My main area of expertise is invertebrate immunotoxicity induced by pollutants and other xenobiotics. During my M.S. and Ph.D. training I’ve investigated the effects of harmful algal toxins on the immune system of marine bivalves; and the effects of suppression of the antioxidant system of oysters on their immune status and susceptibility to infection. As a Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University, I started investigating if mitochondria are a major target of antimicrobial silver nanoparticles using mouse hepatocytes. Currently, I’m using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to understand how mitochondrial dysfunction induced by pollutant exposure early in life can result in life-lasting and intergenerational effects, with a particular interest in the effects on innate immunity. Throughout my academic career, I was constantly involved in teaching, beginning as a Teaching Assistant in Biochemistry and Cell Biology courses since my M.S. training, during which I had the opportunity to give several lectures. Now, as a Postdoctoral Associate, I taught a full Ecotoxicology course. Recently, translating science to the general public has become a new topic of interest of mine, therefore I’ve been also involved in different Science Communication and Outreach activities. Keywords: environmental toxicology; ecotoxicology; immunotoxicity; bivalve immunity; Caenorhabditis elegans; mitochondrial toxicity; invertebrate innate immunity; host-pathogen interactions; antioxidant system; pollution.

Personal identification

Full name
Danielle Ferraz Mello

Citation names

  • Mello, Danielle F.

Author identifiers

Ciência ID


Mobile phone
  • (+1) 9195190230 (Personal)


  • 2511 Croasdaile Farm Pkwy Apt 08, 27705, Durham, North Carolina, United States (Personal)


  • https://www.daniellefmello.com/ (Professional)

Knowledge fields

  • Natural sciences - Biological Sciences


Language Speaking Reading Writing Listening Peer-review
Portuguese (Mother tongue)
English Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Advanced (C1)
French Intermediate (B1) Upper intermediate (B2) Elementary (A2) Upper intermediate (B2) Elementary (A2)
Spanish; Castilian Beginner (A1) Intermediate (B1) Beginner (A1) Intermediate (B1)
Degree Classification
2012/03 - 2016/03
Biochemistry (Doctor of Philosophy)
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
"Detection of potential oyster pathogens in Santa Catarina and study of oyster immune and antioxidant-related defense mechanisms" (THESIS/DISSERTATION)
2010/03 - 2012/02
Biochemistry (Master Universitario)
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
"Effects of harmful algae and phycotoxins in hemocytes of Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas" (THESIS/DISSERTATION)
2005/03 - 2009/12
Biological Sciences (Bachelor)
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
"Use of immunological markers in the clam Anomalocardia brasiliana for assessing the environmental quality of the Marine Extractive Reserve of Pirajubae, Florianopolis/SC." (THESIS/DISSERTATION)


Host institution
2013/03 - 2014/02 Research Trainee (Research) Université de Montpellier, France
2009/08 - 2009/09 Research Trainee (Research) University of Plymouth, United Kingdom
2009/06 - 2009/07 Research Trainee (Research) Université de Montpellier, France

Teaching in Higher Education

Host institution
2019/01 - 2019/05 Lecturer (University Teacher) Duke University, United States

Positions / Appointments

Host institution
2016/04/04 - Current Postdoctoral Associate Duke University, United States


Designation Funders
2012 - 2016/03 Detection of potential oyster pathogens in Santa Catarina and study of immune and antioxidant-related defense mechanisms in oysters
PhD Student Fellow
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
2010 - 2012/02 Effects of harmful algae and phycotoxins in hemocytes of Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas
Master Student Fellow
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
2006 - 2010/02 Evaluation of immune parameters in marine bivalves exposed to environmental stressors
Scientific Initiation Fellow
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil


Designation Funders
2018 - Current Effects of mitochondrial toxicants on innate immunity and pathogen resistance
Duke University, United States
2017 - Current Does exposure to mitochondrial toxicants during germ cell development result in lifelong alterations in mitochondrial function mediated by epigenetic changes?
Duke University, United States
National Institutes of Health
2017 - Current Are mitochondria a major target of antimicrobial silver nanoparticles?
Duke University, United States
National Institutes of Health
2016 - 2017/04 Genetic analysis of innate immunity using C. elegans
National Institutes of Health


Conference poster
  1. Mello, Danielle F.. "Linking mitochondrial dysfunction during development with pathogen resistance later in life.". Paper presented in 22nd International C. elegans Conference, 2019.
  2. Mello, Danielle F.. "Caenorhabditis elegans mitochondrial bioenergetics during development: advances using the Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer". Paper presented in 22nd International C. elegans Conference, 2019.
  3. Mello, Danielle F.. "Pro-longevity suppression of different electron transport chain subunits mildly impact mitochondrial respiration and mtDNA copy number". Paper presented in C. elegans Stress, Pathogenesis, Aging, Metabolism and Small RNAs (SPAMS) Meeting, 2018.
  4. Mello, Danielle F.. "Overcoming experimental confounders when assessing silver nanoparticle toxicity". Paper presented in SETAC North America 38th Annual Meeting, 2017.
  5. Mello, Danielle F.. "Effects of glutathione depletion in a marine bivalve". Paper presented in SETAC Latin America 11th Biennial Meeting, 2015.
Journal article
  1. Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Trevisan, Rafael; Danielli, Naissa Maria; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "Vulnerability of glutathione-depleted Crassostrea gigas oysters to Vibrio species". Marine Environmental Research 154 (2020): 104870. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.104870.
  2. Mello, Danielle F.; Trevisan, Rafael; Rivera, Nelson; Geitner, Nicholas K.; Di Giulio, Richard T.; Wiesner, Mark R.; Hsu-Kim, Heileen; Meyer, Joel N.. "Caveats to the use of MTT, neutral red, Hoechst and Resazurin to measure silver nanoparticle cytotoxicity". Chemico-Biological Interactions 315 (2020): 108868. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cbi.2019.108868.
  3. Hartman, Jessica H.; Richie, Christopher T.; Gordon, Kacy L.; Mello, Danielle F.; Castillo, Priscila; Zhu, April; Wang, Yun; et al. "MANF deletion abrogates early larval Caenorhabditis elegans stress response to tunicamycin and Pseudomonas aeruginosa". European Journal of Cell Biology 98 5-8 (2019): http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcb.2019.05.002.
  4. Maglioni, Silvia; Mello, Danielle F.; Schiavi, Alfonso; Meyer, Joel N.; Ventura, Natascia. "Mitochondrial bioenergetic changes during development as an indicator of C. elegans health-span". Aging 11 16 (2019): http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.102208.
  5. Dreier, David A.; Mello, Danielle; Meyer, Joel; Martyniuk, Christopher J.. "Linking mitochondrial dysfunction to organismal and population health in context of environmental pollutants: Progress and considerations for mitochondrial adverse outcome pathways". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (2019): http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.4453.
  6. Luz Cunha, Ana C.; Pontinha, Vitor de A.; de Castro, Maria Alcina M.; Sühnel, Simone; Medeiros, Sthefanie C.; Moura da Luz, Ângela M.; Harakava, Ricardo; et al. "Two epizootic Perkinsus spp. events in commercial oyster farms at Santa Catarina, Brazil". Journal of Fish Diseases 42 3 (2019): 455-463. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jfd.12958.
  7. Hibshman, Jonathan D.; Leuthner, Tess C.; Shoben, Chelsea; Mello, Danielle F.; Sherwood, David R.; Meyer, Joel N.; Baugh, L. Ryan. "Nonselective autophagy reduces mitochondrial content during starvation in Caenorhabditis elegans". American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology 315 6 (2018): C781-C792. http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00109.2018.
  8. Meyer, Joel N; Hartman, Jessica H; Mello, Danielle F. "Mitochondrial Toxicity". Toxicological Sciences 162 1 (2018): 15-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfy008.
  9. Mello, D F; Danielli, N M; Curbani, F; Pontinha, V A; Suhnel, S; Castro, M A M; Medeiros, S C; et al. "First evidence of viral and bacterial oyster pathogens in the Brazilian coast". Journal of Fish Diseases 41 3 (2017): 559-563. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jfd.12755.
  10. Danielli, Naissa Maria; Trevisan, Rafael; Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Fischer, Kelvis; Deconto, Vanessa Schadeck; da Silva Acosta, Daiane; Bianchini, Adalto; Bainy, Afonso Celso Dias; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "Upregulating Nrf2-dependent antioxidant defenses in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas: Investigating the Nrf2/Keap1 pathway in bivalves". Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology 195 (2017): 16-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpc.2017.02.004.
  11. Nogueira, Lílian; Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Trevisan, Rafael; Garcia, Danielly; da Silva Acosta, Daiane; Dafre, Alcir Luiz; de Almeida, Eduardo Alves. "Hypoxia effects on oxidative stress and immunocompetence biomarkers in the mussel Perna perna (Mytilidae, Bivalvia)". Marine Environmental Research 126 (2017): 109-115. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2017.02.009.
  12. Trevisan, Rafael; Flores-Nunes, Fabrício; Dolores, Euler S.; Mattos, Jacó J.; Piazza, Clei E.; Sasaki, Sílvio T.; Taniguchi, Satie; et al. "Thiol oxidation of hemolymph proteins in oysters Crassostrea brasiliana as markers of oxidative damage induced by urban sewage exposure". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 36 7 (2016): 1833-1845. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.3543.
  13. Trevisan, Rafael; Mello, Danielle F.; Delapedra, Gabriel; Silva, Danilo G.H.; Arl, Miriam; Danielli, Naissa M.; Metian, Marc; Almeida, Eduardo A.; Dafre, Alcir L.. "Gills as a glutathione-dependent metabolic barrier in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas : Absorption, metabolism and excretion of a model electrophile". Aquatic Toxicology 173 (2016): 105-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2016.01.008.
  14. Uchoa, Mariana Figueiroa; de Souza, Luiz Felipe; dos Santos, Danubia Bonfanti; Peres, Tanara Vieira; Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Leal, Rodrigo Bainy; Farina, Marcelo; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "Modulation of Brain Glutathione Reductase and Peroxiredoxin 2 by a-Tocopheryl Phosphate". Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 36 6 (2016): 1015-1022. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10571-015-0298-z.
  15. Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Arl, Miriam; Trevisan, Rafael; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "How important are glutathione and thiol reductases to oyster hemocyte function?". Fish & Shellfish Immunology 46 2 (2015): 566-572. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsi.2015.07.017.
  16. Trevisan, Rafael; Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Uliano-Silva, Marcela; Delapedra, Gabriel; Arl, Miriam; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "The biological importance of glutathione peroxidase and peroxiredoxin backup systems in bivalves during peroxide exposure". Marine Environmental Research 101 (2014): 81-90. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2014.09.004.
  17. Trevisan, Rafael; Delapedra, Gabriel; Mello, Danielle F.; Arl, Miriam; Schmidt, Éder C.; Meder, Fabian; Monopoli, Marco; et al. "Gills are an initial target of zinc oxide nanoparticles in oysters Crassostrea gigas, leading to mitochondrial disruption and oxidative stress". Aquatic Toxicology 153 (2014): 27-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2014.03.018.
  18. Erik Simões; Renato Campos Vieira; Mathias Alberto Schramm; Danielle Ferraz Mello; Vitor De Almeida Pontinha; Patrícia Mirella da Silva; Margherita Anna Barracco. "Impact of harmful algal blooms (Dinophysis acuminata) on the immune system of oysters and mussels from Santa Catarina, Brazil". J. Mar. Biol. Ass. 95 04 (2014): 773-781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0025315414001702.
  19. Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Silva, Patricia Mirella da; Barracco, Margherita Anna; Soudant, Philippe; Hégaret, Hélène. "Effects of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum and its toxin (saxitoxin) on the functional activity and gene expression of Crassostrea gigas hemocytes". Harmful Algae 26 (2013): 45-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2013.03.003.
  20. Mello, Danielle F.; de Oliveira, Eliza S.; Vieira, Renato C.; Simoes, Erik; Trevisan, Rafael; Dafre, Alcir Luiz; Barracco, Margherita Anna. "Cellular and Transcriptional Responses of Crassostrea gigas Hemocytes Exposed in Vitro to Brevetoxin (PbTx-2)". Marine Drugs 10 12 (2012): 583-597. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md10030583.
  21. Trevisan, Rafael; Arl, Miriam; Sacchet, Cássia Lopes; Engel, Cristiano Severino; Danielli, Naissa Maria; Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Brocardo, Caroline; Maris, Angelica Francesca; Dafre, Alcir Luiz. "Antioxidant deficit in gills of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) exposed to chlorodinitrobenzene increases menadione toxicity". Aquatic Toxicology 108 (2012): 85-93. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2011.09.023.
  22. Trevisan, Rafael; Ferraz Mello, Danielle; Fisher, Andrew S.; Schuwerack, Petra-Manuela; Dafre, Alcir Luiz; Moody, A. John. "Selenium in water enhances antioxidant defenses and protects against copper-induced DNA damage in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis". Aquatic Toxicology 101 1 (2011): 64-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.09.003.
  23. Mello, Danielle Ferraz; Proença, Luis Antonio de Oliveira; Barracco, Margherita Anna. "Comparative Study of Various Immune Parameters in Three Bivalve Species during a Natural Bloom of Dinophysis acuminata in Santa Catarina Island, Brazil". Toxins 2 5 (2010): 1166-1178. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins2051166.

Oral presentation

Presentation title Event name
Host (Event location)
2020/01 Using invertebrate models to investigate chemical-induced immunotoxicity Duke Integrated Toxicology & Environmental Health Program Seminar Series
Duke University (Durham, United States)
2019/11 Pollution and Toxicology Lecture for Environmental Science and Policy (ENV 102) course
Duke University (Durham, United States)
2019 Effects of glutathione depletion in oyster immunocompetence and survival upon oxidative and bacterial challenges 20th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms
(Charleston, United States)
2018/10 Nanotoxicology Lecture for Environmental Toxicology (ENV501) course
Duke University (Durham, United States)
2018 Assessment of silver nanoparticle toxicity: overcoming experimental confounders and testing mitochondrial toxicity 13th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials (ICEENN 2018)
(Durham, United States)
2018 Overcoming experimental confounders when assessing silver nanoparticle toxicity 7th Young Environmental Scientist's (YES) Meeting
(Madison, United States)
2018 Rotenone-induced mitochondrial dysfunction alters pathogen resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans SETAC North America 39th Annual Meeting
(Sacramento, United States)
2017/10 Nanotoxicology Lecture for Environmental Toxicology (ENV501) course
Duke University (Durham, United States)
2016 How animals defend themselves against microorganisms 1st Science Day at North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM)
(Durham, United States)
2013 Antioxidant system and immunocompetence of pacific oyster hemocytes under a xenobiotic challenge 17th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms
(Faro, Portugal)
2012 Harmful algae and phycotoxins effects upon gene expression of defense related genes in oyster hemocytes XII Congresso Brasileiro de Ecotoxicologia
2011 In vitro effects of Alexandrium minutum and saxitoxins upon hemocyte functions of Crassostrea gigas 16th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms
(Long Beach, United States)
2009 Monitoramento da qualidade ambiental da Reserva Extrativista Marinha do Pirajubaé (REMAPI), Florianópolis/SC e da condição de saúde do Berbigão Anomalocardia brasiliana através da avaliação de parâmetros hemato-imunológicos 19° Seminário de Iniciação Científica da UFSC
2009 Modulation of some hemato-immunological parameters in three bivalve species during a natural bloom of the dinoflagellate Dinophysis acuminata in Santa Catarina island, Brazil. 15th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms
(Bordeaux, France)

Event organisation

Event name
Type of event (Role)
Institution / Organization
2018/12/11 - 2018/12/12 The use of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the zebrafish Danio rerio as model organisms in toxicology studies: from the environment to human health (2018/12/11)
Workshop (Co-organisor)
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
2018 - 2018 3rd Science Day at North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM), Durham, NC. USA. (2018)
Other (Co-organisor)
2017 - 2017 3rd Postdocumentaries: connecting Duke Postdocs to middle school students (2017)
Other (Co-organisor)
2017 - 2017 2nd Science Day at North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM), Durham, NC. USA. (2017)
Other (Co-organisor)

Event participation

Activity description
Type of event
Event name
Institution / Organization
2018 - 2018 Science fair demo instructor about “Seeing what water pollution can do”. Goal: Learn how to use a microscope and visualize fish embryos (zebrafish) and worms (C. elegans) after toxic exposures.
Lakewood’s Science Night
Lakewood Elementary School, United States
2018 - 2018 Science fair workshop instructor about “worms with sunburns”. Goal: Teach the students about DNA damage by sunlight (UV light) and mention some repair mechanisms, and about how transgenic worms (C. elegans) can help in the research of harmful effects of environmental exposures.
Carolina Friends School Science Day
Carolina Friends School Middle School, United States
2016 - 2016 Science day presentation about "How animals defend themselves against microorganisms".
1st Science Day at North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM)
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, United States
2016 - 2016 Interviewed by middle school students about my scientific career (interview available on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTu4eV6m_RA&list=FL9nibrZDGPJMApNgg7uzoyA)
Duke University, United States

Association member

Society Organization name Role
2017/05 - 2019/02 Duke University Postdoc Association Outreach Chair

Course / Discipline taught

Academic session Degree Subject (Type) Institution / Organization
2019/01 - 2019/05 Ecotoxicology (ENVIRON610) Duke University, United States
2010 - 2015 Biochemistry for Biological Sciences major students (Teaching assistant and lecturer) (Bachelor) Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Mentoring / Tutoring

Topic Student name
2018/10 - Current Shefali Bijwadia
2018/06 - Current Christina Bergemann
2019/06 - 2019/08 Yang Wang
2019/06 - 2019/08 Alexis Caldwell
2018/10 - 2019/01 Sean Cho
2018/10 - 2018/12 Christine Bergamini
2016/04 - 2017/03 Caroline Bay
2014 - 2015 Fernando Curbani
2012 - 2013 Leandro Espindola
2010 - 2012 Eliza Simão de Oliveira
2010 - 2012 Renato Vieira

Other jury / evaluation

Activity description Institution / Organization
2018 - Current Science fair judge - NC Science & Engineering Fair Region 3b North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics, United States


2008 Honors for Academic Performance
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
2007 Honors for Academic Performance
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
2006 Honors for Academic Performance
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil