Dr Tina Keller-Costa

Past members

Visitor - Research Scientist & Invited Assistant Professor

Research Interests

My research focuses on the diversity, ecological function, and biotechnological potential of marine microbiomes and in strategies to translate them into tangible products; to leverage them for a sustainable blue bioeconomy and to foster ocean health in the advance of climate change. I am further interested in the molecular mechanisms of host-microbial interactions – particularly in octocorals - and seek to understand the identity and evolution of the secondary metabolites involved.

Selected Publications

  • Marine sponge and octocoral-associated bacteria show versatile secondary metabolite biosynthesis capacities and antimicrobial activities against human pathogens. Almeida, J.F., Marques, M., Oliveira, V., Egas, C., Mil-Homens, D., Viana, R., Cleary, D., Huang, Y.M., Fialho, A.M., Teixeira, M.C., Gomes, N.C.M., Costa, R. and Keller-Costa, T.$ Marine Drugs 21(1): 34. https://doi.org/10.3390/md21010034 (2023).  Selected as “Editor’s Choice”.
  • Metagenomics-resolved genomics provides novel insights into chitin turnover, metabolic specialization, and niche partitioning in the octocoral microbiome. Keller-Costa, T.$, Kozma, L., Silva, S.G., Toscan, R., Gonçalves, J.G., Lago-Leston, A., Kyprides, N., Nunes da Rocha, U. and Costa, R. Microbiome 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-022-01343-7 (2022).
  • Harnessing the microbiome to prevent global biodiversity loss. Peixoto, R., Voolstra, C.V., Sweet, M., Duarte, C.M., Carvalho, S., Villela, H., Lunshof, J.E., Walter, J., Woodhams, D.C., Walke, J.B., Gram, L., Roik, A., Hentschel, U., Thurber, R.V., Daisley, B., Ushijima, B., Daffonchio, D., Costa, R., Keller-Costa, T., Bowman, J., Rosado, A.S., Reid, G., Mason, C., Thomas, T. and Berg, G. Nature Microbiology 7: 1726–1735. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-022-01173-1 (2022). 
  • Insights into the antimicrobial activities and metabolomes of Aquimarina (Flavobacteriaceae, Bacteroidetes) Species from the Rare Marine Biosphere. Silva, S.G., Paula, P., da Silva, J.P., Mil-Homens, D., Teixeira, M.C., Fialho, A.M., Costa, R. and Keller-Costa, T$. Marine Drugs 20(423). https://doi.org/10.3390/md20070423 (2022).
  • Structural shifts in sea ice prokaryotic communities across a salinity gradient in the subarctic. Coelho, L.F., Couceiro, J.F., Keller-Costa, T., Valente, S., Ramalho, T., Carneiro, J., Comte, J., Vincent, W., Martins, Z., Canário, J., Costa, R. Science of the Total Environment 827:154286. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154286(2022).
  • Metagenomic insights into the taxonomy, function and dysbiosis of prokaryotic communities in octocorals. Keller-Costa, T.$, Lago-Lestón, A., Saraiva, J.P., Toscan, R., Silva, S.G., Gonçalves, J., Cox, C.J., Kyrpides, N., Nunes da Rocha, U., and Costa, R. Microbiome 9(72). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40168-021-01031-y (2021).
  • Functional metagenomics reveals differential chitin degradation and utilization features across free-living and host-associated marine microbiomes. Raimundo, I, Silva; R., Meunier, L., Valente, S.M., Lago-Lestón, A., Keller-Costa, T$. and Costa, R. Microbiome 9(43). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00970-2 (2021).
  • Bacteriome structure, function, and probiotics in fish larviculture: the good, the bad, and the gaps. Borges, N., Keller-Costa. T., Sanches-Fernandes, G.M.M., Louvado, A., Gomes, N.C.M., and Costa, R. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences 9(1): 423-452. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-animal-062920-113114 (2021).
  • The gorgonian coral Eunicella labiata hosts a distinct prokaryotic consortium amenable to cultivation. Keller-Costa, T.$, Eriksson, D., Gonçalves, J.M.S., Gomes, N.C.M., Lago-Lestón, A. and Costa, R. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 93(12). https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fix143 (2017).
  • Identity of a tilapia pheromone released by dominant males that primes females for reproduction. Keller-Costa, T., Hubbard, P.C., Paetz, C., Nakamura, Y., da Silva, J.P., Rato, A., Barata, E.N., Schneider, B. and Canário, A.V.M. Current Biology. 24(18): 2130-2135 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.049 (2014).


  • European PhD (Doctorate) in Biology

    Algarve Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR, Portugal) and University of Évora, Portugal, with partial completion at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI-CE Jena, Germany), 2014

  • MSc in Biology (Diplom Biologie)

    Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (Germany) and Rijksiuniversiteit of Groningen (The Netherlands), 2009

  • ERASMUS Exchange Program in Marine Biology and Microbial Ecology, 2006/2007 Rijksuniversiteit of Groningen (The Netherlands)

  • BSc in Biology (Vordiplom Biologie) Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (Germany), 2005

Professional Profile

  • Invited Assistant Professor, since 2020

    Department of Bioengineering (DBE) at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), University of Lisbon, Portugal

  • Research Scientist (FCT-funded CEECIND contract) - since 2019

    Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (iBB); Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Lisbon, Portugal,

  • Post-doctoral Fellow, 2017-2019

    Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (iBB); Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Lisbon, Portugal

  • Guest (Visiting) Scientist, 2015

    Institut für Anorganische und Analytische Chemie (IAA), Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany

  • Post-doctoral Fellow, 2014-2016
  • Algarve Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), Faro, Portugal 

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Member of the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • Member of the Beneficial Microorganisms of Marine Organisms (BMMO) network
  • Member of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Microbiologia (SPM), part of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS)
  • Review Editor for the Symbiosis Section of Frontiers in Microbiology and Frontiers in Marine Sciences 


  • Excellent Teacher Award from Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal

    Discipline: Functional & Comparative Genomics, 2021/2022

  • Excellent Teacher Award from Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal

    Disciplines: Microbiology; Functional & Comparative Genomics, 2020/2021

  • ‘Summa Cum Laude’ Mentioning for my PhD thesis, University of Évora, Portugal, 2014
  • Best Young Scientist Oral Presentation from the Portuguese Society for Ethology (SPE)

    9th National Congress for Ethology (SPE 2012), Lisbon, Portugal, 2012

  • ‘Examenspreis’ for my MSc thesis from the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, Germany, 2010 Honoured as the best graduating student of the year from the Faculty of Biology and Pharmacy
  • Winner of numerous Travel Awards and Research Grants from diverse societies and agencies (ISME; ISCE, SEB, COB, FEMS, DAAD, Sokrates/Erasmus, FCT)

Research Interests Keywords

Chemical ecology Blue Biotechnology Host-microbe interactions Octocoral microbiomes Metabolomics Metagenomics Genomics Microbial Ecology Aquatic biology