National R&D


Bioremediation of hydrocarbon pollutants by autochthonous microorganisms in aquatic environment

Principal Investigator
Team Leader

Ana Paula Mucha has a Degree in Aquatic Sciences (1993), a MSc in Ecology, Management and Modelling of Aquatic Resources (1997) and a PhD in Aquatic Sciences (2002). She has a research position at CIIMAR, University of Porto, Portugal, being member of the Board of Directors and the Principal Investigator of the ECOBIOTEC Team (Bioremediation and Ecosystems Functioning).

Also, she is an Invited Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology of Faculty of Sciences of University of Porto. She focuses her research on the relation between microorganisms and contaminants, aiming the development of bioremediation technologies for ecosystems recovery and environmental sustainability. She also explores the microbe-plant associations for the development of nature-based solutions for water management, and the microbe-animal interactions to increase environmental sustainability of aquaculture production.

She authored ca. 90 SCI papers including high profile journals in the field of Marine and Environmental Sciences. She has been involved in multiple regional, national and international projects, and presently coordinates CIIMAR participation in the European project “BIOSYSMO – BIOremediation systems exploiting SYnergieS for improved removal of Mixed pOllutants” (GAP-101060211). Also she coordinates the project “Ocean3R – Reduce pressures, restore and regenerate the NW-Portuguese ocean and waters” (NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000064), and the Research Line 4 (Marine biobanks as tools for marine biotechnology) in the structured program of R&D ATLANTIDA – Platform for the monitoring of the North Atlantic Ocean and tools for the sustainable exploitation of the marine resources” (NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000040). In addition, she has been involved as supervisor in several national and European Master and PhD programmes, and presently she co-coordinates the FCUP team responsible for the M2ex-European Joint Doctorate “Exploiting metal-microbe applications to expand the circular economy” (European Union; Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 861088).


No results found.

The overall aim of the BIOREM project is the implementation of an innovative and environmental friendly solution to tackle with with one of the most damaging sources of maritime pollution: spills of oil and marine fuels. This solution will be based on the production of autochthonous microbial consortia with bioremediation capacity, and the adaptation of unmanned aerial vehicles for in-situ release of autochthonous microorganisms (bioaugmentation) and nutrients (biostimulation). By doing so, these systems can be used as first line responders to pollution incidents in a fast, efficient and low cost way. Such innovative solutions aim to: (i) be environment-friendly, by using native organisms to naturally degrade oil spills, and thus avoiding the introduction of additional chemical or biological additives; (ii) integrate spill combat missions, by using unmanned aerial vehicles, which are able to operate under unfavourable and harsh conditions with low human intervention; (iii) increase the overall efficiency of the spill combat, by acting on defined targets and areas; (iv) decrease the overall time to reaction and mission costs, by using unmanned aerial vehicles, whose deployment is faster and less costly than using boats, planes or helicopters.
The project is based on previous expertize of CIIMAR to produce native microbial consortia to degrade petroleum hydrocarbons, and on its previous experience in development of protocols to response to oil spills, and on the large experience of INESC TEC regarding the development and adaptation of autonomous vehicles for marine applications.
The project will start by identifying the operational needs to respond to spill incidents with oil or marine fuels in estuarine and coastal zones. After that, a georeferenced library of microbial strains with hydrocarbon bioremediation capacity native of the target region, will be created for further development of the microbial consortia. In addition, consortia production for large scale application will be optimized. Unmanned aerial vehicles will be adapted for application of the bioremediation agents, thus providing a fist-line response in the spill combat missions. Finally, this innovative solution will be validated through field tests and the proof-of-concept will be demonstrated at a ?quasi-real? scenario.
BIOREM is a result-oriented project, resulting in tangible deliverables, such as innovative products and services that include: a library of native microbial consortia for bioremediation; cocktails of additives to stimulate the microbial consortia activity; a devices for application of bioremediation treatments by unmanned aerial vehicles; and an integrated protocol for bioremediation application. The combination of these technologies will enable fast response to maritime pollution incidents with oil or maritime fuels that may occur inside ports, around industrial and extraction facilities, or during transport activities.

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