Maria Celeste Dias
Phone: +351 239855210 ext 262 365
Category: Post-Doc Researcher
Department: Life Sciences
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Academic Achievements

2/2015 - 1/2021: Post-doc fellowship by FCT (SFRH/BPD/100865/2014) "Understanding olive adaptations to changing environments: physiology, metabolomics and gene expression", Centre for Functional Ecology (CFE) - University of Coimbra - and Organic Chemistry, Natural Products and Food Stuffs research Unit (QOPNA) - University of Aveiro - .

10/2008 - 01/2015: Post-doc fellowship by FCT (SFRH/BPD/41700/2007) "Large scale micropropagation and acclimatization to field conditions of elms: evaluation of genetic variability and physiology", Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM) - University of Aveiro - .

2001 - 2005: PhD (Dr.phil.nat.) in Biology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Dissertation title: "The role of C3 and C4 metabolism for drought tolerance in the genus Flaveria". Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Brüggemann.

12/2000 - 8/2001: Scientific grant funded by the FCT in the project "Recovery of photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism after the relief of water deficits" (POCTI/1999/AGR/36145). Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Maria João Correia, University of Algarve, Portugal.

1994 - 2000: Graduation in Biotechnology Engineering (5-years), University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal.

Research Interests
  • Plant ecophysiology:
    - Understand the physiological and biochemical mechanisms that enable plants to cope with abiotic stress (e.g. drought, heat and UV radiation);
  • - Main focus: Photosynthesis/carbon metabolism and oxidative stress/antioxidant capacity;
  • Metabolomics:
    - Identification of key metabolites that could be involved in plant tolerance to stresses (metabolite profile for stress biomarkers selection);
  • Ecotoxicology;
  • Plant Biotechnology: in vitro plant micropropagation

Orcid ID:
Researcher ID: K-7622-2015


Participation in projects
  • 2014-2015: "EXPLOCHAR: Exploring mechanisms of reducing drought and disease stress in eucalypt seedlings by applying biochar to soils", FCT/EXPL/AGR-FOR/0549/2013.
    •2012-2015: "SuberStress - An integrated approach to identify stress-related regulatory genes in cork oak", FCT PTDC/AGR-GPL/118505/2010.
    •2011-2014: "ClimVineSafe - Short-term climate change mitigation strategies for Mediterranean vineyards" FCT/PTDC/AGR-ALI/110877/2009.
    •2011-2104: "BioRem: integration of multiple Biomarkers of toxicity in an assay of phytoremediation in contaminated sites. FCT/PTDC/AACAMB/ 112804/2009.
    •2011-2014: "Ecophysiolyptus: Physiological and gene expression profiles for early selection of Eucalyptus globulus in a climate change context", FCT/PTDC/AGR-CFL/112996/2009.
    •2011-2014: "Valorização, melhoramento e conservação de genótipos de 3 espécies de Pinus e 2 híbridos", Project R&D (QREN) between University of Aveiro and a private company KLON, Inovative Technologies From Cloning, SA, Cantanhede.


AdaptOlive Project


AdaptOlive Project - Understanding olive adaptations to changing environments: physiology, metabolomics and gene expression


Olive (Olea europaea L.) is a major agricultural crop in the Mediterranean basin, including Portugal. This crop tree has an important economic impact in this region; for instance, 98% of the world olive and 78% of the world oil are produced in this region.
Research combining several stresses is particularly important as, in nature, simultaneous stresses are common place. In addition, the emerging climate change scenarios, such as increases of heat waves frequencies and UV radiation accompanied by changes in precipitation patterns, highlighted the need to understand how plants cope with the simultaneous action of several stresses.

This project proposes to investigate the effects of the most common stresses occurring simultaneously in nature (DS, heat and UVB radiation) and subsequent recovery, on the most representative olive cultivars in Portugal (Galega, Cobrançosa, Cordovil de Serpa and Castelo Branco) and Spain (Arbequina), by using an innovative and transversal approach that combines physiology, metabolomics and gene expression analysis. Plant physiological responses (photosynthesis/carbon metabolism/anatomical change/oxidative stress/antioxidant responses), fruit morphological characteristics, plant and fruit metabolite changes (metabolomic analysis: GCMS/HPLCMS/ LCNMR) and the profile of the expression of genes related to stress adaptation/tolerance are investigated.

FCT (SFRH/BPD/100865/2014) "Understanding olive adaptations to changing environments: physiology, metabolomics and gene expression - AdaptOlive", Centre for Functional Ecology (CFE) - University of Coimbra - and Organic Chemistry, Natural Products and Food Stuffs research Unit (QOPNA) - University of Aveiro -.


AdaptOlive Project - Physiology


O. europaea cv Cobrançosa experiment: DS + HS + high UVB radiation

  • Plants of O. europaea, cultivar "Cobrançosa", were exposed to DS, HS and UVB radiation separately and to combined DS+HS+UVB. Photosynthsis (chlorophyll a fluorescence, pigments and sugar content), oxidative stress and antioxidante capacity were evaluated.
  • Information concerning the quantum yield of photosynthetic energy conversion was obtained by PAM fluorometry and the saturation pulse method. A large range of photosynthetic parameters (Fv/Fm, Fv´/Fm´, фPSII, qP and NPQ) were calculated, giving insight into the physiological state of O. europaea plants after stresses exposition.




AdaptOlive Project - Physiology and Metabolomics

O. europaea cv Galega experiment: UVB treatment


  • Increased ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation (280-315 nm) due to ozone depletion exert a dramatic challenge for agriculture. To cope with UVB stress plants have evolved a number of protective mechanisms. Photoprotection occurs at a range of scales from processes at the molecular level to organ level mechanisms.
  • Plants of O. europaea, cultivar "Galega", were exposed to three levels of supplemental biologically effective UVB radiation: 0, 6.5 and 14.4 kJ m-2d-1.
    Photosynthesis (chlorophyll a fluorescence, pigments and sugar content), cell cycle dinamics/DNA content, oxidative stress, antioxidante capacity and metabolomic profile were evaluated.
  • Metabolomics: Due to the high diversity of structural classes of metabolites (ranging from primary to secundary metabolites), in the AdaptOlive project we combine different instrument and techniques: 1. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and 2. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS).
  • Stress affect the metabolic composition of olive. Metabolomics provides a comprehensive analysis of all metabolites present in olive leaves and fruits.


  1. Antunes, SC; Castro, BB; Dias, MC; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Correia, CM; Claro, MT; Gavina, A; Santos, C; Goncalves, F; Pinto, G (2016) Phytotoxicity of natural soils using physiological and biochemical endpoints reveals confounding factors: can a weight of evidence tackle uncertainty?. Journal Of Soils And Sediments. 16, 3, 785-800. (see details) ISI paper
  2. Vasques, AR; Pinto, G; Dias, MC; Correia, CM; Moutinho-Pereira, JM; Vallejo, VR; Santos, C; Keizer, JJ (2016) Physiological response to drought in seedlings of Pistacia lentiscus (mastic tree). New Forests. 47, 1, 119-130. (see details) ISI paper
  3. Dias MC, Moutinho-Pereira J, Correia C, Monteiro C, Araújo M, Brüggemann W, Santos C. (2016) Physiological mechanisms to cope with Cr(VI) toxicity in lettuce: can lettuce be used in Cr phytoremediation?. 23(15), 15627-15637. (see details)
  4. Nunes S, Santos C, Moutinho-Pereira J, Correia C, Oliveira H, Oliveira JMF, Pereira VT, Almeida T, Marum T, Dias MC (2016) Physiological characterization and true-to-typeness evaluation of in vitro and ex vitro seedlings of Pinus elliottii: A contribution to breeding programs. 107, 222-227. (see details)
  5. Araújo M, Santos C, Costa M, Moutinho-Pereira J, Correia C, Dias MC (2016) Plasticity of young Moringa oleifera L. plants to face water deficit and UVB radiation challenges. . 162, 278-285. (see details)
  6. Rodriguez, E; Santos, MD; Azevedo, R; Correia, C; Moutinho-Pereira, J; de Oliveira, JMPF; Dias, MC (2015) Photosynthesis light-independent reactions are sensitive biomarkers to monitor lead phytotoxicity in a Pb-tolerant Pisum sativum cultivar. Environmental Science And Pollution Research. 22, 1, 574-585. (see details) ISI paper
  7. Pereira, SI; Figueiredo, PI; Barros, AS; Dias, MC; Santos, C; Duarte, IF; Gil, AM (2014) Changes in the metabolome of lettuce leaves due to exposure to mancozeb pesticide. Food Chemistry. 154, 291-298. (see details) ISI paper
  8. Dias, MC; Figueiredo, P; Duarte, IF; Gil, AM; Santos, C (2014) Different responses of young and expanded lettuce leaves to fungicide Mancozeb: chlorophyll fluorescence, lipid peroxidation, pigments and proline content. Photosynthetica. 52, 1, 148-151. (see details) ISI paper
  9. Dias, MC; Oliveira, H; Costa, A; Santos, C (2014) Improving elms performance under drought stress: The pretreatment with abscisic acid. Environmental And Experimental Botany. 100, 64-73. (see details) ISI paper
  10. Dias, MC; Azevedo, C; Costa, M; Pinto, G; Santos, C (2014) Melia azedarach plants show tolerance properties to water shortage treatment: An ecophysiological study. Plant Physiology And Biochemistry. 75, 123-127. (see details) ISI paper
  11. Dias, MC; Correia, C; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Oliveira, H; Santos, C (2014) Study of the effects of foliar application of ABA during acclimatization. Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture. 117, 2, 213-224. (see details) ISI paper
  12. Correia, B; Pinto-Marijuan, M; Neves, L; Brossa, R; Dias, MC; Costa, A; Castro, BB; Araujo, C; Santos, C; Chaves, MM; Pinto, G (2014) Water stress and recovery in the performance of two Eucalyptus globulus clones: physiological and biochemical profiles. Physiologia Plantarum. 150, 4, 580-592. (see details) ISI paper
  13. Dias, MC; Monteiro, C; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Correia, C; Goncalves, B; Santos, C (2013) Cadmium toxicity affects photosynthesis and plant growth at different levels. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum. 35, 4, 1281-1289. (see details) ISI paper
  14. Dias, MC; Pinto, G; Guerra, C; Jesus, C; Amaral, J; Santos, C (2013) Effect of irradiance during acclimatization on content of proline and phytohormones in micropropagated Ulmus minor. Biologia Plantarum. 57, 4, 769-772. (see details) ISI paper
  15. Correia, B; Valledor, L; Meijon, M; Rodriguez, JL; Dias, MC; Santos, C; Canal, MJ; Rodriguez, R; Pinto, G (2013) Is the Interplay between Epigenetic Markers Related to the Acclimation of Cork Oak Plants to High Temperatures?. Plos One. 8, 1, (see details) ISI paper
  16. Dias, MC; Pinto, G; Correia, CM; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Silva, S; Santos, C (2013) Photosynthetic parameters of Ulmus minor plantlets affected by irradiance during acclimatization. Biologia Plantarum. 57, 1, 33-40. (see details) ISI paper
  17. Silva, S; Pinto, G; Dias, MC; Correia, CM; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Pinto-Carnide, O; Santos, C (2012) Aluminium long-term stress differently affects photosynthesis in rye genotypes. Plant Physiology And Biochemistry. 54, 105-112. (see details) ISI paper
  18. Monteiro, C; Santos, C; Pinho, S; Oliveira, H; Pedrosa, T; Dias, MC (2012) Cadmium-Induced Cyto- and Genotoxicity are Organ-Dependent in Lettuce. Chemical Research In Toxicology. 25, 7, 1423-1434. (see details) ISI paper
  19. Rodriguez, E; Santos, C; Azevedo, R; Moutinho-Pereira, J; Correia, C; Dias, MC (2012) Chromium (VI) induces toxicity at different photosynthetic levels in pea. Plant Physiology And Biochemistry. 53, 94-100. (see details) ISI paper
  20. Dias, MC; Pinto, G; Santos, C (2011) Acclimatization of micropropagated plantlets induces an antioxidative burst: a case study with Ulmus minor Mill. Photosynthetica. 49, 2, 259-266. (see details) ISI paper
  21. Pinto, G; Silva, S; Loureiro, J; Costa, A; Dias, MC; Araujo, C; Neves, L; Santos, C (2011) Acclimatization of secondary somatic embryos derived plants of Eucalyptus globulus Labill.: an ultrastructural approach. Trees-structure And Function. 25, 3, 383-392. (see details) ISI paper
  22. Monteiro, C; Oliveira, H; Pinto, T; Dias, MC; Santos, C (2011) Assessment of cadmium genotoxicity, protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation in lettuce. Toxicology Letters. 205, S66-S66. (see details) ISI paper
  23. Dias, MC; Bruggemann, W (2010) Limitations of photosynthesis in Phaseolus vulgaris under drought stress: gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and Calvin cycle enzymes. Photosynthetica. 48, 1, 96-102. (see details) ISI paper
  24. Dias, MC; Bruggemann, W (2010) Water-use efficiency in Flaveria species under drought-stress conditions. Photosynthetica. 48, 3, 469-473. (see details) ISI paper
  25. Dias, MC; Bruggemann, W (2007) Differential inhibition of photosynthesis under drought stress in Flaveria species with different degrees of development of the C-4 syndrome. Photosynthetica. 45, 1, 75-84. (see details) ISI paper
  26. Correia, MJ; Fonseca, F; Azedo-Silva, J; Dias, C; David, MM; Barrote, I; Osorio, ML; Osorio, J (2005) Effects of water deficit on the activity of nitrate reductase and content of sugars, nitrate and free amino acids in the leaves and roots of sunflower and white lupin plants growing under two nutrient supply regimes. Physiologia Plantarum. 124, 1, 61-70. (see details) ISI paper
  27. Dias, MC; Almeida, R; Romano, A (2002) Rapid clonal multiplication of Lavandula viridis L'Her through in vitro axillary shoot proliferation. Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture. 68, 1, 99-102. (see details) ISI paper
  28. Dias M. C. Phytotoxicity: An Overview of the Physiological Responses of Plants Exposed to Fungicides. . Journal Of Botany. (see details)
  1. Santos C., Monteiro M. , Dias M. C. Nova Science Publishers Inc.. (EDS.), Mechanisms of Cadmium Toxicity in Crops: A Review. 9781617281693. (see details)
  2. Dias M. C. Shaker Verlag. (EDS.), The role of C3 and C4 metabolism for drought tolerance in the genus Flaveria. 3-8322-4646-0. (see details)
  1. Fradinho AF, Coata M, Pinto D, Silva A, Santos C, Dias MC Effect of UVB radiation on metabolomic profile of Moringa oleifera Lam. leaves . (see details)
  2. Dias MC, Araujo M, Correia C, Moutinho-Pereira J, Silva AMA, Santos C. How UVB radiation can affect light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis on Olea europaea? . (see details)
  3. Machado F., AraujoM.,Costa M., Pinto D., Silva A., Santos C., Dias M.C. Effects of drought stress and UVB radiation on metabolic profile of Drumstick. (see details)
  4. Araujo M., Costa M., Santos C., Dias M.C. Photosynthetic and oxidative disorders in Moringa oleifera leaves exposed to climate change: UVB and drought stress. (see details)
  5. Maria Costa, Dias Maria Celeste, Santos Conceição A resposta de Adenanthera pavonina às alterações climáticas: contributo para a valorização desta espécie em zonas degradadas da República Democrática de Timor-Leste. (see details)
  6. Leal A, Vieira N, Reis F, Hardoim PR, Barros PM, Coelho AC, Tavares RM, Lino-Neto T, Lourenço T, Ramalho JC, Dias MC, Saibo N, Oliveira M Searching for cork oak genes involved in the cross-talk between different stresses - the O3FAD – omega 3 fatty acid desnaturase. (see details)
  7. Marum L., Almeida T., Correia S., Farinha N., Figueiredo J., Mano N., Nunes S., Sousa D., Dias C., Oliveira M., Santos C., Pereira, V. ine tree biotechnology for high value forestry. (see details)