Susana C. Gonçalves
Phone: +351 239855249
e-mail: send email
Category: Post-doctoral researcher
Department: Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra
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Academic Achievements

PhD, Biology (Ecology), FCTUC, 2008. 

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis and the ecology and evolution of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Specific areas of research include:

1. Serpentine soil ecology: looking at fungal local adaptation - mechanisms of adaptive tolerance to serpentine soils in Cenococcum geophilum (Ni, drought, Ca/Mg); genetic basis of serpentine adaptation in C. geophilum; ecology and evolution of the Ni hyperaccumulation trait in Alyssum pintodasilvae.

2. Invasion biology - genetic and ecological controls on host associations of Amanita phalloides in its native range of distribution; niche shifts associated with range expansion in A. phalloides; biogeography of Amanita muscaria s.l.

3. Edible mycorrhizal mushrooms - evaluation monitoring of edible mycorrhizal fungi productivity in maritime pine forests; adaptive management of maritime pine forests for the sustainable harvesting of edible mycorrhizal fungi; development of molecular markers for the detection of target species.

4. Conservation Biology of Fungi - monitoring diversity, abundance, and phenology of macrofungi in Portugal; Citizen Science.

Current research projects
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Both PhD and MSa projects are available for the project outlined below. If interested, do not hesitate to contact me.

CENECOGEN - Insights into the adaptation of Cenococcum geophilum to serpentine soil: ecology and genomics combined (FCT funded; PTDC/BIABEC/100733/2008)

Cenococcum geophilum Fr. is a cosmopolitan ectomycorrhizal fungus that can be found in serpentine soil, and recent studies suggested that constitutive drought tolerance and adaptively evolved tolerance to nickel contribute to its serpentine tolerance (Gonçalves et al. 2007, 2009). However, the exact mechanisms and genetic components of this tolerance trait remain unknown and therefore we propose a genome-wide study to identify genetic loci associated with serpentine tolerance in C. geophilum. We are particularly interested in the contribution of heavy metal tolerance to the multifactorial trait of serpentine tolerance in C. geophilum, and therefore intend a genome-wide association mapping to identify loci specifically associated with nickel tolerance.

Because genomic resources are currently unavailable for C. geophilum, the project will involve determination of its genome sequence using recently developed massively parallel sequencing technology. Genome sequence information will be obtained for both a serpentine tolerant and a serpentine sensitive isolate, which will allow the development of an oligonucleotide microarray platform suited for high-throughput and large-scale genotyping of C. geophilum isolates. Association mapping will be performed using phenotype data obtained with an in vitro nickel sensitivity assay and genotype data obtained with the forementioned microarray platform for C. geophilum isolates collected from serpentine and nonserpentine soils. In addition, the collected data will be analyzed using environmental association mapping and genome scanning for selective sweeps in order to identify genetic loci that are associated with traits other than nickel tolerance that contribute to serpentine tolerance.

Expected results of this project will provide insight into the mechanisms underlying adaptive serpentine tolerance in C. geophilum: information will be obtained about the number of loci involved in nickel tolerance and their chromosomal location, and additional traits, other than nickel tolerance, that contribute to serpentine tolerance in C. geophilum may be revealed. In addition, development of genomic resources for C. geophilum will be a major benefit to the international ectomycorrhizal research community and will provide a good basis for the establishment of C. geophilum as a model species for studies in ecological genomics of ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Amanita phalloides (from Google images)

Both PhD and MSa projects are available for the project outlined below. If interested, do not hesitate to contact me.

AMANITA - What makes Amanita phalloides a successful invader? Insights from studies in its native range (FCT funded;PTDC/BIA-BIC/122142/2010)

Recent data provided evidence for an European origin of North American populations of the ECM fungus Amanita phalloides (Pringle et al. 2009, Wolfe et al. 2010). In California, A. phalloides is spreading and has been shown to predominantly associate with native Quercus agrifolia (Wolfe et al. 2010). In contrast, in the east coast it is considered relatively rare and appears most often associated with Pinus spp. in planted forests (Wolfe et al. 2010). In Europe (the native range of A. phalloides), systematic surveys on host associations of A. phalloides have never been made. Even though A. phalloides appears to be a generalist species, the hypothesis of mutualists' flexibility in native and introduced ranges (Richardson et al. 2000) is at odds with available data on host associations of A. phalloides in North America. The research described in this proposal aims at dissecting possible genetic and ecological controls on host associations of A. phalloides in its native range. We hypothesize that: 1) A. phalloides associates with a wide phylogenetic range of hosts in Europe, 2) Different lineages of A. phalloides associate with different hosts in the native range, and 3) Diversity of ECM fungi communities determines the abundance of A. phalloides in those communities.

When fruiting, ECM fungi are charismatic features of forests. However, fungal individuals are typically hidden within soil. Thus, ecologists must take advantage of the current array of tools that allow peeking into the soil "black box". We will use a variety of molecular tools that have been developed for A. phalloides, including inexpensive and high-throughput diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for identifying the species from root tips, and protocols for genetic fingerprinting of sporocarps using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs). To estimate the abundance of extramatrical mycelia of A. phalloides relative to other fungi in the ECM fungal community, we will follow a mesh bag approach (Wallander et al. 2001) and use real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). Profiling of ECM fungal communities will be performed using the recently developed 454 pyrosequencing technology.

Expected results from this research project will provide insight into the behavior of the ECM A. phalloides in North America, where it was introduced (Pringle et al. 2009). More specifically, the results will provide information about the genetic and ecological mechanisms controlling host associations of A. phalloides, and will elucidate how changes in belowground symbiosis between ECM fungi and their hosts may facilitate or constrain the invasion process, providing the basis for the development of A. phalloides as a model in the field of invasion biology of ECM fungi.

!Award! - I´ve been awarded a FLAD/NSF grant (12 500,00 EUR) to develop my collaboration with Anne Pringle on A.phalloides.

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MUSHROOM WATCH - a citizen science project for the study of macrofungi in Portugal (Submitted to EDP Biodiversity Fund; in Portuguese)

Relevant advanced training

Advanced courses

2011  -  Data analysis tools in Ecology: The use of Generalized Linear Models (GLM) and Generalized Additive Models (GAM) (Alain Zuur and Elena Leno, lecturers). Advanced Course. IMAR, Coimbra University, 7-11 Feb, Portugal 

2008 - CEBT 2008 - Technological entrepreneurship. Course. Coimbra University, 27Fev-6Jun, Portugal

2006 - Heavy metal resistance: microbial and plant multiple dynamic equilibrium in response to heavy metal pandemonium. Advanced course. IAV, Coimbra University, 18-23 Sep, Portugal 

2005 - Proteomics: from sample preparation to protein identification. Advanced course. CNC, Coimbra University, 28 Jun-1 Jul, Portugal


2009 - Ecological approaches to analyzing complex community datasets. FESIN workshop. Snowbird, Utah, 25-26 July, USA

Visits to foreigner institutions/labs

2009  -  Visiting PostDoc researcher at Thomas D Bruns Lab. University of California at Berkeley, 26 Jun-18 Sep, USA

2006 - Visiting PhD student at Graziela Berta Lab. University of Piemonte Orientale at Alessandria, 4Mar-1 Abr, Italy

Other ongoing/past projects

2005-2008 and still going... MÍSCARO: Ecology and management of the commercially harvested Tricholoma equestre (míscaro) in maritime pine forests of Beira Litoral, Portugal. (FCT funded; POCI/AGR/57669/2004)

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2008- FUNGITEK initiative: Research, development of innovative products and specialized services in applied Mycology. Hosted by the Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) business incubator.

  • AMANITA - What makes Amanita phalloides a successful invader? Insights from studies in its native range (see details)
  • Ecology and management of the commercially harvested Tricholoma flavovirens in maritime pine forests of Beira Litoral, Portugal (MÍSCARO) (see details)
  • What if fungi went on strike? (see details)
    1. Bourne, Elizabeth C.; Mina, Diogo; Goncalves, Susana C.; Loureiro, Joao; Freitas, Helena; Muller, Ludo A. H. (2014) Large and variable genome size unrelated to serpentine adaptation but supportive of cryptic sexuality in Cenococcum geophilum. Mycorrhiza. 24, 1, 13-20. (see details) ISI paper
    2. Boas, L Vilas; Goncalves, SC.; Portugal, A; Freitas, H; Goncalves, M.T. (2014) A Ni hyperaccumulator and a congeneric non-accumulator reveal equally effective defenses against herbivory. Science Of The Total Environment. 466, 11-15. (see details) ISI paper
    3. Nabais, C; Labuto, G; Goncalves, SC; Buscardo, E; Semensatto, D; Nogueira, ARA; Freitas, H (2011) Effect of root age on the allocation of metals, amino acids and sugars in different cell fractions of the perennial grass Paspalum notatum (bahiagrass). Plant Physiology And Biochemistry. 49, 12, 1442-1447. (see details) ISI paper
    4. Goncalves, SC; Martins-Loucao, MA; Freitas, H (2009) Evidence of adaptive tolerance to nickel in isolates of Cenococcum geophilum from serpentine soils. Mycorrhiza. 19, 4, 221-230. (see details) ISI paper
    5. Goncalves, MT; Goncalves, SC; Portugal, A; Silva, S; Sousa, JP; Freitas, H (2007) Effects of nickel hyperaccumulation in Alyssum pintodasilvae on model arthropods representatives of two trophic levels. Plant And Soil. 293, 1-2, 177-188. (see details) ISI paper
    6. Goncalves, SC; Portugal, A; Goncalves, MT; Vieira, R; Martins-Loucao, MA; Freitas, H (2007) Genetic diversity and differential in vitro responses to Ni in Cenococcum geophilum isolates from serpentine soils in Portugal. Mycorrhiza. 17, 8, 677-686. (see details) ISI paper
    7. Gonçalves S.C., Sedlmayr A., Castro H., Gonçalves M.T. & Freitas H. (2005) Diversidade de tipos de micorrizas em áreas sujeitas a diferentes usos do solo. Revista De Biologia. 23, 23-34 (see details)
    8. Goncalves, SC; Martins-Loucao, MA; Freitas, H (2001) Arbuscular mycorrhizas of Festuca brigantina, an endemic serpentinophyte from Portugal. South African Journal Of Science. 97, 11-12, 571-572. (see details) ISI paper
    1. Nabais C., Gonçalves S.C. & Freitas H. (2007) Phytoremediation in Portugal – present and future. In: Methods in Biotechnology. (EDS.), Phytoremediation – Methods and Reviews. Totowa. The Humana Press Inc. 23, 978-1-59745-098-0. (see details)
    1. Gonçalves S.C. (2008) Nickel tolerance in Cenococcum geophilum from serpentine soils: an adaptive trait. - University of Coimbra. (see details)
    2. Gonçalves S.C. (2000) Mycorrhizas in Festuca brigantina: functioning and ecological meaning. - University of Coimbra. (see details)
    1. Gonçalves S.C., Mesquita N., Bittleston L., Vargas N., Dickie I.A., Geml J., Pringle A. (2015) Potential distribution and identity of introduced Amanita muscaria worldwide. (see details)
    2. Mesquita, N., Crisóstomo, J., Gonçalves S.C., Pringle A. 2015. (2015) The end of a generalist? Geographically structured host associations of Amanita phalloides in Europe. (see details)
    3. Dinis D., Mesquita N., Martins J., Canhoto J.M., Gonçalves M.T., Gonçalves S.C. (2015) Mycorrhizal fungal communities associated with Arbutus unedo and the potential for the formation of common mycelial networks with Pinus pinaster. (see details)
    4. Gonçalves S.C., Barrico L., Sousa J.P., Gonçalves M.T. (2014) Variables affecting Craterellus lutescens fructification in maritime pine forests on sand dunes of Portugal. pp.81 (see details)
    5. Bourne E.C., Mina D., Gonçalves S.C., Loureiro J., Freitas H., Muller L.H.A. (2012) Do you want that supersize?. (see details)
    6. Gonçalves S.C., Cunha, J.C., Moura, C., Freitas H. , Muller L.A.H. (2010) Insights into the adaptation of Cenococcum geophilum to serpentine soil: ecology and genomics combined (CENECOGEN). (see details)
    7. Gonçalves S.C., Martins-Loução M.A., Freitas H. (2008) Evidence of adaptive tolerance to nickel in serpentine isolates of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Cenococcum geophilum. (see details)
    8. Portugal, A., Bidartondo, M., Rodríguez-Echeverría, S., Gonçalves, S.C., Freitas, H. & Gonçalves, M.T. (2007) Contribution to the molecular delimitation of the Tricholoma flavovirens species complex. (see details)
    9. Gonçalves, S.C., Barrico, L. Portugal, A., Pilz, D., Freitas, H. & Gonçalves, M.T. (2007) Productivity of Tricholoma flavovirens and other edible mushrooms in maritime pine forests in Portugal: effect of thinning regimes. (see details)
    10. Gonçalves S.C., Bona E., Martins-Loução M.A., Freitas H. & Berta G. (2006) Nickel-induced protein pattern modifications in a serpentine tolerant isolate of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Cenococcum geophilum. (see details)
    11. Gonçalves S.C., Gonçalves M.T. & Pilz D (2005) Matsutake in Portuguese sand dunes pine forests. (see details)
    12. Gonçalves M.T., Gonçalves S.C., Portugal A, Campelo F., Martins M.J., Nabais C. & Freitas H. (2005) The MÍSCARO project: ecology and management of the commercially harvested Tricholoma flavovirens in maritime pine forests of Beira Litoral, Portugal. (see details)
    13. Portugal A., Gonçalves S.C., Vieira R. & Freitas H. (2004) Characterization of Cenococcum geophilum isolates from a serpentine area by microsatellite-primed PCR. A tool for future revegetation programmes. (see details)
    14. Gonçalves S.C., Gonçalves M.T., Freitas H. & Martins-Loução M.A. (1997) Mycorrhizae in a Portuguese serpentine community. (see details)
    1. (2014) White paper on citizen science for Europe. European Commision. (see details)
    2. Gonçalves S.C. & Gonçalves M.T. (2005) What if fungi went on strike? Educational booklet to be used as a teaching resource in schools: includes teacher's guide, class sheets and classroom activities. (see details)