A general goal has been to understand how biology uses protein structures to control the reactivity of complex metal centers, to activate molecular oxygen for a variety of catalytic functions. The group has been particularly focused on the study of the iron oxidation reaction catalyzed by maxi-ferritins (ferrritins and bacterioferritins) and DNA-binding protein from starved cells (Dps) from anaerobic organisms, as well as in the iron release mechanism and DNA-protein interaction. 

The biologic effect of ionising radiation in macromolecules, particularly metalloenzymes, has been under study. Also, correlation between radiation effects and metabolites resulting from oxidative stress has been under focus.

Other projects of interest are:

  • Study of an oxidative stress sensor - PerR – in a strict anaerobic bacterium - Desulfovibrio vulgaris. This bacterial repressor, which contains a zinc structural center and an iron-containing active site, regulates the expression of oxidative stress protection enzymes, such as catalase or bacterioferritins. 
  • Study of a hemic protein, isolated from the bacteria Shewanella baltica, which binds molecular oxygen and has a highly unusual axial coordination.
  • Pharmacological compounds detection and development of micro-sensors for physiological and environmental matrices.
  • Biofilms electroactivity (sulfate reducing bacteria, SRB) and its influence on microbiological influenced corrosion (MIC).
  • Protein and enzymes mechanistic, kinetic and electrocatalytic activity and its immobilization on novel biocompatible conducting matrices based on ionic liquids hydrogels aiming biosensor and energy production devices.

A series of different techniques are applied on these studies, namely biochemical techniques, molecular biology methods and various spectroscopies (UV/visible, EPR and Mössbauer) in conjunction with fast kinetic techniques (stopped-flow and rapid-freeze quench). Also, methodologies and techniques, such as cyclic and fast pulse voltammetry in static and hydrodynamic regimes (RDE), either in bulk or in immobilized systems, electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance, spectroelectrochemistry, bare and modified microelectrodes and low cost matrices such as screen-printed electrodes are used

Teaching and scientific diffusion of Biochemistry and Biophysics should be faced as extremely important activities since promote knowledge transmission and establish links between scientific research and society. As such, there is a string commitment in the production of pedagogic materials (such as websites that support lectured courses) as well as the participation in scientific divulgation projects (Ciência Viva, Pulse Project, Days of Chemistry, and FCT/UNL Open Days) and meeting organizing committees.