Nuno Ferreira
Peter Kille, Laura Guimarães,Miguel Oliveira
ENCASE - EpigeNetic traits: a CAse Study from organisms living near the Estarreja Chemical Complex.
The vicinity of Estarreja Chemical Complex (ECC) has a long history of soil, surface and groundwater contamination. Here, solid wastes from operating industry have been deposited in a landfill and sludge park without treatment, releasing contaminants to its surrounding. Along with the inorganic contamination, organic compounds and pharmaceuticals resulting from agricultural and cattle activities also contribute to the overall contamination. Organisms inhabiting vicinity grounds, and the river, have adapted to survive in this hostile environment and can provide essential clues to be used in similar scenarios. By evaluating the somatic epigenetic variations of soil and water organisms, it is possible to determine which mechanisms are involved in tolerance and plasticity. The proposal integrates OHM-Estarreja (2017) topic “Evolution of Biodiversity: evaluation of ecosystems’ modifications in Ria de Aveiro”.

The ENCASE project will collect soil and water samples from the vicinity of the ECC and will use them in exposure assays with terrestrial (isopods and annelids) and aquatic organisms (daphnids and fish embryos). This will allow comparing methylation percentage and expression of DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferases (DNMT) from exposed and non-exposed organisms. Over the last decades, several studies indicated a role for methylation and DNMTs in epigenetic events, but their involvement in toxic responses and adaptation of wild organisms to environmental contamination is still poorly understood. Since different taxa present different methylation patterns, the results will allow us to determine how the epigenetic modifications are acting and may serve as a base for future identification of other epigenetic traits in local organisms.
Projet OHMs
OHM(s) concerné(s)
  • Estarreja
Biochimie, Biologie, Chimie, Zoologie


Nuno Gonçalo de Carvalho Ferreira, completed his PhD in Biology - Specialization in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Biology in 2014, Master in Master in Toxicology and Ecotoxicology in 2009 and Bachelor in Biology in 2008, all awarded by the University of Aveiro. He is a Research Fellow at the Cardiff University - School of Biosciences. He has published 21 articles in specialized journals and received four awards and one honour. He works in the areas of Natural Sciences with emphasis on Earth Sciences and Environment, Biodiversity Conservation and Molecular Biology with emphasis on Environmental Sciences. In his professional activities, he interacted with more than 110 collaborators in co-authorship of scientific works.


Please see attached CV
Please see attached CV
Please see attached CV