MSc. Maria-Cecilia Chiriac, Ph.D.

Job Position: Research Scientist - Department of Aquatic Microbial Ecology (AME)

Contact details

Phone: +420 387 77 5836
Room: 221 NB


My research was focused on the ecology and diversity of prokaryotes in extreme environments (e.g., hot spring habitats, hypersaline lakes) and moved recently towards the eco-genomics of Candidate Phyla Radiation (Patescibacteria) in freshwaters. This bacterial group was mainly encountered in groundwater samples, aquifer, and estuary sediments, while having unusually small genomes and limited metabolic capabilities. These characteristics could imply a symbiotic or parasitic lifestyle, which was already proven in a limited number of culturable representatives (Saccharibacteria, Vampirococcus lugosii etc.). My current aim is to explore for the first time the diversity and biosynthetic pathways of Patescibacteria from freshwater lakes on a wide scale with the use of long-term deep metagenomic sequencing. These results will add to our currently limited knowledge about the CPR ecological importance, functional roles, and biogeography.

Curriculum vitae


2014-2018: Ph.D. in Biology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

2012-2014: M.Sc. in Molecular Biotechnology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

2009-2012: B.Sc. in Biochemistry, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


Employment history:

• September 2019 – present: Postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre CAS, Czech Republic.

• March – August 2019: Scientific Researcher, Institute of Biological Research (INCDSB), Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

• 2014-2019 Research Assistant, Institute of Biological Research (INCDSB), Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Awards and grants:

• Postdoctoral grant 2021-2023 – “Programul 1 – Dezvoltarea sistemului național de cercetare-dezvoltare”, Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding, Ministry of National Education, Romania. Grant No. PD 177/2020.

• Postdoctoral grant 2019-2021 – “Program for the Support of Perspective Human Resources”, Czech Academy of Sciences, Grant No. PPPLZ ve13

• Mobility grant 2019 - BC Grant Programme “Incorporation of the Biology Centre of the CAS into the European Research Area”.

• PhD Scholarship 2015-2016 - “Quality, excellence, transnational mobility in doctoral research”, Grant No. POSDRU/187/1.5/S/155383.

• Mobility grant 2019– “Proiecte de mobilitate pentru cercetători”, Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding, Ministry of National Education, Romania. Grant No. PN-III-P1-1.1-MC-2019-0789


Online scientific profiles:

• Brainmap ID: U-1700-037D-7601

• Scopus Author ID: 56589710800

• ORCHID: 0000-0001-5130-5232

• ResearcherID: R-7093-2017.

• ResearchGate:


Selected publications:

• Baricz, A., Chiriac, C.M., Andrei, A.S., Bulzu, P.A., Levei, E.A. et al. 2020. Spatio-temporal insights into microbiology of the freshwater-to-hypersaline, oxic-hypoxic-euxinic waters of Ursu Lake. Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14909. 

• Kust A., Řeháková K., Vrba J., Maicher V., Mareš J., Hrouzek P., Chiriac M., Benedová Z., Tesařová M., Saurav K. 2020. Insight into unprecedented diversity of cyanopeptides in eutrophic ponds using an MS/MS networking approach. Toxins 12: 561. doi: 10.3390/toxins12090561.

• Remizovschi, A., Carpa, R., Forray, F.L., Chiriac, C., et al. 2020. Mud vulcanoes and the presence of PAHs. Nature Scientific Reports doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-58282-2. 

• Chiriac, C., Baricz, A., Szekeres, E., Rudi, K., Dragoș, N., Coman, C. 2018. Microbial composition and diversity patterns in deep hyperthermal aquifers from the Western Plain of Romania. Microbial Ecology 75(1):38-51. doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-1031-x.

• Chiriac, C.M, Szekeres, E., Rudi, K., Baricz, A.I., Hegedus, A., Dragos, N., Coman, C. 2017. Differences in temperature and water chemistry shape distinct diversity patterns in thermophilic microbial communities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83(21). pii: e01363-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01363-17. 

• Szekeres, E., Chiriac, M.C., Baricz, A., Szőke-Nagy, T., Lung, I., Soran, M.L., Rudi, K., Dragoș, N., Coman, C. 2018. Investigating antibiotics, antibiotic resistance genes, and microbial contaminants in groundwater in relation to the proximity of urban areas. Environmental Pollution 236:734-744. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.107. 

• Chiriac, C., Baricz, A., Coman, C. 2018. Draft genome sequence of Janthinobacterium sp. Strain ROICE36, a putative secondary metabolite-synthesizing bacterium isolated from Antarctic Snow. Microbiology Resource Announcements 6(15):e01553-17. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.01553-17.

• Coman, C., Chiriac, C.M., Robeson, M., Ionescu, C., Dragoș, N., Barbu-Tudoran, L., Andrei, Ș.A., Banciu, H.L., Sicora, C., Podar. M., 2015. Structure, mineralogy, and microbial diversity of geothermal spring microbialites associated with a deep oil drilling in Romania, Frontiers in Microbiology, 6:253. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00253. 

• Chiriac, C., Szekeres, E., Rudi, K. The metagenomic approach for microbial diversity investigation and antibiotic resistance evaluation in environmental samples. In (ed. Coman C) Methodological guide for monitoring antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in the environment. Accent Publishing Company, 2016, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. pp 325 – 359. ISBN 978-606-561-165-8.

• Dragos, N., Chiriac, C., Porav, S., Coman, C., Torok, L., Hegedus, A. 2018. Desmodesmus tropicus (Chlorophyta) in Danube Delta – reassessing the phylogeny of the series Maximi. European Journal of Phycology - accepted for publication. 

• Baricz, A., Teban, A., Chiriac, C.M., Szekeres, E., Farkas, A., Nica, M., Dascalu, A., Oprisan, C., Lavin, P., Coman, C. 2018. Investigating the potential use of an Antarctic variant of Janthinobacterium lividum for tackling antimicrobial resistance in a One Health approach. Nature Scientific Reports 8:15272. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33691-6. 

• Szekeres, E., Baricz, A., Chiriac, M.C., Farkas, A., Opris, O., Soran, M.L., Andrei, A.S., Rudi, K., Balcazar, J.L., Dragos, N., Comanc, C. 2017. Abundance of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial community composition în wastewater effluents from different Romanian hospitals. Environmental Pollution 225: 304-315. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.01.054. 

• Andrei, A.-S., Baricz, A., Robeson, M.S., Pausan, M.R., Tamas, T., Chiriac, C., Szekeres, E., Barbu-Tudoran, L., Levei, E.A., Coman, C., Podar, M., Banciu, H.L. 2017. Hypersaline sapropels act as hotspots for microbial dark matter. Scientific Reports 7: 6150. 

• Farkas, A., Craciunas, C., Chiriac, C., Szekeres, E., Coman, C., Butiuc-Keul, A. 2016. Exploring the role of coliform bacteria in class 1 integron carriage and biofilm formation during drinking water treatment. Microbial Ecology 72(4):773-782. doi: 10.1007/s00248-016-0758-0

Total found: 12 records
Briddon C.L., Miclăuş M., Hegedüs A., Chiriac M., Nicoară M., Drugă B. (2023) Long-term exposure to elevated temperature leads to altered gene expression in a common bloom-forming cyanobacterium. Limnology and Oceanography 68 : 2654–2667.
DOI: 10.1002/lno.12448
Chiriac M., Haber M., Salcher M. (2023) Adaptive genetic traits in pelagic freshwater microbes. Environmental Microbiology 25 : 606–641.
DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.16313
Kavagutti V., Bulzu P., Chiriac M., Salcher M., Mukherjee I., Shabarova T., Grujčić V., Mehrshad M., Kasalický V., Andrei A.S., Jezberová J., Seďa J., Rychtecký P., Znachor P., Šimek K., Ghai R. (2023) High‑resolution metagenomic reconstruction of the freshwater spring bloom. Microbiome 11 : 15.
DOI: 10.1186/s40168-022-01451-4
Kavagutti V., Chiriac M., Ghai R., Salcher M., Haber M. (2023) Isolation of phages infecting the abundant freshwater Actinobacteriota order ‘Ca. Nanopelagicales’. The ISME Journal 17 : 943–946.
DOI: 10.1038/s41396-023-01400-5
Ngugi D.K., Salcher M., Andrei A.S., Ghai R., Klotz F., Chiriac M., Ionescu D., Büsing P., Grossart H., Xing P., Priscu J.C., Alymkulov S., Pester M. (2023) Postglacial adaptations enabled colonization and quasi-clonal dispersal of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in modern European large lakes. Sciences Advances 9 : eadc9392.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adc9392
Brad T., Bizic M., Ionescu D., Chiriac M., Kenesz M., Roba C., Ionescu A., Fekete A., Mirea I.C., Moldovan O.T. (2022) Potential for natural attenuation of domestic and agricultural pollution in karst groundwater environments. Water 14 : 1597.
DOI: 10.3390/w14101597
Briddon C.L., Szekeres E. , Hegedüs A., Nicoară M., Chiriac M., Stockenreiter M., Drugă B. (2022) The combined impact of low temperatures and shifting phosphorus availability on the competitive ability of cyanobacteria. Scientific Reports 12 : 16409.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-20580-2
Chiriac M., Bulzu P., Andrei A.S., Okazaki Y., Nakano S., Haber M., Kavagutti V., Layoun P., Ghai R., Salcher M. (2022) Ecogenomics sheds light on diverse lifestyle strategies in freshwater CPR. Microbiome 10 : 84.
DOI: 10.1186/s40168-022-01274-3
Vadaq N., Schirmer M., Tunjungputri R.N., Vlamakis H., Chiriac M., Ardiansyah E., Gasem M.H., Joosten L.A.B., de Groot P.G., Xavier R.J., Netea M.G., van der Ven A., de Mast Q. (2022) Untargeted plasma metabolomics and gut microbiome profiling provide novel insights into the regulation of platelet reactivity in healthy individuals. Thrombosis and Haemostasis 122 : 529-539.
DOI: 10.1055/a-1541-3706
Bulzu P., Kavagutti V., Chiriac M., Vavourakis C.D. , Inoue K. , Kandori H. , Andrei A.S., Ghai R. (2021) Heliorhodopsin evolution is driven by photosensory promiscuity in monoderms. mSphere 6 : e00661-21.
DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00661-21
Drugă B., Ramm E., Szekeres E. , Chiriac M., Hegedüs A., Stockenreiter M. (2021) Long-term acclimation might enhance the growth and competitive ability of Microcystis aeruginosa in warm environments. Freshwater Biology 67 : 589–602.
DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13865
Kust A., Řeháková K., Vrba J., Maicher V., Mareš J., Hrouzek P., Chiriac M., Benedová Z., Tesařová M., Saurav K. (2020) Insight into unprecedented diversity of cyanopeptides in eutrophic ponds using an MS/MS networking approach Toxins 12 : 561.
DOI: doi:10.3390/toxins12090561


Biology Centre CAS
Institute of Hydrobiology
Na Sádkách 702/7
370 05 České Budějovice

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