Harnessing innate immune training for enhanced disease resistance in marine bivalves

Marine bivalves are one of the most popular and iconic seafoods. They are found all over the world and marine bivalve aquaculture is an expanding industry globally. However, bivalve farming is constantly at risk because of its high dependency on environmental conditions and bivalves are particularly susceptible to environmental contaminants as they filter large volumes of seawater to feed and at the same time may concentrate pathogens and biotoxins (released by red algae blooms) that can cause disease and food-borne poisoning in humans.

The project

Aims to extend understanding of bivalve immunity by a) identifying and comparing innate immunity and innate immune memory in the mantle and haemocytes, b) establish how immune training modifies the mantle and haemocyte response to infection, c) characterize the role of the mantle microbiome in immunity and how it changes with immune training.

Our bivalve model

We are studying the Mediterranean mussel (Mytillus galloprovinciallis), the second most economically valuable farmed bivalve species globally. 

The team

João Cardoso 


Deborah Power 


Jennifer Mc Shane 

(Research technician)

Maoxiao Peng


Zhi Li


Babak Najafpour


Our students

Tatiana Alberto

(Biochemestry Degree)

Debora Ramos

(Biotechnology Degree)

Pedro Ramos

(Marine Biology Degree)

Our Activities

Injecting musses

injecting mussel

After injection

Drilling the shell

Experimental setting

Sampling mussel tissues

Heamocytes assays

Enzymatic assays

Outreach activities in Local schools

Ciência Viva students 2024

Manuel and Gabriel (high school students)  joined our team this summer within the Ciencia Viva 2024

Phagocytosis assay of mussel haemocytes

Image of the bacteria (green) and hemocytes (nucleus in blue). Several aggregates with fragments of bacteria inside are visible.




Project reference: 2022.08563.PTDC. 

Funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) DOI:10.54499/2022.08563.PTDC