Mirela Rodrigues Ferreira

Class 2019Mirela Ferreira


PhD thesis

Molecular players involved in the transition of free-cells to multicellular aggregates in Burkholderia multivorans



• Leonilde Moreira, Professor @ IST/ULisboa, PT

• Arsénio Fialho, Professor @ IST/ULisboa, PT


• Vaughn Cooper, Professor @ Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine (CEBM),Pittsburgh University, USA


Proposal summary

Bacterial surface-attached biofilms and mobile biofilms (planktonic aggregates) are cells communities embedded in a self-produced extracellular matrix. Intercellular interactions, together with the properties of the matrix, make this multicellular lifestyle clearly distinct from that of free-living bacterial cells. Thus, it is expected that these communities display new properties only emerging in biofilms. In line with this, the aggregates formed by Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteria within the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients are thought to be crucial for persistence and antimicrobial resistance during long-term chronic respiratory infections. To understand the transition from free-cells to aggregates we have developed an easier assay to measure biofilm formation and identified novel genes involved in this process. In here, we propose the characterization of this multicellular phenotype at gene expression level, microscopic ultrastructure, functional analysis of relevant gene products and evaluation of their role as possible targets for drug development against this pathogenesis-associated aggregative behavior.



Ferreira MR, Gomes SC, Moreira LM., “Mucoid switch in Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteria: Triggers, molecular mechanisms, and implications in pathogenesis”, Advances in Applied Microbiology, 107, 113-140, 2019



• General Doctoral Training (6 ECTS)

• Advanced Experimental Techniques and methodologies (6 ECTS)

• Bioentrepreneurship (6 ECTS)

• Molecular and cellular Biophysics (6 ECTS)

• Outreach and Teaching Skills (6 ECTS)

• Stem Cell Engineering (6 ECTS)