Dr. Lucía Pita Galán

Research Division 3: Marine Ecology   
Research Unit:  Marine Symbioses

Düsternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel

Room: DW-311

Phone: +49 431 600-4487
Fax: +49 431 600-4482
Email: lpita(at)geomar.de

My Website

Google Scholar

Research interests

My research aim is to elucidate the mechanisms of homeostasis in animal-microbe symbiosis and how the association with microbes influences animal ecology, adaptation and evolution. My current project focuses on investigating host mechanisms of interaction with microbes in marine sponges, with particular focus on the immune system. This project is framed in the CRC1182-B1 project "Metaorganisms"

Keywords: microbial ecology; Immunology; RNA-seq; qPCR, aquarium experiments; sponge; species interaction; stress; population genetics

Academic positions and education

  • march 2018-2021 Staff scientist at GEOMAR Kiel
  • nov 2017-march2018 CRC1182 postdoctoral researcher, GEOMAR Kiel
  • 2015-2017 Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow, GEOMAR Kiel
  • 2014-2015 Postdoctoral researcher, University of Würzburg (Germany)
  • 2014 PhD in Biodiversity, cum laude, University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • 2010-2014 PhD student, University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • 2010 MSc. Fundamental and Applied Ecology, University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • 2009 BSc Biology, University of A Coruña (Spain)
  • 2008 Erasmus student, European Institute for Marine Studies (IUEM), University Western Brittany (France)

As part of my academic education and collaborations, I had also the opportunity to visit other research institutions in France, Italy, USA and Spain.

Awards, fellowships and grants

  • 2019-2022 DFG sequencing project IMMUBASE -PIs: Dr. Lucía Pita; Prof. Dr. Reusch (GEOMAR) and Prof. Dr. Schmitz-Streit (CAU Kiel).
  • 2015-2017 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award for Postdoctoral Researchers. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, The Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence
  • 2016 Future Ocean Cluster support fund.
  • 2014 Systematics Research Fund. Linnean Society of London " Species delineation in the sponge genus Ircinia using multigene datasets". PI: Dr. Ana Riesgo and Dr. Lucía Pita 
  • 2011-2014 PhD Fellowship Research. Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR, Catalan government)
  • 2013 Travel scholarship to the 9th World Sponge Conference awarded by the Scientific Committee
  • 2013 Research internship fellowship. AGAUR, Catalan Government. 3 month-research visit at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Baltimore MD (USA).
  • 2009 Undergraduate research scholarship. Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology at University of A Coruña (Spain)
  • 2007-2008 ERAMUS scholarship. Erasmus program, Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, University of A Coruña, Bancaja bank
  • 2005-2009 Scholarship for Bachelor studies, Spanish Ministry of Education and Science

Field work

My experience includes SCUBA diving (Catalan Coast, Spain); aquarium experiments (at the facilities in ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain and in GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany); participation in oceanographic expeditions as a student (R/V Cornide de Saavedra, Vigo, Spain with University of Barcelona; R/V Marion Dufresne, Brest, France-Algeciras, Spain, withUniversité de Bretagne Occidentale-Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer and Institute Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor).

For more information about my scientific activities and research profile, please visit My Website


MNF-bioc-201 Advanced Studies in Biological Oceanography- Lecture

Time and place: Tue, Wed, Thu 12:15 - 13:00, DW20 - R.B54 [Lecture hall (westshore)]
from 6.4.2020 to 5.7.2020

MNF-bioc-332 Current Topics in Marine Ecology II

Time and place: Wed 14:30 - 17:00, DW20 - R.B55 [Seminar.R. (westshore)]
from 6.11.2019 to 17.2.2020

29.1.2020: Hentschel Humeida, U. & Pita, L.: Holobiont concept and disease


Selected Publications (full list at Google Scholar)

Pita L, Hoeppner MP, Ribes M, Hentschel U (2018) Differential expression of immune receptors in two marine sponges upon exposure to microbial-associated molecular patterns. Scientific Reports 8:16081. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-34330-w

Pita L and Rix L, Slaby BM, Franke A, Hentschel U (2018) The sponge holobiont in a changing ocean: from microbes to ecosystems. Microbiome 6(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0428-1.

Pita L, Fraune S, Hentschel U (2016) Emerging sponge models of animal-microbe symbioses. Frontiers in Microbiology doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.02102

Riesgo A, Pérez-Portela R, Pita L, Blasco G, Erwin PM, López-Legentil S (2016) Population structure and connectivity in the Mediterranean sponge Ircinia fasciculata are affected by mass mortalities and hybridization. Heredity 117:427-439

Zhang F*, Pita L*, Erwin PM, Abaid S, López-Legentil S, Hill Russell T (2015) Symbiotic archaea in marine sponges show stability and host specificity in community structure and ammonia oxidation functionality. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 90(3):699-707. (*authors contributed equally to the study).

Pita L. (2014). Biogeography of sponge-associated bacterial communities and resilience to anthropogenic perturbations. PhD thesis. University of Barcelona.

Pita L, Erwin PM, Turon X & López-Legentil S (2013). Till death does us apart: Stable sponge-bacteria associations under thermal and food shortage stresses. PLoS One 8(11) e80307.

Pita L, Turon X, López-Legentil S & Erwin PM (2013) Host rules: spatial stability of bacterial communities associated with marine sponges (Ircinia spp) in the Western Mediterranean Sea. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 86:268-276

Pita L, López-Legentil S & Erwin PM (2013) Biogeography and host fidelity of bacterial communities in Ircinia spp from the Bahamas. Microb Ecol 66:437-447.

Erwin PM, Pita L, López-Legentil S & Turon X (2012) Stability of sponge-associated bacteria over large seasonal shifts in temperature and irradiance. ApplEnviron Microbiol 78(20):7358-7368.

Calderón I, Pita L, Brusciotti S, Palacín C & Turon X. (2012) Time and space:genetic structure of the cohorts of the common sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus in Western Mediterranean. Mar Biol 159:187-197.