Contacts Centre for Environmental Biology



CBA research group(s):

Evolutionary Genetics

Personal webpage

Team webpage

Ana Elisabete Pires

Main Research Interests

Domestic Dogs 
Population Genetics has been the area of my scientific research. For the last years I have been studying the genetic variability, population structure and phylogeography of a very particular human domesticate species-the domestic dog, from two interesting geographic places - the Iberian Peninsula and North-West Africa regions.  I am interested in domestic dog breeds because
1) it is one of the most curious and interesting human domesticate species, and
2) peripheral dog breeds such as the ones from Iberia Peninsula and North Africa, are have not been studied before.
These represent a great case study to address issues such as local domestication or local hybrization post-domestication processes. The origin of these breeds, their genetic structure and phylogenetic affinities with other breeds and with the Iberian wolf, have been my main research topics.
Presently I am the Principal Investigator of a research funded by FCT - PTDC/HIS-ARQ/100225/2008 - Tracing back animal domestication in Iberia: Clues from zooarchaeology and DNA analysis, aiming to understand the temporal changes of the genetic  variability of four species: auroch, cattle, Iberian wolf and domestic dog. We are interested in answering to the following questions:

a) Is there any molecular evidence for an independent domestication process of the wild species Bos primigenius and Canis lupus in the Iberian Peninsula, which may have been the origin of some of the native breeds of cattle and dogs, respectively, which exist today in this region?

b) What is the genetic makeup of ancient/old skeletal remains of dogs and cattle found in this geographic region, and how does it compare with that found in modern breeds? How has the genetic variability evolved over time? Are the genetic changes related to historical events, such as the Muslim occupation of the southern Iberian Peninsula?

c) Has there been a change in the genetic composition of the Iberian breeds due to improvement through the introduction of animals from other regions (e.g. from North Africa)? What was the contribution of wild animals (introgression)?

d) What is the degree of compatibility between osteometric information and archeo-genetic data? For example, does the gender and species identification of bone remains based on DNA analysis confirm osteometric data?

Co-investigators: Catarina Ginja; Cleia Detry; Simon Davis; João Luis Cardoso; Francisco Petrucci-Fonseca; José Matos; Fernanda Simões; Isabel Amorim .

Consultants: Catherine Hänni (ENS-Lyon IGFL/France); Anders Gotherstrom (Uppsala University EBC/Sweden).

Preliminary Results: Presented recently at the VI Encontro Nacional de Biologia Evolutiva, Dezembro 2010, at FCUL, Lisbon. See Posters Presentations here and here.


Academic Qualifications

- 2006 - PhD in Molecular Biology, University of Lisbon, Portugal
- 2000 - Scholar year of Master degree in Applied Biochemistry, University of Lisbon, Portugal
-1996 - 5-year college graduation in Biology, University of Lisbon, Portugal


Recent Publications

Afonso A.B., Justo L.N., Queirós A.C., Fesel C., Cabral M.S., Gomes da Silva M., Porrata L., Markovic S., Pires A.E. & João C. 2013. Treatment with low doses of polyclonal immunoglobulin improves B cell function during immune reconstitution in a murine model. Journal of Clinical Immunology 33(2):407-419.

Costa N., Pires A.E., Gabriel A.M., Goulart L.F., Pereira C., Leal B., Queiros A.C., Chaara W., Moraes-Fontes M.F., Vasconcelos C., Ferreira C., Martins J., Bastos M., Santos M.J., Pereira M.A., Martins B., Lima M., João C., Six A., Demengeot J. & Fesel C. 2013. Broadened T-cell repertoire diversity in ivIg-treated SLE patients is also related to the individual status of regulatory T-cells. Journal of Clinical Immunology 33(2):349-360.

Davis S.J.M., Svensson E., Albarella U., Detry C.,Götherström A., Pires A.E. & Ginja C. 2012. Molecular and Osteometric Sexing Of Cattle Metacarpals: A Case Study From 15th Century AD Beja, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(5):1445–1454.

Pires A.E., Afonso A.F., Queirós A., Cabral M.S., Porrata L., Markovic S.N., Kaveri S.V., Gomes da Silva M. & João C. 2010. Treatment with polyclonal Immunoglobulin during T-cell reconstitution promotes naïve T cell proliferation. J Immunotherr 33:618–625.

Borges C., Simoes F., Fonseca F.P., Matos J. & Pires A.E. 2009. A multiplex snapshot assay for detection of Y-chromosome SNPs in dogs and the Iberian wolves. Archivos de Zootecnia, Supplement Vol. 1, N 224: 497-499.

Pires A.E., Amorim I.R., Ginja C., Godinho, I., Gomes M., Simões F., Oom M.M., Petrucci-Fonseca F., Matos J. & Bruford M.W. 2009. Molecular structure in peripheral dog breeds: Portuguese native breeds as a case study. Animal Genetics 40(3):323-332

Pires A.E., Ouragh L., Kalboussi M., Matos J., Petrucci-Fonseca F. & Bruford M.W. 2006. Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in Portuguese native dog breeds: diversity and phylogenetic affinities. Journal of Heredity 97(4):318-330.

Pires A.E. & Fernandes M. 2003. Last lynxes in Portugal? Molecular approaches in a pre-extiction scenario. Conservation Genetics 4:525-532.


Ongoing projects

  • PTDC/HIS-ARQ/120183/2010 - HDI - Horse Domestication in Iberia – What else is there to be known? - Co-Investigator

  • PTDC/HIS-ARQ/100225/2008 - Tracing back animal domestication in Iberia: Clues from zooarchaeology and DNA analysis - Principal Investigator


Other Information

Assistant Professor of Genetics and Animal Improvement, and Immunology - Veterinary Medicine course / Universidade Lusófona, Portugal.

Researcher at Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos – INIA, Grupo de Biologia Molecular, Portugal.

International Collaborations:

- Lorna Kennedy, School Medicine Univ Manchester, (UK)
- Marta Castelhano, College of Veretinary Medicine, Univ Cornell (USA)
- Katherine Belov, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences,University Sidney (Australia)
- Cecilia Penedo, UC Davis (USA)
- Catherine Hanni, CNRS-Lyon (France)
- Emma Svensson, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of Uppsala (Sweden)
- Anders Gotherstrom, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of Uppsala (Sweden)
- Carlos Fernandez Rodriguez, Fac. de Filosofía y Letras/University of Léon (Spain)
- Adrien Six, UPMC-Paris-6/CNRS-UMR7211/AP-HP, Paris, France (France)
- Sniri Kaveri, Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, Université Pierre et Marie Curie France (France)