The Membrane Biophysics Laboratory



Building 8, Laboratory 2.22.1

Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering.

University of Algarve

Phone: +351 289 244 440

Team Members

Jorge Martins (Principal Investigator)
Joana Cristo (MSc Biomedical Sciences)
Ana Silva (Graduation Biochemistry)
Dalila Arrais (PhD Biochemistry) – Part-time
Miguel Manuel (PhD Biochemistry) – Part-time

About the MBL

The Membrane Biophysics Laboratory (MBL) examines biomembranes using UV/Vis absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy techniques. Studies conducted within this laboratory include the characterization of the membrane structure, the organization and dynamics of membranes, the solvation and polarity properties of lipid bilayers and the influences of cholesterol in membrane based pathologies. The modelling of diffusion and reactions in two-dimensional media and the molecular partitioning of proteins and solutes into lipid bilayers are also actively investigated by this group.

Publications (2011-2017)

Fouzi Mouffouk, Teresa Simão, Daniel Dornelles, André D. Lopes, Pablo Sau, Jorge Martins, Khalid M. Abu-Salah, Salman A. Alrokayan, Ana M. Rosa da Costa and Nuno R. dos Santos (2015) “Self-assembled polymeric nanoparticles as new smart contrast agents for breast cancer early detection using magnetic resonance imaging” Int. J. Nanomed. 10:1-14.

António M. T. Martins do Canto, Patrícia D. Santos, Jorge Martins and Luís M. S. Loura (2015) “Behavior of pyrene as a polarity probe in palmitoylsphingomyelin and palmitoylsphingomyelin/cholesterol bilayers: a molecular dynamics simulation study” Colloids Surf. A: Physicochem. Eng. Aspects 480:296-306.

Ghazal Ebadzad, Clara Medeira, Isabel Maia, Jorge Martins and Alfredo Cravador (2015) “Induction of defence responses by cinnamomins against Phytophthora cinnamomi in Quercus suber and Quercus ilex subs. Rotundifolia” Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 143:705-723.

Luís M. S. Loura, António M. T. Martins do Canto, Jorge Martins (2013) “Sensing hydration and behavior of pyrene in POPC and POPC/cholesterol bilayers: A molecular dynamics study” Biochim. Biophys. Acta – Biomembranes 1828:1094-1101.

Jorge Martins, Dalila Arrais, and Miguel Manuel (2012) “Can pyrene be localized inside lipid bilayers by simultaneously measuring Py values, and fulfilling the excimer formation conditions?” Chem. Phys. Lipids 165:866-869.

Fouzi Mouffouk, Ana M. Rosa da Costa, Jorge Martins, Mohammed Zourob, Khalid M. Abu-Salah, Salman A. Alrokayan (2011) “Development of a highly sensitive bacteria detection assay using fluorescent pH-responsive polymeric micelles” Biosens. Bioelectron. 26:3517-3523.

Project Grants

Project Leader

PTDC/QUI-BIQ/112943/2009 “On characterizing polarity within phospholipid/cholesterol lipid bilayers and its effects in membrane enzymology”.

POCTI/BCI/46174/2002 “Kinetic Modeling of Cellular Chemoreception: An Experimental Study”.


PTDC/QUI/64565/2006: “Molecular Crowding effects on the kinetics and thermodynamics of the interaction of amphiphilic molecules with proteins and with biological membranes”.

POCTI/BCI/38861/2001 “Modelling Biomembranes ‘Rafts’: Characterization of the Physical-Chemical Properties of Lipid Bilayer Membranes with ‘Raft’-like Structures”.

POCTI/QUI/45090/2002 “Structure, Tropisms and Molecular Dynamics of the Stratum Corneum Lipid Matrix. A Study in Model Systems”.

Representative Images


Probability density functions P(θ) of the angles between the long axis (A), the short axis (B), and the normal to the pyrene plane (defined as the vector product of the short and long axes; C), relative to the bilayer normal. Blue, red and green lines refer to the 0 mol%, 20 mol% and 40 mol% cholesterol systems, respectively.


Final snapshots of the 4-pyrene simulations for 0 (A) and 20 (B) mol% cholesterol systems. POPC CHn groups (n = 0–3), O atoms, N atoms, and P atoms are shown in red, cyan, blue and black, respectively. Water and cholesterol molecules are shown in cyan and bright green, respectively. Pyrene molecules are depicted in licorice drawing style. Scale bar length represents 1 nm in both panels.

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