry and Biotechnology. The study recently published in Scientific Reports, coordinated by Isabel Sá-Correia and Margarida Palma and first authored by the BIOTECnico PhD student Miguel Antunes, investigates the genomic transcription changes occurring during the early response of Z. bailii to acetic acid or copper stresses and uncovers the regulatory network activated under the bifunctional transcriptional factor ZbHaa1 control. This study provides valuable insights regarding Z. bailii adaptation mechanisms to acetic acid or copper stresses, ZbHaa1-dependent regulatory network, and the evolution of transcription factors and regulatory networks in pre- whole genome duplication (WGD) and post-WGD yeast species.

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"The Admirable World of Microbes": A Training Course for Secondary School Teachers

"The Admirable World of Microbes": A Training Course for Secondary School Teachers | iBB | Scoop.it

A training course for secondary school teachers entiled "The admirable world of Microbes: small in size, great in action" was carried out at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) on the 17 and 22 september within the frame of the commemorations of the International Microorganism Day 2018. The course was accredited by the Training Center of the Ordem dos Biólogos (OB) and aimed at updating and reinforcing theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the area of Microbiology and Biotechnology. The 12-hour training included theoretical (4 hours), computational (2 hours) and laboratory (4 hours) modules as well as a roundtable discussion (2 hours). The course was organized and taught by Arsénio Fialho, Cristina Viegas and Leonilde Moreira from the Bioengineering Department of IST and BSRG-iBB. It was attended by 22 teachers from schools all over the country. The initiative was supported by the Portuguese Society of Microbiology (SPM), OB and IST.

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The OmpR Regulator of Burkholderia multivorans Controls Properties Associated with Persistence in the Cystic Fibrosis Lung

The OmpR Regulator of Burkholderia multivorans Controls Properties Associated with Persistence in the Cystic Fibrosis Lung | iBB | Scoop.it

Within the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung, bacteria experience high-osmolarity conditions due to an ion unbalance resulting from defects in CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein activity in epithelial cells. Understanding how bacterial CF pathogens thrive in this environment might help the development of new therapeutic interventions to prevent chronic respiratory infections. In a recent publication in Journal of Bacteriology, researchers from BSRG-iBB led by Leonilde M. Moreira, in collaboration with Dr. Vaughn Cooper from University of Pittsburgh, USA, and Dr. Jörg Becker from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, provide evidence that mutations in OmpR experience positive selection during the adaptation of Burkholderia to chronic infections of the CF airway, and these selective forces can be recapitulated in the laboratory. Characterization of OmpR shows that it is a major regulator of many traits related to cell envelope composition and central metabolism, in which loss-of-function mutants enable greater tolerance and growth under stress conditions but are costly for fitness under other conditions.

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Assessment of Ecotoxicological Potential of Cement-based Construction Materials

Assessment of Ecotoxicological  Potential of Cement-based Construction Materials | iBB | Scoop.it

Innovation in construction materials (CM) implies changing their composition by incorporating raw materials (RM), usually non-traditional ones (e.g., processed or recycled RM), to confer particular characteristics. However, potential environmental risks associated with changing the conventional composition of CM are not completely known and need to be evaluated. Researchers from iBB-BSRG and CERIS - Civil Engineering Research and Innovation for Sustainability, at IST, proposed and applied a methodology for the assessment of the potential ecotoxicity associated with RM and cement-based CM considering a conservative scenario representative of the end of the materials life cycle. The work was published in the journal Materials.

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Azurin Perturbs Lipid Rafts’ Organization and Enhances Sensitivity to Anti-cancer Drugs

Azurin Perturbs Lipid Rafts’ Organization and Enhances Sensitivity to Anti-cancer Drugs | iBB | Scoop.it

A new determinant of the interaction of the bacterial anti-cancer protein azurin with the lipid rafts present in the membrane of cancer cells has been uncovered by a team led by Arsénio Fialho from BSRG-iBB, in collaboration with Sandra Pinto and Fábio Fernandes from CQFM-IN and iBB. The lipid rafts in these cells contribute to increase membrane order, rigidity and resistance to anti-cancer drugs. As a consequence of the interaction with lipid rafts, we demonstrate that treating cells with azurin increases membrane fluidity, and ultimately benefits the action of other drugs, probably by facilitating its entry in cancer cells. The work was recently published in the journal Cell Cycle.

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Probiotic Therapeutics for Candidiasis

Probiotic Therapeutics for Candidiasis | iBB | Scoop.it
The project "LactoCan – Fostering the development of new probiotic therapeutic approaches for the treatment of candidiasis exploring the Candida-lactobacilii interference" has been recommended for funding by FCT (2017 Call for SR&TD Project Grants). The goal of LactoCan is to foster the development of new anti-Candida therapies by exploring the intimate, but yet unexplored, interference that exists in vivo between several lactobacilli species that compose the human mycobiome and that are known to play a role in modulating the overgrowth of pathogens, including of Candida spp. The project, which falls within the scientific area of Biological Sciences, is headed by Nuno Mira from BSRG-iBB and involves national/international collaborations with the University of Minho, with INRIA and with the University of Antwerpen. 
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Metagenomic Binning Illuminates the Evolution of Unculturable, Symbiotic Bacteria

Metagenomic Binning Illuminates the Evolution of Unculturable, Symbiotic Bacteria | iBB | Scoop.it

Most microorganisms cannot be cultivated in the laboratory, what hinders our understanding of their physiology, evolution and functional roles. In collaboration with GEOMAR, University of Kiel, iBB researchers used modern nucleotide composition binning methodologies to assemble the genome of an “unculturable” bacterial symbiont from microbial metagenomes. The research led to the identification of a novel alphaproteobacterial lineage found to be intimately associated with marine sponges, termed "SERC" (sponge-enriched Rhodospirillales clade), characterized by the lack of chemotaxis and motility traits and enrichment of genes required for the utilization of organic sulfur, biosynthesis of natural products, and cell detoxification processes. The work was published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology.

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Lactic Acid Bacterial Factories

Lactic Acid Bacterial Factories | iBB | Scoop.it

The project "LactoSynt: Lactic Acid Bacteria as Cell Factories: a Synthetic Biology Approach for Plasmid DNA and Recombinant Protein Production" has been recommended for funding by FCT (2017 Call for SR&TD Project Grants). The goal of LactoSynt is to engineer lactic acid bacteria and plasmid vectors in order to develop a flexible platform for biomolecule production. Applications in the pharmaceutical field (DNA vaccines, recombinant proteins) are envisaged. The project, which falls within the scientific area of Medical Biotechnology, is headed by Gabriel Monteiro from BERG-iBB and Leonilde Moreira from BSRG-iBB.

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Yeast Response to Acetic Acid Involves Pdr18-mediated Ergosterol Transport at the Membrane

Yeast Response to Acetic Acid Involves Pdr18-mediated Ergosterol Transport at the Membrane | iBB | Scoop.it

The ability of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to overcome the stress induced by cytotoxic compounds depends on the activity of plasma membrane transporters of the ABC superfamily, presumably through the questionable unspecific efflux of multiple drugs and xenobiotic compounds. A recent paper by iBB researchers provides new insights into the biological role of the ABC transporter of the pleiotropic drug resistance family of putative drug efflux pumps Pdr18, proposed to mediate ergosterol incorporation in plasma membrane. Pdr18 expression was found to help cells to counteract acetic acid-induced decrease of plasma membrane lipid order, increase the non-specific membrane permeability and decrease the transmembrane electrochemical potential. Results support the notion that Pdr18-mediated multistress resistance is linked to the status of plasma membrane lipid environment related with ergosterol content and the associated plasma membrane properties. The paper, published in Scientific Reports, results from the PhD project of Cláudia Godinho, advised by Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia from BSRG-iBB in collaboration with Fábio Fernandes and Sandra Pinto from BSIRG-iBB).

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“The Wonders of the Marine Bacterial World” by iBB

“The Wonders of the Marine Bacterial World” by iBB | iBB | Scoop.it

Lisbon is celebrating 20 years of the Expo Event ("Expo98"). On the 22nd of May iBB members Prof. Rodrigo Costa, Dr. Tina Keller Costa, B.Sc. Inês Raimundo, M.Sc. Rúben Silva and undergrad student Carlos Clara will be participating in an exposition showing diverse subjects around ocean sciences (“O Mar de Alto a Baixo”). The team will focus on "the wonders of the marine bacterial world". They will show specimens of marine invertebrates, such as sponges and corals, which deeply interact with marine bacteria. Bioluminescence-, biofilm- and antibiotic-producing bacterial cultures will be exhibited to the wide audience.

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Study of Legionella pneumophila Virulence in a Galleria mellonella Infection Model

Study of Legionella pneumophila Virulence in a Galleria mellonella Infection Model | iBB | Scoop.it

Legionella pneumophila is ubiquitous in freshwater environments and in man-made water systems. Most studies on L. pneumophila virulence focus on clinical strains and isolates from man-made environments, but little is known about the nature and extent of virulence  in strains isolated from natural environments. In a recent publication in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Leonilde M. Moreira from BSRG-iBB, in collaboration with the group of Joana Costa from University of Coimbra, studied whether unrelated L. pneumophila strains, isolated from different environments, displayed differences in virulence, using the infection model Galleria mellonella. The work suggests that in water distribution systems, environmental filtering selection and biotic competition structure L. pneumophila populations by selecting more resilient and adapted strains that can rise to high concentration if unchecked. Click on title to learn more.

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Repair of Iron Centers Protein Contributes to the Virulence of Staphylococcus aureus

Repair of Iron Centers Protein Contributes to the Virulence of Staphylococcus aureus | iBB | Scoop.it

RICs are a family of bacterial proteins involved in the repair of iron center-containing proteins damaged by antimicrobial reactive species liberated by the innate immune system of infected hosts. In a recent paper published in the journal Virulence, researchers from BSRG-iBB (Dalila Mil-Homens and Arsénio M. Fialho) have collaborated with the group of Lígia M. Saraiva from ITQB NOVA, to unveil the role played by RIC protein in S. aureus pathogenesis. More specifically, culture macrophages, human lung epithelial cells and an animal infection model (the larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella) were used to investigate the virulence of wild-type S. aureus vs ric mutant. Altogether, the data show that RIC is important for the virulence of S. aureus. Click on title to learn more.

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The ABC Transporters Pdr18 and Snq2 Derive from a Recent Gene Duplication Event

The ABC Transporters Pdr18 and Snq2 Derive from a Recent Gene Duplication Event | iBB | Scoop.it

Several membrane transporters from the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily present in yeast genomes are implicated in multidrug/multixenobiotic resistance (MDR/MXR). This is the case of Pdr18, that confers tolerance to ethanol and acetic acid and several other toxicants in yeast and has a biological role attributed in ergosterol transport at the plasma membrane. A recently iBB-BSRG paper published in Frontiers in Genetics, Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology section, reconstructs the evolutionary history of the encoding gene PDR18 and the paralogue gene SNQ2. This publication results from the PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences of Cláudia P. Godinho advised by Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia with collaboration of Paulo J. Dias and Elise Ponçot. By combining phylogenetic gene neighborhood analysis for 117 yeast genomes belonging to 29 species across the Saccharomycetaceae family, the gene duplication event was traced to the last common ancestor of the Saccharomyces genus yeasts. The fact that Snq2 and Pdr18 confer resistance to different sets of chemical compounds with little overlapping is consistent with the subfunctionalization and neofunctionalization of these gene copies. Remarkably, PDR18 is only found in Saccharomyces genus genomes. 

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International Microorganism Day: Interactive Exhibition, Quiz, Short talks and Craft Beer at IST

International Microorganism Day: Interactive Exhibition, Quiz, Short talks and Craft Beer at IST | iBB | Scoop.it

The Portuguese Society of Microbiology (SPM) in collaboration with researchers from BSRG-iBB, celebrated the 2nd edition of the International Microorganism Day (IMD 2018) at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). An interactive exhibition in the IST main building featured several national institutions  (Faculty of Sciences/cE3c, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, IST-iBB of Universidade de Lisboa, The Institute for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, University of Évora/Hercules, University of Coimbra, and University of Minho/CBMA. In an entertaining and dynamic quiz organized by young researchers from iBB and graduate students from “Núcleos de Engenharia Biológica (NEB) e Engenharia Biomédica (NEBM) do IST”, the visitors could then test what they had learnt about microorganisms. At the end of an enriching day full of presentations and hands-on experiences, a tasty and refreshing craft beer locally produced by “Clube de Cervejeiros do IST” and the commercial "Cerveja D'Ourique" was waiting for thirsty (adult) visitors.

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Microbial Infections and Cancer Therapy

Microbial Infections and Cancer Therapy | iBB | Scoop.it

The book "Microbial Infections and Cancer Therapy", co-edited by Arsénio Fialho from BSRG-iBB in collaboration with Ananda Chakrabarty (University of Illinois) has just been released by Pan Stanford Publishing. The book deals with the emerging concept that certain pathogenic bacteria and viruses, when infecting people with cancer, actively fight tumors, allowing their regression. It features 12 chapters written by pioneers in microbial, biotech, and cancer research and covers the emerging roles of various microorganisms and their products in cancer therapy. The book highlights the benefits of using conventional cancer treatments (such as chemo- and radiotherapies) with microbial-based therapies.

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Antimicrobial Properties of Camphor-Derived Silver Complexes

Antimicrobial Properties of Camphor-Derived Silver Complexes | iBB | Scoop.it

The emergence of bacterial resistance to available antimicrobials has prompted the search for novel antibacterial compounds to overcome this public health problem. Metal-based complexes have been much less explored than organic compounds as antimicrobials, leading to investigations of the antimicrobial properties of selected complexes in which silver may occupy the frontline due to its use as medicine since ancient times. Like silver, camphor has also long been used for medicinal purposes. However, in both cases, limited information exists concerning the mechanisms of their antimicrobial action. In a recent collaborative work by the research group headed by Jorge H. Leitão from BSRG/iBB and M. Fernanda Carvalho from CQE, the present knowledge of the antimicrobial properties of camphor-derived silver complexes is reviewed, focusing on recent research on the synthesis and antimicrobial properties of complexes based on silver and camphor imines. Selected examples of the structure and antimicrobial activity relationships of ligands studied so far are presented, showing the potential of silver camphorimine complexes as novel antimicrobials. The review was published in the journal Antibiotics.

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Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of Pesticide Action in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of Pesticide Action in Saccharomyces cerevisiae | iBB | Scoop.it

Accidental spills or careless storage and disposal of pesticides may lead to environmental contamination posing possible risks for non-target microbes and higher eukaryotes in ecosystems. In a recent publication in the journal Ecotoxicology, iBB-BSRG researchers led by Cristina A. Viegas, in collaboration with Jörg D. Becker from IGC, reported a comparative transcriptomic analysis of the responses to sub-lethal levels of six environmentally relevant pesticides in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae model species. A number of predictions of biological pathways and mechanisms emerged from this study in yeast, which are relevant to better understand the potential mode of action and adverse side-effects of these pesticides in biological systems.

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Advancing the Development of Vaccines Against Bacteria of the Burkholderia cepacia complex

Advancing the Development of Vaccines Against Bacteria of the Burkholderia cepacia complex | iBB | Scoop.it

 Bacteria of the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) remain an important cause of morbidity and mortality among patients suffering from cystic fibrosis. Eradication of these pathogens by antimicrobial therapy often fails, highlighting the need to develop novel strategies to eradicate infections. Vaccines are attractive since they can confer protection to particularly vulnerable patients, as is the case of cystic fibrosis patients. Several studies have identified specific virulence factors and proteins as potential subunit vaccine candidates. So far, no vaccine is available to protect from Bcc infections. In a recent publication in the journal Vaccines, iBB-BSRG researchers Sílvia Sousa, António M. Seixas and Jorge H. Leitão review the most promising postgenomic approaches and selected web tools available to speed up the identification of immunogenic proteins with the potential of conferring protection against Bcc infections.

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Mixed Regulatory-Metabolic Genome-Scale Models in Yeasts

Mixed Regulatory-Metabolic Genome-Scale Models in Yeasts | iBB | Scoop.it

The project "MIXED-UP: Targeting pathogenesis and engineering cell factories: developing mixed regulatory-metabolic genome-scale models in yeasts" has been recommended for funding by FCT (2017 Call for SR&TD Project Grants). The goal of MIXED-UP is to develop genomic scale mathematical models that describe the complete metabolic and regulatory networks in yeasts of biotechnological and clinical relevance. These mathematical models will be used for the in silico prediction of the best proteins or pathways to target for the development of improved yeast cell factories. They will also enable the identification of the key regulatory or metabolic steps that constitute the best drug targets, aiming the development of new antifungal drugs for the treatment of superficial and invasive candidiasis. The project, which falls within the scientific area of Industrial Biotechnology, is headed by Miguel Teixeira from BSRG-iBB and involves a consortia of partners from the University of Minho, INESC-ID and IGC.

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Impact of Microbiome Healing on Fish Larviculture

Impact of Microbiome Healing on Fish Larviculture | iBB | Scoop.it

The project "MicroControl: Exploiting the healing capacity of nature´s microbiomes for improved fish larviculture" has been recommended for funding by FCT (2017 Call for SR&TD Project Grants). The goal of MicroControl is to develop multi-species cocktails of beneficial fish symbionts to prevent bacterial disease incidence during fish larval rearing, a stage at which fish individuals are highly susceptible to acute outbreaks that pronouncedly impact land-based rearing of hundreds of economically important species. The team will conduct larval rearing trials under “microbiome therapy” to address the effectiveness of the approach in gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), the third most cultivated fish species worldwide. The project, which falls within the scientific area of Biological Sciences, is headed by Rodrigo Costa from BSRG-iBB and involves a collaboration with Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera.

 

Photo details: Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) larva, from Sara I.C. Castanho, “The potential of Asparagopsis armata to control the bacterial load associated to live feed to improve Seabream (Sparus aurata) larvae performance”, MSc Thesis., Algarve University, Portugal, June 2014.

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Overexpression of HAA1 and PRS3 Boosts Yeast Tolerance to Acetic Acid by Improving Xylose or Glucose Fermentation

Overexpression of HAA1 and PRS3 Boosts Yeast Tolerance to Acetic Acid by Improving Xylose or Glucose Fermentation | iBB | Scoop.it

Acetic acid tolerance and xylose consumption are desirable traits for yeast strains used in industrial biotechnology. In this work, overexpression of a weak acid stress transcriptional activator encoded by the gene HAA1 and a phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate synthetase encoded by PRS3 in a recombinant industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain containing a xylose metabolic pathway, resulted in superior growth and higher sugar consumption in the presence of 4 g/L acetic acid. The overexpression of HAA1 (studied in depth at BSRG-iBB) and/or PRS3 was found to increase the robustness of yeast cell wall when challenged with acetic acid stress, suggesting the involvement of the modulation of the cell wall integrity pathway. The results expand the molecular toolbox and add to the current understanding of the mechanisms involved in higher acetic acid tolerance, paving the way for the further development of more efficient industrial processes. The paper, published in Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol., brings together the expertise of Isabel Sá-Correia’s research group at BSRG-iBB and of Lucília Domingues’s team at University of Minho, including the MIT-Portugal PhD student Joana Cunha.

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Detecting Signatures of a Sponge‐Associated Lifestyle in Bacterial Genomes

Detecting Signatures of a Sponge‐Associated Lifestyle in Bacterial Genomes | iBB | Scoop.it

In a collaborative effort led by Prof. Torsten Thomas & Group at UNSW (Australia), with participation of Prof. Rodrigo Costa from iBB, the existence of “life-style” (symbiotic vs. free-living)-specific functions among marine bacteria is deeply interrogated within the genera Aquimarina, Pseudovibrio, Ruegeria (culturable marine sponge symbionts) and Synechococcus (“yet-to-be-cultured” marine sponge symbionts). The team finds that the detection of life-style specific functions is realistic within symbionts specifically adapting to a given host than within generalist symbionts common to several hosts, which usually show several adaptive features to an existence in the free-living environment. Click on title to learne more. 

 

Photo Details: The marine sponge Sarcotragus spinosulus next to a sea anemone on rocky bottom off the Algarve coast, South Portugal. Copyright Rodrigo Costa.

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Nuno Bernardes Wins Poster Prize at 3rd ASPIC Congress

Nuno Bernardes Wins Poster Prize at 3rd ASPIC Congress | iBB | Scoop.it

iBB researcher Nuno Bernardes was awarded one of the Poster Prizes sponsored by the European Association for Cancer Research at the 3rd Congress of ASPIC - Associação Portuguesa de Investigação em Cancro. The work entitled “Modulation of membrane properties and interaction with lipid rafts components GM-1 and caveolin-1 in cancer cells by azurin increases membrane fluidity and sensitivity to anti-cancer drugs” was developed at BSRG-iBB, led by Prof. Arsénio Fialho in collaboration with colleagues from the CQFM-IST, Sandra N Pinto and Fábio Fernandes.

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Acetic Acid tolerance in Yeasts - A Physiological Genomics Perspective

Acetic Acid tolerance in Yeasts - A Physiological Genomics Perspective | iBB | Scoop.it

Acetic acid is an important yeast growth inhibitor. Used as a food preservative, it is produced during normal metabolism and is a major inhibitory compound in lignocellulosic hydrolysates. The molecular mechanisms underlying Saccharomyces cerevisiae response and adaptation to acetic acid have been studied for years. More recently they have been examined in the food spoilage yeast Zygosaccharomyces bailii, in particular at BSRG-iBB by Isabel Sá-Correia and Margarida Palma. A review paper published by the group in Frontiers in Microbiology emphasizes genome-wide strategies that are providing global insights into the molecular targets, signaling pathways and mechanisms behind S. cerevisiae and Z. bailii response/tolerance to acetic acid. The paper was published within the topic “Functional and Comparative Genomics of Saccharomyces and non-Saccharomyces yeasts: potential for Industrial and Food Biotechnology” of the Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology section, edited by I. Sá-Correia and Ed Louis, University of Leicester, UK.

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