Short Term Scientific Missions

Susana Marques

Susana Marques

LNEG – National Laboratory for Energy and Geology, Portugal

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) are institutional visits aimed at supporting individual mobility, fostering collaboration between individuals. STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution, organisation or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. Financial support may be provided to eligible applicants to carry out STSM that will specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of this COST Action.

STSMs must have a minimum duration of 5 calendar days that includes travel. STSM need to be carried out in their entirety within a single Grant Period and always within the

Action’s lifetime. NOTE: It is possible to change the dates of a successful STSM application if both applicant and host agree. To do so the applicant must contact the STSM coordinator (Susana Marques, and inform her about the suggested changes.

However, the STSM duration should not be reduced as this is an integral part of the STSM. STSMs that do fall short of the originally specified duration will not be reimbursed the full amount originally allocated.


STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution, organisation or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions / organisation or legal entity where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home Institutions. The Host Institution is the institution/ organisation that will host the successful applicant.

STSM Committee

  • Susana Marques (STSM Coordinator, Portugal)
  • Igor Stuparevic (Croatia)
  • Vladimir Kren (Czech Republic)
  • Martin Rebroš (Slovakia)

STSM Experiences

STSM Grantee: Jens Jakob Sigurðarson
Home Institution: BioPol ehf., Skagaströnd, Iceland
Host Institution: The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
Duration: 27/09/2021 – 27/10/2021

During this STSM a strain of Thraustochytrids, isolated off the North Icelandic coast, was analysed with Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy at The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Volha Shapaval in the research group Biospectroscopy and Datamodelling/Biosystems and Bioprocesses (BioSpec) at the Faculty of Science and Technology. The aim of the FTIR analysis was to determine the lipid content of the cells when cultured under different conditions, such as with different carbon sources, nitrogen concentrations and temperatures. From the results it was found that further work is needed to optimise the lipid production of the cells. Overall, the STSM was a great experience, and it was a pleasure visiting and working with the BioSpec group at NMBU.

STSM Grantee: Marta Neves Mota
Home Institution: Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Host Institution: Imperial College, London, UK
Duration: 14/06/2021 – 10/09/2021

Methanol is a promising feedstock alternative to sugar-based raw materials for the bioproduction of fuels, specialty chemicals, polymers, and other value-added products, due to its abundance and relatively low cost. This STSM combined the experience of Sá-Correia’s lab in functional analysis and exploitation of transcriptional regulatory networks for improvement of yeast response to stress in the context of methanol tolerance, with the experience of Ledesma-Amaro’s lab in the synthetic biology tools available to work in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. The work performed during the STSM included the overexpression, in Yarrowia lipolytica, of the orthologs of genes found, in a previous study, to confer S. cerevisiae with improved methanol tolerance (Mota et al., 2021). These targets include, among others, genes encoding cell wall, and plasma membrane proteins, as well as transcription factors. The engineered strains were analyzed in terms of methanol tolerance by evaluating the performance (assessed by following OD600nm) of Y. lipolytica during cultivation at 30°C with orbital agitation (700 rpm) and increasing methanol concentrations in 14 ml tubes. The combination of multiple targets of the methanol dissimilatory pathway using Golden Gate assembly was also performed.

Screening of non-conventional yeasts growing on salty and/or alkaline wastes

STSM Grantee: Marianna Dourou
Home Institution: University of Patras, Greece
Host Institution: University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 01/09/2021 – 31/10/2021

During my two monthly visits to the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, under the supervision of professor Nina Gunde – Cimerman, I performed a screening of 1065 non-conventional yeast strains preserved in the culture collection Ex (specialized on extremophilic fungi, including halophilic and halotolerant yeasts). A liquid medium of high salinity and alkalinity (i.e., secondary-released fish farm effluents after microalgal cultivation) characterized as oligotrophic was used as a culture medium at three different temperatures. In some cases, other agro-industrial wastewaters (i.e., pomegranate residues or olive mill wastewaters) worked as carbon or phenolic compounds source, enriched the effluent. According to the obtained results, we identified microbial strains potentially able to valorize two kinds of wastewaters. Those could be used in different branches of biotechnology, both in northern European countries and Mediterranean European countries. In addition, new horizons have been arizen as yeasts able to grow at high temperatures are by definition opportunistic pathogens and should be investigated further for the presence of additional virulence factors. To conclude, the obtained results fit my research interest, and the overall experience was terrific. Thus, I am thankful for this opportunity I gained through the COST program.

Logging residue and willow as a substrate for oleaginous yeast

STSM Grantee: Belinda Amiti
Home Institution: Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, Skopje
Host Institution: Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 12/01/2021 – 13/03/2021

In this work the ability for growth and lipid synthesis of the oleaginous yeast Rhodoturula toruloides SBY29, Rhodoturula toruloides CBS14, Rhodoturula babjevae DVBPG 8058 in logging residue and willow as a substrate was tested. The cultures were inoculated with starting OD600=1 in 10 % and 50 % of hydrolysate and incubated for 5 days at 25 °C. Their growth was followed by OD measurements, lipid accumulation by FT-NIR and sugar consumption by HPLC. The three strains showed growth in 10 % and 50 % of the logging residue. In 10 % of logging residue hydrolysate (Figure 1) SBY29 showed highest growth (OD600=23.5) and CBS14 lowest growth (OD600=16).

Figure 1. Growth of the three strains in 10 % logging residue in shake flasks cultivation

Conducting fermentation of glucose and other hexoses using yeast


STSM Grantee: Dr. Anita Juric
Home Institution: University of Mostar
Host Institution: Bar-Ilan University
Duration: 24/02/2020 – 28/02/2020

Dr. Anita Juric was Grantee for STSM enttitled: Conducting fermentation of glucose and other hexoses using yeast done at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan (Israel) under supervision of prof. Aharon Gedanken.

Prof. Aharon, in his previous research, has already used soft sonication for conducting fermentation of glucose under these conditions (accelerated fermentation by a factor of 11 as compared with a stand still reaction) but with conventional yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The results were published in Energy & Fuels 26, 2352-2356 (2012).  In this research, soft sonication was used for conducting fermentation of brewers spent grain (BSG) by use of non-conventional yeast Candida lipolytica and conventional yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As a control, samples were regularly stirred on the magnetic stirrer. S. cerevisiae, a strain of commercial baker’s yeast procured from a supermarket in Israel and with the aid of yeast Candida lipolytica cultivated at University of Zagreb, Croatia.  BSG was obtained from Hercegovacka brewery located in Bosnia and Herzegovina where BSG is generated from a process using 100% malted barley. The kinetics of the fermentation process is monitored by 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), as well as a weight decrease of the fermentation broth because of CO2 release.  A weight decrease of the fermentation broth because of COrelease was determined in both fermentations 13C NMR of sample fermented with S. cerevisiae for 5 h showed peaks of ethanol and rest of the samples needs to be done. Many thanks to prof. Gedanken and his laboratory for nice cooperation and successful work.



Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Our Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation.