About Lege

Collecting samples since 1991


LEGE is the acronym for the Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology Culture Collection at CIIMAR, Portugal. It comprises more than 380 cyanobacterial strains, several of them unique among the phylogenetic diversity of the group. LEGE is a comprehensive Biological Resource Centre of living culture material of cyanobacteria. Strains currently at LEGE were primarily isolated by members from the Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology lab group, at CIIMAR. They have been obtained since 1991, from samples collected in different environments and locations mainly in Portugal (including Islands).

LEGE is member of World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC, WDCM #1089), and it is also part of EMBRC.PT, the Portuguese node of the research infrastructure European Marine Biological Resource Centre.

LEGE seeks to provide products (i.e. strain cultures), services and expertise to national, regional and international stakeholders, for different aims (e.g. R&D in academia and industry; science education & dissemination).

Meet the team


Vitor Vasconcelos

And all started with the first Microcystis aeruginosa strains isolated since 1991 from several water bodies in Portugal during my PhD thesis in Toxicology of cyanobacteria at the Faculty of Sciences of Porto University, with some work done also at the University of Helsinki (Finland) and at the Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio (USA). My research interests were initially the toxins produced by cyanobacteria and their impact in environmental and human health and resulted in the first Monitoring Program of Toxic Cyanobacteria in Portugal together with the General Directorate of Health. But cyanobacteria produce much more than just toxins and lately my research interests also deal with unraveling bioactive compounds produced by cyanobacteria using genomic, proteomic and bioassay guided approaches. The Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology Culture Collection has expanded to more genera, species and environments (marine, brackish and freshwater, soil), and I am interested to find new bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, nutraceutical and antifouling properties. Recent projects like MARBIOTECH (ON2), NOMORFILM or BLUEandGREEN (H2020) are recent examples of such applications.


Vitor Ramos

My first degree was in Biology at University of Coimbra, where I was also a team member of the pan-european scientific project COBRA (The Conservation of a Vital European and Biotechnological Resource: MicroAlgae and Cyanobacteria) at the Coimbra Collection of Algae (ACOI). It was there that I became interested in cyanobacteria and microalgal biotechnology. Since I’ve arrived to CIIMAR, at Vitor Vasconcelos lab (BBE group), I have been isolating, identifying, maintaining and culturing many cyanobacterial isolates and some other microalgae. I was one of the persons engaged in the process of organize and re-identify all the LEGE strains and in creating the Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology Culture Collection. I am particularly interested in the diversity, phylogeny and modern polyphasic taxonomy of cyanobacteria (and microalgae). Other research interests include bioinformatics, toxins and other bioactive compounds produced by these microorganisms, algal biotechnology, Biological Resource Centres (BRCs) and cryopreservation.


João Morais

Originally from Viana do Castelo, north of Portugal, I graduated from University of Porto with a degree in Biology in 2006. It was during this year that I joined the Laboratory of Ecotoxicology Genomics and Evolution (LEGE), nowadays designated as Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology (BBE) to work with cyanobacteria, theirs toxins and possible implications in the environment and human health. In 2009 I completed my MSc in Water Management by research the assessment of cyanobacterial toxinogenic genotypes and estimation of toxin content in urban lakes. Nowadays I work as a research fellow in a European project named NOMORFILM – Novel Marine Biomolecules against Biofilm – Application to Medical Devices. Within this project my main tasks are the cultivation of cyanobacteria from our Culture Collection and the production of cyanobacterial extracts that will be tested for different potential biotechnological applications (Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antibiofilm, etc).My job within the culture collection is to support all tasks involved in the maintenance of the strains. Apart from that I participate in the isolation of new strains, molecular identification, development of cryopreservation methods and in maintenance in all the data present in the LEGE culture collection Website.


Raquel Castelo-Branco

Originally from Vila Real, northern Portugal, I completed my degree in Genetics and Biotechnology and Msc degree in Biotechnology of Health Science by University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro. During my academic course, I became interested in microbiology and toxicology. In 2012 I joined Blue Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology (BBE) group to study the diversity of cyanobacterial community and to study toxic and bioactive potential of cyanobacteria by molecular approaches. Currently, I work as a postgraduated researcher in an European project designed NOMORFILM – Novel Marine Biomolecules against Biofilm – Application to Medical Devices. In this project my main tasks are the molecular identification of cyanobacteria strains from LEGE Culture Collection and the extraction of bioactive compounds from selected cyanobacterial strains that will be tested for antibacterial and antibiofilm potential. My primary role in LEGE CC is the molecular identification of all strains from culture collection but I’m also involved in technical support to the maintenance of the strains and development of cryopreservation methods.


Micaela Vale

I graduated in the year 2000 from the Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, with a degree in Biology. I joined the group in 2002 when I started doing phytoplankton identification and enumeration. In 2005, I completed a MSc in Hydrobiology where I studied freshwater planktonic communities. Since then I’ve continued monitoring environmental samples for the presence of potentially toxic phytoplankton, determination of biovolumes and quantification of toxicity.At LEGE CC I manage the logistics and support the maintenance and culture of strains whenever possible. I also cooperate with ongoing research projects using LEGE CC strains.