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Dr. Noa Shenkar

מחלקה לזואולוגיה סגל אקדמי בכיר
Dr. Noa Shenkar
Phone: 03-6408655
Fax: 03-6407682
Office: Sherman - Life Sciences


1. Education


Period of study

Name of University



Date of Award


Tel-Aviv University





Tel-Aviv University

Zoology- Program in Ecology & Environmental Quality


*Summa cum laude



Tel-Aviv University







2. Academic and professional experience

October 2012-Current Senior Lecturer, Zoology Department, Tel-Aviv University


2011-2012 “VATAT” supported Research Fellow, National Collections of Natural History, Tel-Aviv University, Israel


2009-2011 Post-doctoral F ellow , Biology Department, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA. Topic: “ Molecular and Morphological Approaches to Ascidian Phylogeny and Systematics”. Advisor: Prof. Billie J Swalla


2008-2009 Post-doctoral fellow supported by “ VATAT ” , National Collections of Natural History, Tel-Aviv University, Israel



3. Research Grants


2012 :  The European Commission Marie Curie Career Integration Grants (CIG) €100,000 PI: Noa Shenkar


2013:  The German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development Young Scientists’ Program €40,000;  Yad-Hanadiv Ecosystem Services in Marine Environments: International Workshop Series. Workshop title: “Marine Bioinvasion in the Mediterranean”. $40,000; Israel Taxonomy Initiative- “Ascidian Taxonomy Workshop” together with Miss. Gretchen Lambert, University of Washington. $5,000;   Israel Taxonomy Initiative- “Biodiversity of Ascidians in the Gulf of Eilat” $9,500



4. Prizes and awards

             2013 Caroline von Humboldt Prize for young female researchers €15,000

             2008 Dan David Prize $10,000


Research Interests

The research in my laboratory is focused in two main topics:

  • On the taxonomic level: the class Ascidiacea (ascidians, sea-squirts), and
  • Marine bioinvasion.


   Ascidians (Phylum: Chordata , Class: Ascidiacea ), or sea squirts, are the largest and most diverse class of the sub-phylum Tunicata (also known as Urochordata ). Recent phylogenomic studies place the tunicates as the sister group to the vertebrates , suggesting they are our closest relatives among the invertebrates and providing a fertile ground for evolutionary and developmental studies. During the past two decades enormous progress has been achieved in the fields of development, evolution, immunology, natural products and ecology of ascidians.


Ascidians are a key ecological group because of their invasive potential and ability to thrive in eutrophic (nutrient-rich) environments. Introductions of non-indigenous ascidians into harbors in both tropical and temperate waters are now commonplace, with the rate of introductions increasing and creating severe damage to natural fauna by overgrowth and alternation of the benthic community. T he proximity of the Red Sea coral reef environment and the Israeli Mediterranean rocky shore, together with the opening of the Suez Canal, presents unique opportunities for studying marine bioinvasion along the coasts of Israel. The geographic advantage provides a productive ground for understanding patterns of marine invasion in space and time, and developing novel theories for predicting future introductions. Such research is of significant importance in view of environmental change.


Recent Publications

Koplovitz G, Hirose E, Hirose M, Shenkar N (2014) Being Green in the Red Sea - Ecology of the Photosymbiotic Ascidian Diplosoma simile (Ascidiacea: Didemnidae) in the Gulf of Aqaba. Syst Biodivers DOI: 10.1080/14772000.2014.978410


Levitt Y, De Grave S, Shenkar N (2014) First record of an invasive shrimp from the family Processidae (Crustacea, Decapoda) in the Mediterranean Sea. Medit Mar Sci 15: 650-653


Gewing M, Rhotman SBS, Raijman Nagar L, Shenkar N (2014) Early stages of establishment of the non-indigenous ascidian Herdmania momus (Savigny, 1816) in shallow and deep water environments on natural substrates in the Mediterranean Sea. BioInv Rec 3: 77-81


Rubinstein N, Feldstein T, Shenkar N, Botero Castro F, Griggio F, Mastrototaro F, Delsuc F, Douzery EJP, Gissi C, Huchon D (2013) Deep sequencing of mixed total DNA without barcodes allows efficient assembly of highly plastic ascidian mitochondrial genomes. Genome Biol Evol 5:1185-1199


Rubinstein N, Feldstein T, Shenkar N, Botero Castro F, Griggio F, Mastrototaro F, Delsuc F, Douzery EJP, Gissi C, Huchon D (2013) Sequencing of five Ascidian mitochondrial genomes using Illumina Technology and mixed total DNA without barcode. PLoS One, In Press


Shenkar N (2013) A new species of the genus Rhopalaea (Ascidiacea) from the Red Sea. Zootaxa,

3599 (1): 051–058


Appeltans et al. (+115 co-authors) (2012) Magnitude of global marine biodiversity: one third of sea creatures discovered. CurrBiol 22:1-14


Shenkar N (2012) Ascidian ( Chordata , Ascidiacea ) diversity in the Red Sea. Mar Biodiv doi 10.1007/s12526-012-0124-5


Rius M, Shenkar N (2012) Using Bayesian methods to unravel the phylogeography of an Indo-Pacific species in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar Pollut Bull


Shenkar N , Swalla BJS (2011) Global diversity of Ascidiacea. PLoS One, 6(6): e20657


Lambert G, Shenkar N, Swalla BJS (2010) First Pacific record of the north Atlantic ascidian Molgula citrina - bioinvasion or circumpolar distribution? Aquatic Inv 5:369-378


Shenkar N, Lambert G (2010) A new species of the genus Boltenia (Ascidiacea) from the Red Sea. Zootaxa 2391: 61–68


Shenkar N , Swalla BJS (2010) Molecular data confirms synonym in Roscovite molgulid ascidians. Cah Biol Mar 51:85-87


Tsagkogeorga G, Turon X, Hopcroft RR, Tilak M, Feldstein T, Shenkar N , Loya Y, Huchon D, Douzery E JP, Delsuc F (2009) An updated 18S rRNA phylogeny of tunicates based on mixture and secondary structure models. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:187


Singh TR, Tsagkogeorga G, Delsuc F, Blanquart S, Shenkar N , Loya Y, Douzery E JP, Huchon D (2009) Tunicate mitogenomics and phylogenetics: peculiarities of the Herdmania momus mitochondrial genome and support for the new chordate phylogeny. BMC Genomics 10:534


Shenkar N, Loya Y (2009) Non-indigenous ascidians along the Mediterranean coast of Israel.

Mar Biodiver Rec 2:1-7


Shenkar N, Loya Y (2008) The solitary ascidian Herdmania momus : native (Red Sea) vs. non-indigenous (Mediterranean) populations. Biol Inv 10:1431-1439


Shenkar N, Bronstein O, Loya Y (2008) Population dynamics of a coral reef ascidian in a deteriorating environment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:163-171


Shenkar N , Zeldman Y, Loya Y (2008) Ascidian recruitment patterns on an artificial reef in Eilat (Red Sea). Biofouling 24:119-128


Shenkar N , Monniot F (2006) A new species of the genus Botryllus (Ascidiacea) from the Red Sea. Zootaxa 1256:11-19


Shenkar N, Fine M, Kramarsky-Winter E, Loya Y (2005) Population dynamics of zooxanthellae during a bacterial bleaching event. Coral Reefs 25:223-227


Shenkar N, Fine M, Loya Y (2005) Size matters: bleaching dynamics of the coral Oculina patagonica . Mar Ecol Prog Ser 294:181-188





Shenkar N, Loya Y (2008) Ecology and systematics of the ascidian fauna in the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). In “Aqaba-Eilat, the Improbable Gulf. Environment, Biodiversity and Preservation” Editor FD Por, Magnes, Jerusalem. pp 197-208


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