Dr. Lucia Pita Galán - Staff scientist

Dr. Lucia Pita Galán

Research Division3: Marine Ecology
RU Marine Symbioses

Room: DW-311
Phone: +49 431 600-4487
Fax: +49 431 600-4482
Email: lpita(at)geomar.de

Düsternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel

Research Gate

Google Scholar

Research interest

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. This project is framed in the  CRC1182-B1 project "Metaorganisms"

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

Academic positions and education

  • march 2018-2020 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

  • 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

Publication list

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.

Bang C, Dagan T,..., Pita L,...,Bosch TCG (2018) Zoology ZOOL 25633. doi:10.1016/j.zool.2018.02.004

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. Appl Environ 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.


Contributions to meetings and seminars as presenting author

Invited talk at the Integrated Immunity in holobionts workshop. "The host in the sponge holobiont: from patterns to mechanisms". Lucía Pita. Montpellier (France). October 2018

Invited talk at the AAS Boden Research Conference on Origins and Function of the Animal Metaorganism." Expression patterns of immune receptors in two marine sponge species". Lucía Pita. Magnetic Island (Australia). March 2018

Oral communication at the 10th World Sponge Conference. "The response of sponges to microbial elicitors". Pita L, Höppner M, Ribes M, Hentschel U. Galway (Ireland). June 2017.

Poster at the Animal-Microbe Symbiosis Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Gordon Research Conference (GRC). "Responses of marine sponges to microbial patterns". Pita L, Höppner M, Ribes M, Hentschel U. West Dover VT (USA). June 2017.

Keynote talk at the International Conference on Holobionts. "Marine sponges: life in a sea of microbes". Lucía Pita. Paris (France). April 2017.

Poster at the 2nd International Symposium on Sponge Microbiology. “Microbial activity insights derived from metatranscriptomics”. Pita L; López-Legentil S; Erwin PM & Riesgo A. Baltimore MD (USA). October 2014.

Poster at the 2nd International Symposium on Sponge Microbiology. “Stability and host specificity in symbiotic archaea community structure associated with marine sponges”. Zhang F*; Pita L*; Erwin PM; Abaid S; López-Legentil S & Russell T Hill. Baltimore MD (USA). October 2014.

Invited seminar at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “Biogeography of sponge-associated bacteria and their vulnerability in a changing world”. Lucía Pita. Wilmington NC (USA). February 2014.

Oral communication at the 9th World Sponge Conference. “You’ve got a friend in me: High stability of Ircinia-associated bacterial communities over time and space”. Pita L; Erwin PM; Turon X & López-Legentil S. Fremantle (Australia). November 2013.

Poster at the 9th World Sponge Conference. “Till death do us apart: Stable sponge-bacteria associations under thermal and food shortage stresses”. Pita L; Erwin PM; Turon X & López-Legentil S. Fremantle (Australia). November, 2013.

Poster at Lower invertebrates symbiosis with microorganisms workshop. “Assessing the fidelity of sponge-bacteria relationships: spatial and host-specific structure of bacterial communities in Ircinia hosts”. Pita L; López-Legentil S & Erwin PM. Eilat (Israel). March 2012.

Poster at I International Symposium on Sponge Microbiology. “Spatial variation and host-specificity of bacterial assemblages in Caribbean sponges.”Pita, L; Erwin PM & López-Legentil S. Würzburg (Germany). March 2011.


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, with Université de Bretagne Occidentale-Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer and Institute Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor).