Candidates can apply to the following SANFEED programme topics until
30 September 2016:

  • Topic I: Microbiome in poultry: influence of nutritional factors (WP3)

    Supervisory team: Agostinho Antunes (CIIMAR/ FCUP); José Luís Mourão (UTAD); António Mira da Fonseca (REQUIMTE/ICBAS-UP)

    Industrial Representative: José Vieira (SORGAL)

    Description of the research programme:
    There is growing recognition of the role of diet in modulating the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota, which can have major impact in health and meat quality in birds and cows. Molecular technologies can be used to decipher the complexity and diversity of the gut microbial communities within and between individuals. Diet, particularly macronutrients, has a major role in shaping the composition and activity of these complex populations. The impacts of dietary fats and protein on the gut microbiota are less well defined. Both short- and long-term dietary change can influence the microbial profiles, and infant nutrition may have life-long consequences through microbial modulation of the immune system. Moreover, there is potential benefits of prebiotics and probiotics to modify microbial populations. The general objectives are: 1) to characterize the microbiome in poultry based on the microbial identification with genomic pyrosequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene; 2) to improve poultry microbiome through nutritional modulation and/or the use of specific supplements; and 3) to develop the genomic tools to allow evaluation of reliable diagnostic approaches for food authenticity and traceability.

  • TOPIC II: Improving immune condition and growth performance in marine fish using nutraceuticals and prebiotics (WP3)

    Supervisory team: Benjamin Costas (CIIMAR); Irina Amorim (ICBAS-UP); Sofia Costa Lima (REQUIMTE)

    Industrial Representative: Elisabete Matos (SORGAL SA); Luís Conceição (SPAROS)

    Description of the research programme:
    Under intensive culture conditions, fish are subjected to increased stress owing to environmental (water quality and hypoxia) and health conditions (parasites and infectious diseases). All these factors have negative impacts on fish well-being and overall performance, with consequent economic losses. The objective of this thesis is to explore the potential of new nutritional supplements (e.g. phytogenics, prebiotics and specific nutrients) on improving the nutritional condition, immune mechanisms and disease resistance in marine fish. The project will focus on gilthead seabream or European seabass as target species. Growth trials with an experimental design incorporating a bacterial challenge will be performed. Besides survival and growth performance of fish, transcriptomics and immunohistochemistry approaches will be used to assess the effects. This project should allow the development of fortified commercial diets with specific knowledge-based formulations, hence supporting better farming results in terms of growth and disease susceptibility of fish. Moreover, data generated in the various trials will assist on the identification of biomarkers for immune condition in fish.

  • TOPIC III: Improving growth performance of fish larvae through early nutrition (WP1)

    Supervisory team: Sofia Engrola (CCMAR); Luís E. C. Conceição (SPAROS); Luísa M. P. Valente (CIIMAR/ICBAS-UP)

    Industrial Representative: Luís E. C. Conceição (SPAROS)

    Description of the research programme:
    The main objective of this proposal is to increase the knowledge regarding the effects of nutritional strategies at very early stage of development in order to improve growth performance in fish larvae. As nutrition is a key regulator of protein accretion, understanding the major regulators of protein homeostasis is paramount for improved protein retention. The rates of protein synthesis and degradation in muscle cells is tightly regulated as even a small increase in synthesis or small reduction in degradation, if sustained, may result in a marked accretion of muscle. This project will integrate the novel concept of metabolic programming with performance, physiological, transcriptomics, and muscle cellularity indicators, in order to verify how larva protein accretion machinery may be enhanced. This project will create the scientific basis for an improved diet formulation for Senegalese sole and other fish larvae.

  • TOPIC IV: Dietary seaweed supplementation in Sparus aurata and Dicentrarchus labrax diets: Effects on feed utilization, aerobic scope and modulatory response against biotic and abiotic stressors in cultured fish (WP1)

    Supervisory team: Leonardo Magnoni (CIIMAR); Rui Pereira (ALGAplus); Anake Kijjoa (CIIMAR/ICBAS-UP)

    Industrial Representative: Helena Abreu (ALGAplus)

    Description of the research programme:
    Seaweed (SW) may be a good alternative to traditional protein sources used in fish feed. In addition, SW are a good source of bioactive compounds with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, the use of SW as dietary additive may be an adjuvant therapeutic strategy to sustain fish welfare under sub-optimal aquaculture conditions. However, chemical composition of SW may depend on environmental factors. The effects of culture conditions on nutritional properties of SW, including the presence/quantity of bioactivite compounds remain to be elucidated. Furthermore, the modulation of antioxidant and immune responses in cultured fish, such as sea bream (Sparus aurata) and sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) by dietary SW supplementation still requires investigation, particularly during biotic or abiotic challenges. The main objectives are: 1) determine the effect of different culture conditions of Porphyra dioica and Ulva sp. in the nutritional composition of the SW and its bioactivity capacity; 2) study the potential use of Porphyra dioica and Ulva sp. as a dietary source for protein in Sparus aurata and Dicentrarchus labrax diets, studying changes in growth performance and digestibility; 3) determine possible effects of dietary supplementation of Porphyra dioica and Ulva sp. (raw vs. extracts) on Sparus aurata and Dicentrarchus labrax subjected to an abiotic stress, by analyzing growth performance, DNA’s cellular integrity, aerobic scope and enzymatic activities/ gene expression related with mechanisms of cellular protection; and 4) study the effect of dietary supplementation with Porphyra dioica and Ulva sp. extracts on Sparus aurata and Dicentrarchus labrax when subjected to a bacterial challenge, by analyzing the immune response and enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant activities.

  • TOPIC V: Characterization of the sensory profile of sea urchin aiming at the selection of premium gonads) (WP4)

    Supervisory team: Luísa M. P. Valente (CIIMAR/ICBAS-UP); Amparo Gonçalves (CIIMAR/IPMA); Luís M. Cunha (GreenUP, CITAB-UP/FCUP)

    Industrial Representative: Rui Costa Lima (SENSETEST)

    Description of the research programme:
    Sea urchin gonads market price and consumer acceptability depends on size, colour, odour and flavour, which are a reflection of animals’ diet. Descriptive sensory analysis of sea urchin gonads can help select the best harvest period to obtain the desired gonad quality, and evaluate its quality changes over time. Moreover, the dietary modulation can improve sea urchin production in captivity, allowing regular production of high quality gonads both for market consumption and farming purposes. This project will address these topics by focusing on the: 1) selection and training of sensory panel for sea urchin gonads; this will include: panellists recruitment, selection and training for descriptive testing (including testing of sea urchin gonads) and evaluation of panellists performance; 2) quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA) of sea urchin gonads by testing gonads in different conditions for the characterization of the sensory profile of this product aiming the selection of premium gonads; the Quality Index Method (QIM) will be optimized for sea urchin gonads (during chilled and cold storage conditions) to discriminate the quality grade and define its shelf life; and 3) modulation of sea urchin gonad quality by dietary formulation; dedicated classical nutritional trials will be carried out under laboratory conditions to evaluate best protein/energy ratios in diets for juveniles and the dietary inclusion of supplements to improve gonads quality and marketability. Classic analytical tools applied in nutrient requirement studies combined with transcriptomics of sea urchin gonads will allow the proper identification of major genomic components of the sea urchin unique flavour of gonads.

Admission criteria

Students to be recruited will be selected by the Directive board of SANFEED programme on the basis of high academic achievements, their prior knowledge/skills in the proposed research field and an assessment of their potential and commitment to complete high quality research.

The candidates to SANFEED must hold the following academic/professional qualifications:

  1. Master's degree or legal equivalent in Animal Science, Biology, Veterinary, or related field;
  2. Graduation degree (first cycle) with an especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board as suitable to carry out this cycle of studies;
  3. Holder of especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board suitable to carry out this cycle of studies.
  4. All candidates will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in English, either by proving that they are English native speakers, or by submitting the results of a recognized language proficiency test:
    1. a recent TOEFL Certificate: minimum score: 57 points (Paper) or 87 points (Internet);
    2. a recent IELTS Certificate: minimum score: 6.5;
    3. a recent First Certificate in English of the University of Cambridge;
    4. a recent Certificate of a University Language Centre testifying that the student masters the necessary knowledge of English to function academically - C1 level; or
    5. a recent proof that the candidate followed at least 2 years of higher education taught in English.
  5. Foreign students who fulfill the requirements to be eligible to the scholarship should have at least basic knowledge of Portuguese, being recommended to attend a Portuguese language course at UP. This basic knowledge of Portuguese language should be demonstrated by a short letter in Portuguese, explaining the level of knowledge of Portuguese language and how this was obtained.

The admission is conditioned by the acceptance and approval of the application by the Director of the programme. Finally, the right to being admitted in the cycle of studies leading to a PhD degree acquired after approval and acceptance of the application is formalized in the act of registration at the ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office, which must occur within legally established dates each year.

Application process

Applications should be submitted online, via the SIGARRA platform, selecting Online applications, Doctoral Programme in Animal Science - Admission scheme in Doctoral Programme. The payment of the UP application fee (55€), to ICBAS, University of Porto, is mandatory. To pay the application fee the option "Current Account" must be accessed on the right side of the screen and the respective ATM reference will be generated. The application will be only considered valid after the reception of confirmation of the payment by the SIBS.

For further information on how to apply and detailed guidance, applicants are suggested to contact the ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office - Ana Paula Pereira::

E-mail: |

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26
Opening hours: 10.00-12:00h and 14:00-15:30h


  • SANFEED application-form including personal details and research project synopsis related to a SANFEED topic (download file below)
  • Identity card/Passport
  • Motivation letter
  • Sample of own scientific text (e.g. international publication)
  • English proficiency proof
  • Degrees certificates
  • Short letter in Portuguese (only for foreign students)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Reference letters (Maximum two)
  • Confirmation of the application fee payment by the SIBS

All applications will be checked on their technical admission requirements and according to FCT regulations. In case candidates do not fulfill these requirements they will not be academically reviewed. Some candidates might also be interviewed. The selection of eligible candidates will be based on the candidate’s abilities, interest and enthusiasm for the selected research topic taking into consideration pre-defined criteria and a balance among WPs. Each member of the Directive Board will assess and score each eligible application according to the following criteria: 1) quality of the CV as indicated by (i) academic formation and degrees qualifications (ii) previous knowledge/research skills (1-40 points); 2) adequacy of the candidate skills, abilities and capabilities from the thesis project elaborated by the candidate (1-40 points); 3) good command of English oral and written expression (1-10 points); 4) basic knowledge of Portuguese language (1-5 points); personal motivation and career plan (1-5 points); and 5) recommendation letters (1-5 points).

The short-listed best applicants will be notified until the 10th October 2016 and asked by e-mail to submit a selective application under a provisional assigned topic. These candidates are put into direct contact with the potential supervisors, who will assist them in developing a detailed and sound thesis project that will be submitted to the Secretary of the ANIMAL SCIENCE Doctoral Programme until the 26th October 2016. The provisory results will be announced until the 28th October.

Final results will be announced until the 18th November 2016 and selected students will have to register in “Gabinete de Pós-Graduação” of ICBAS from 21th to 25th November 2016. These students will also have to contact ICBAS’ Tesouraria for payment of the registration process (inscription 100€ and insurance 2€) according the legislation at the registration date.

Numerus clausus

The Program accepts a maximum of 5 students in 2016 fully funded by bursaries from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the SANFEED industrial partners according to FCT regulations.

Application Form

form here


ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26

Opening hours:
10h:00 - 12h:00
14h:00 - 15h:30

Director of the SANFEED

António José Mira da Fonseca

Director of the SANFEED
scientific board

Luísa Maria Pinheiro Valente