Lopes Isabel
Sara Costa, Amadeu Soares
GERMINA - Contaminant-driven Genetic ERosion and loss of skin Microbial diversity in chemically-Impacted populatioNs of Amphibians
The Estarreja region experiences a scenario of long-term chemical contamination. The effects that this contamination may cause on the genetic diversity of amphibian populations, by eroding it, have not been addressed, though it may compromise the evolutionary plasticity, resilience and reliability of those populations. In addition, exposure to chemical contamination may cause the loss of skin microbial diversity that may turn amphibians more susceptible to chemical contamination and/or pathogens, thus potentiating their risk of extinction. The study of these type of effects in amphibian populations is particularly important, as they are identified as the vertebrate group with the highest proportion of endangered species (approximately 32%) and with at least 43% of its species declining worldwide. Adding to this, amphibians are very sensitive to chemical contamination, are relatively limited in their dispersal (implying restricted gene flow) and their populations are usually small sized, which makes them more susceptible to contaminant-driven bottlenecks and genetic erosion events. In this context, the present proposal aims at assessing the occurrence of contaminant-driven genetic erosion and loss of skin microbial diversity in natural populations of amphibians inhabiting the contaminated region of Estarreja, to engage a better and broader protection of these populations.
Projet OHMs
OHM(s) concerné(s)
  • Estarreja


Isabel Lopes (IL), holds a PhD in Biology, is a Principal Researcher at the University of Aveiro and is the Coordinator of the Research Group Functional Biodiversity of the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies. Her research is mainly focused in ecological risk assessment and development of ecotoxicological tools to reduce uncertainties associated with risk assessment and in evolutionary ecotoxicology. Within these research areas she was involved in several international and national projects, being the coordinator of a bilateral project between Portugal-Brasil and five national projects funded by FCT. At present, IL published three book chapters, 65 papers in international peer review journals, of which one was awarded with the prize of best publication within the research area of Evolutive Biology (h-index of 18). She also published 17 papers at national and other international peer review journals and performed more than 100 presentations at national and international scientific meetings (5 being awarded as best communication). IL is/was the supervisor of 26 graduation students, 20 MSc studens, 14 PhD students, and 4 Postdoctoral researchers (from national and abroad universities: e.g. from Brazil, Spain, Italy).


Sara Daniela Azevedo Costa, graduated in Biology in 2011 (University of Porto), Master’s in Applied Ecology and currently a PhD student at Aveiro University, in Biology and Ecology of Global Changes developing the project: Resilience of natural populations of amphibians living under a changing world: the role played by its skin microbiome. Sara Costa holds a great interest in herpetology in general and a solid background in field work. Her expertise is focused on understanding the effects of environmental changes, as metal contamination and freshwater salinisation, on amphibian populations: survival, food intake, growth, behaviour and physiology. Other competences are focused on the amphibian skin microbiome characterization and their function against pathogenic agents, the use of ecotoxicology to assess the role of the environment perturbations on the amphibian/ pathogen dynamic. Author/co-author of 2 articles in SCI journals and 9 communications to national and international conferences and, as an enthusiast on scientific communication, 3 publications on online journals. Awarded in 2015 by the Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) and Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) Seed Grants Funding program within the project “Ecotoxicological Studies as a tool on amphibians disease risk assessment”. At present Sara Costa is developing her PhD work within the project “
Resilience of natural populations of amphibians living under a changing world: the role played by its skin microbiome”.
Amadeu Soares (AS) is a Full professor at the University of Aveiro and is the Head of the Department of Biology of this University since 2001. His research is mainly focused in ecotoxicology, ecological risk assessment and functional biodiversity. He published more than 500 papers at international peer review journals, 6 book chapters, 5 books (h-index =34), and participated in several international (13 as coordinator) and national (15 as coordinator) research projects with diverse fundings (European Union, FCT, and several industries). Furthermore, he integrated/coordinated more than 40 panels for the evaluation of projects, grants, programs and incorporated several scientific committees of the European Union, such as the Advisory Group European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods and the EFSA panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed. AS is/was the supervisor of more than 50 MSc and 70 PhD students and over 35 post-doctoral researchers. AS won more than 5 national and international scientific prizes, namely the SETAC-Europe 2013 Environmental Education Award and the “Estímulo à Ciência-Stimulus for Science” of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Higher Education.