Biology & Marine Biology

Faculty & Staff

Susanna Lopez-Legentil, Associate Professor

lopez_Legentil.jpg Ph.D., Zoology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2005
M.S., Biological Oceanography and Marine Environment, University of Paris VI, France, 2001
B.S., Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2000
Myrtle Grove 2327 | (910) 962-2615 | Center for Marine Science, 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC, 28409-5928 | |

Research interests
Multidisciplinary approaches to the biology and ecology of marine invertebrates as it relates to their susceptibility to anthropogenic impacts and climate change. Specific research lines include:

  • Invasive ecology of introduced ascidians
    • Species identification and barcoding
    • Population connectivity and phylogeography
    • Life cycle characterization
  • Stability and significance of symbiotic microbial communities in sponges and ascidians
    • Biodiversity and specificity
    • Symbiont stability and host resilience
    • Secondary metabolite production and ecological significance

Background information

  • Ascidians and sponges are filter-feeding organisms with an abundance and diversity of species and functions that render them critical to healthy ecosystem functioning
    • Sponges provide refuge for many small invertebrates and are critical to benthic-pelagic coupling
    • Ascidians are important fouling organisms, sometimes becoming invasive and disrupting the organization of the local benthic community
  • Sponges and ascidians commonly host diverse and dense autotrophic and heterotrophic bacterial communities as well as archaeal symbionts
    • The consequences of harboring symbiotic microbes may range from increased holobiont susceptibility to enhanced adaptive capacity and resilience of the host
    • Pharmaceutically interesting secondary metabolites are produced by sponge and ascidian holobionts as a defense mechanism against predation, competition and fouling


See Dr. López-Legentil's webpage (