Projects

1

Project: 窶廛evelopment of sustainable processes for the production of textile fibers from forest resources窶
Acronym: 窶廡ibraCel窶
2013/15: PTDC/AGR-TEC/4049/2012
PI: Bruno Medronho

Summary: Sourcing sustainable raw materials to global players in the textile market has become increasingly difficult. Organic cotton, while minimizing some of these problems, is not available in the desired quantities or at acceptable cost and, at the same time, the conventional cotton production is being increasingly questioned. On the other hand, synthetic fibers are not sustainable in the long run since they are based on fossil feed stock. Production of cellulosic fibers from forest resources may become the only sustainable future alternative to cotton when new processes for dissolution and fiber spinning of cellulose are developed. This project foresees a sustainable use of natural resources and relates to further processing of forest and agricultural commodities focusing on critical analysis of the molecular interactions involved.

2

Project: 窶廾n the Track of Ecological Textile Fibers: From Cellulose-Based Agroflorestal Resources to New Added Value Materials.窶
Acronym: 窶廡ibraCel2窶
2016/19: PTDC/AGR-TEC/4814/2014
PI: Bruno Medronho

Summary: A rather inconvenient issue transversal to many important applications of cellulose involves its dissolution which is typically challenging and a limiting step. Due to the complexity of the biopolymeric network and to the partial crystalline structure and extended noncovalent interactions among molecules, chemical processing of cellulose is rather difficult. In addition, the way the scientific and industrial community have so far been basing their knowledge and progress on cellulose dissolution, is prolific in important fundamental flaws. Our recent work has revealed that cellulose has clear amphiphilic properties and a careful examination of the interactions involved suggests that hydrophobic interactions are important for explaining the solubility pattern of cellulose. This alternative approach constituted the ground basis behind the project 窶廡ibraCel窶 (PTDC/AGRTEC/4049/2012) being the current proposal a continuation of the FibraCel project. Here, we intend to go beyond the current state of the art and be able to develop new solvents and understand their mechanism of action both in dissolution and regeneration of new materials. This is expected to have direct application not only in the textile industry but also in other areas where cellulose dissolution is required, such as the production of polymers and chemicals derived from it.

3

Project: 窶Is Plantago almogravensis an aluminum hyperaccumulator plant? Elucidation of the tolerance mechanism using micropropagated plants
2010/13: PTDC/AGR-AAM/102664/2008
PI: Anabela Romano

Summary: Based on the results obtained in this project we concluded that P. almogravensis accumulates considerable amounts of Al and is moderately tolerant to Al.  Al detoxification implies both secretion of organic acids from roots and Al intracellular chelation by organic acids. Al is bound internally by the organic acid citrate forming the tri-Al tricitrate (Al3cit3) complex and two other yet unidentified Al-citrate complexes. Using a metabolomic approach we determined that citrate is diverted from biosynthetic pathways to complex Al. The data obtained by ISSRs reveals that the roots were more affected than the leaves. We amplified sequences of MATE gene that is related to aluminum tolerance, being involved in Al-activated citrate secretion. This work is a modest contribution to a better understanding of wild plants adaptation to acidic Al-rich soils and provides fundamental information that could be used to improve the Al-tolerance in other species.