Research Lines


Algae Biology

Anatomy of Vascular Plants

Botany in Education

Plant Development Biology

Plant Economic Resources

Systems Biology

Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of Vascular Plants



Anatomy of Vascular Plants

The plant anatomy laboratory opened up in 1940, six years after the Botany Department’s founding. It started studying plants from the Brazilian Cerrado, aiming to understand its adaptations to survive in this environment. Under Prof. Felix Rawitscher’s management, the Botany Department was a pioneer in the Plant Anatomy field in Brazil, keeping up a leadership place in national research.

Maintaining the same line of work, since 1964 the laboratory developed anatomic, taxonomic and ecologic researches on another important biome called Rupestre Fields, located at Brazil’s Cadeia do Espinhaço.

Thanks to 35 years of researching that biome, along with other researchers from the department, Nanuza Luiza de Menezes oversaw the formulation of “Plantas ameaçadas dos campos rupestres de Minas Gerais” (Endangered Rupestres fields plants), collaborating with th e “Lista vermelha das espécies da flora de Minas Gerais” (Minas Gerais endangered plants list”.

In the last years the laboratory have been developing researches in multiple ecosystems, the previous mentioned as well as Mata Atlântica and Pantanal.

The anatomy studies focus on vegetative and reproductive organs on various families through structural, ecologic, taxonomic and phylogenetic approaches under five research lines: i) ecologic anatomy: adaptation structure, seasonal growth, ii) anatomy applied to taxonomy and phylogeny, iii) orthogenesis of vegetative and reproductive organs, iv) subterranean systems: anatomy, development and plant reproduction strategies, v) studies in morpho-histologic and molecular morphogenesis “in vivo” and “in vitro” with different laboratories.

With these research lines, comprising various types of plants, from herbaceous to arboreal, the main focus was always to seek knowledge in Brazil’s rich flora and to make a better use of it. There are also works being developed, like subterranean systems of potentially edible species; studies on C4 photosynthesis, usual feature of the tropical regions; studies seeking knowledge about arboreal flora addressing the anatomy of the wood, resulting in identification and understanding of its growth that helps to understand the forest’s dynamics.


Systems Biology

Systems biology has five research topics: i) Cell biology and biotechnology: physiological, biochemical and molecular aspects; ii) Carbohydrates physiology and biochemistry; iii) Plant molecular biology; iv) Genomics; and v) Lignin biology. Researches are made in several subjects of plant physiology using genomic, molecular genetics and biochemistry tools, always aiming for biotechnological applications. Five laboratories act on this research line: Plant Cell Biology Laboratory (BIOCEL); Genomics and Transposable Elements (GATE); Ecological Physiology Laboratory (LAFIECO); Lignin Lab; and Plant Molecular Genetic Laboratory (GMP).




Plant Development Biology

Research activities in Plant Physiology begun about 60 years ago, along with the creation of the Universidade de São Paulo Botany Department. In the 70’s, totally new plant cell tissues studies were consolidate and started a flow of deeper approaches in organogenesis and its various expressions. For that, the usage of modern tools became mandatory, for example: endogenous nitric oxide hormonal dosage, proteomic molecular biology, and histologic and biochemical .

In the development area, the main focus has been organogenesis, addressed under two distinctive plant models: bromeliads and orchids (epiphytes or land based) and the arboreal. For bromeliads and orchids the studies have been pointed to the comprehension of hormonal signs with amino acids, nitric oxide, and also redox state, related to meristematic activity control and cellular differentiation-redifferentiation. For the arboreal the studies are pointed to somatic and zygotic embryogenesis under the simultaneous perspective of optimization and multiplication for conservation, and the comprehension of induction related events, embryo maturation and development comparatively to zygotic embryogenesis.

Referring to metabolic studies, the focus has been to the nature and enzymatic ways for cytosolic carbohydrates and cellular wall and primary nitrogenous compounds. For the aforementioned, not only focusing in significance for the development, we have been trying to establish evaluation parameters of environmental stress factors, like low hydration, temperature elevation and CO2 and its consequences for natural and cultivated species.


Algae Biology

The “Édison José de Paula” Marine Algae laboratory develops projects in various fields through integrated approaches of lato sensu biology with species of business potential. The researches comprise classic taxonomy aided by experimental methods, electron scanning microscopy and molecular biology; and even areas from physiology , genetics, biotechnology and prospection, molecular phylogeny, ecology and mariculture, aiming knowledge, protection and resource extraction of marine macroalgae.

Here are some of the papers developed in the laboratory published in specialized journals:

- floristic and biogeographic surveys;

- taxonomic, morphoanatomical and phylogenetic characterization of species and lineages with greatest business potential;

- evaluation of factors that regulate the distribution and abundancy of species and quantification of natural banks of species with greatest business potential.

- ecology of populations and natural communities and its experimental management;

- laboratory farming, addressing physiological and genetic aspects and life history;

- lineage selection for maiculture and experimental objectives;

- experimental farming in tanks or on the sea, aiming the establishment of a seaweed mariculture program in Brazil;

- chemical screening of phycocolloid producing species of economic importance (agar, carrageenans and alginates).


Plant Economic Resources

The Phytochemistry Laboratory develops approaches that study the business usage of native plants. The studies address primarily chemical analysis of plants, emphasizing angiosperms. The lab performs extractions of substances found in plants, chromatography analysis 9including CLAE and gas chromatography coupled with spectrography of masses), isolation, identification and quantification of important elements. Biological activity analyses are also performed, some in our lab or in contributor’s laboratories.

The association of endophytic microorganisms with plant species has also been investigated in studies related to microorganisms’ biodiversity and chemodiversity of metabolites, identification of these elements and evaluation of bioactivities in extracts and isolated components.


Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of Vascular Plants

This subarea has two main and complementary research lines. The first refers to the floristic studies realized in various Brazilian biomes, with special attention to Campos Rupestres, Cerrado, Mata Atlântica and Caatinga. There we perform surveying of angiosperm species, providing descriptions, keys and ilustrations, as well as phenologic and phytogeographic data, supplying subsidies for systematic and evolutionary projects as much as for studies and policies aiming preservation and management of Brazil’s neotropical flora. The Annonaceae, Bignoniaceae, Eriocaulaceae, Rutaceae, Simaroubaceae and Velloziaceae are among the species families whose knowledge about is encouraged by specialists within the program.

Another research line focuses on studying the systematics and evolution of different taxa through phylogenetic studies and taxonomic reviews. In these studies, data from different origins, mostly morphologic, molecular, ecologic and biogeographic information, seeking to rebuild the evolutionary history of the said taxa. The phylogenies are used as a basis for studies about evolution, diversification and biogeographic history of the neotropic region. In both sides, one of the things that differentiates this research line is the work done with plants from the Campos Rupestres, including its adaptations. Biology and evolution.


The Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of Vascular Plants subfield presents collaborations with research groups, mostly from the North and Northeast regions;

In the north, we work in collaboration with the Nation Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) and Emílio Geldi Museum surveying the Amazon Forest natural riches in projects like the Ducke Reservation Flora, Igapó Flora (Negro river) and Uatumã Flora. In the northeast we highlight works in collaboration with Feira de Santana State University (UEFS) and Bahia Federal University (UFBA). These projects are developed in the caatinga region and the Cadeia do Espinhaço (Minas Gerais and Bahia), being part of the graduate programs of those universities. Our professors also teach Graduation courses at INPA, National Museum (Rio de Janeiro), UFPE (Pernambuco), UEFS and UFBA (Bahia).


Botany in Education

The group started in 2008 on the initiative of its coordinator Profa. Suzana Ursi and currently develops two main lines of research:

1. Perception and Environmental Education in and on marine and coastal ecosystems

We develop and evaluate the application of didactic teaching-learning strategies, as well as investigate the formation of teachers related to such topics. One of the main focuses of our investigations is the Underwater Track Extension Project (IBUSP) and its influences on the perceptions and conceptions of students and teachers. Among the theoretical-methodological references that guide the present work, we highlight the Ecological Values ​​Model of Borgner and Wiseman.

2. Teacher training

Our research is anchored by the ideas of Schuman and collaborators (Pedagogical Knowledge of Content - PCK). The distance education training (EAD) has been an important focus of our work, which addresses course evaluation, development and evaluation of teaching tools, mentoring activity, motivation and student learning. The manifestations of the PCK in participants of PIBID (Institutional Scholarship Initiative Program) has also been another focus of our research.

In parallel, the group is dedicated to the elaboration and evaluation of resources, strategies and didactic sequences on Plant Biology and related subjects, always seeking to carry out such evaluations in order to contribute to the construction of knowledge in the area of ​​Biology Teaching.