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Molecular Evolution and Ecology

Group Leader: José Paulo Sampaio

This group brings together researchers with shared scientific objectives and a methodological emphasis on molecular tools with the aim of building up critical mass and maximizing resources and synergies. Future research will follow up on previous studies of different issues in fungal biology within an evolutionary context. It is expected that genomic approaches and genomic data will be gradually integrated into the various research projects. Fungi have been the target organisms used by the researchers in this group but we do not exclude that other model organisms be the focus of future studies.

Researchers (PhD)

Álvaro Fonseca

Paula Gonçalves

João Almeida

Marco Coelho

Alan Phillips



  • To assess population structure, reproductive modes and biogeographic patterns within the framework of evolutionary ecology

  • To employ existing bioinformatics tools and develop new ones to link the molecular data with meaningful morphological, biochemical or ecological traits

  • To study gene and/or genome evolution in connection with phenotypes and ecology in order to gain insights on speciation processes of sibling species

  • To pursue the elucidation of taxonomic relationships at both the generic and species level in different fungal groups on the basis of molecular phylogenetic and phylogenomic approaches  

Main themes:

Structure and evolution of fungal mating type loci; elucidation of the molecular basis for sexual behaviour in various lineages of the basidiomycetes

Allochthonous and autochthonous yeast populations in aquatic environments and applied studies: yeasts as bioindicators

Evolutionary ecology focussed on the genera Saccharomyces and Phaffia

Providing clear and unambiguous species definitions in plant pathogenic fungi: a tool for the diagnosis and control of plant diseases

Development of bioinformatic tools: bidirectional BLAST annotation tool for the identification of orthologs



  • Project nº POCI/MAR/58130/2004.- Yeasts as bio-indicators of polluted estuarine and coastal waters). December 2005–December 2008 (PI: J.P. Sampaio)
  • Project nº PTDC/BIA-BDE/71734/2006. Evolutionary ecology of wild populations of Saccharomyces from the bark of Fagaceae. November 2007–December 2010 (PI: J.P. Sampaio)
  • Project nº PTDC/BIA-BDE/73566/2006. Worldwide biogeography of the astaxanthin-producing yeast Phaffia rhodozyma: Mapping populations and host associations. November 2007–December 2010 (PI: J.P. Sampaio)


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