Portuguese woman, scientist.
I am currently doing a PhD at the University of Burgundy (Dijon, France) and my research topic involves the interactions between microorganisms and minerals.
I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology and Master’s Degree in Geosciences (in the field of Petroleum geology) from University of Coimbra (Portugal). I have worked during the past two years in a project funded by Europlanet (EUROPLANET2020 Research Infrastructure) at University of Bologna (Italy), intitled “Astrobiological potential of microbial biogeomorphology in arid, evaporate dominated environments: an aid to the use of image spectrometers in future landed missions on Mars”. The project was focused on the investigation, in an astrobiological perspective, of the surface morphologies produced during on-going, mixed sulphate-carbonate mineral precipitations in the sabkha Oum Dba of the Western Sahara, approx. 45 km north of the city of Laayoune (Morocco). My study focused on both modern and fossil carbonate deposits, facies description, identification of the microbial communities and the controlling factors that originated the carbonate deposits (biotic versus abiotic).
In the framework of my PhD project intitled “The role of cyanobacteria in carbonate precipitation”, my investigations focus on the mechanisms involved in the precipitation of carbonate minerals by cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are the dominant primary producers in most modern microbial mats in which they play a key role in the production of carbonates. In this study, I use a combination of lab- and field-based methods to increase fundamental understanding of cyanobacterial metabolism and the extracellular organic matter (EPS and LMWOC) with respect to carbonate minerals formation (both in lab and in natural conditions). The identification the cyanobacterial metabolism, which conditions may promote carbonate precipitation and allow conservation of microbial carbonate deposits, can help us to explain why some mats can lithify and others not and provide clues to access the biogenicity in the fossil record. We attempt to link the experimental results to observations in relict and fossil microbialite samples.
My scientific interests also include aspects related to sedimentology, microbial paleontology, and astrobiology linked to the formation, preservation, and detection of microbial biosignatures in carbonate deposits. I am particularly interested in the study extreme environments such as hypersaline and hydrothermal settings.
I am also interested in the study of cyanobacteria and their role in the decomposition of complex organic matter, their bioproduts (biofuels or pharmaceutical) and their role in oceans acidification (photosynthetic CO2 fixing mechanism).