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An expedition to study coastal ecosystems and their response to the environment, from molecules to communities  With TREC (Traversing European coastlines), we embark on a journey through European coastlines to explore the biodiversity and molecular adaptability of microbial communities as well as key selected organisms. We focus on coastal habitats as they are the richest in species biodiversity and they also often present the highest levels of pollution.


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A new era of coastal ecosystems exploration

TREC multinational core partners are the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Tara Ocean Foundation and European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC-ERIC). In Naples, one of the super-sites of the expedition, the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (SZN) acts as a local hosts, and develops activities in collaboration with NBFC.


Save the dates and join us!

Games, guided tours, exhibitions, amusing workshops, are waiting for you

 All activities are FREE of CHARGE

SZN organised various Public Engagement activities in cooperation with EMBL and TARA Foundation.

 Trec in the City – Travelling exhibition with portable microscope

Target: ages 6 - 99
What: Always wanted to play around with a microscope? Check out our pop-up stand! This travelling exhibition offers hands-on, “wow-science!” experiences on microscopy, and information about TREC, EMBL, SZN. A special portable microscope will show real samples from the expedition as well as samples from the nearest source of water to admire the invisible life.
Where and When:
Piazza Municipio, May 4, from 15:00 to 19:00
Città della Scienza, May 5, from 09:00 to 17:00
Toledo, May 7, from 16:00 to 19:00
Rotonda Diaz, May 8, from 16:00 to 19:00
Castel Dell’Ovo, May 9, from 16:00 to 19:00
Rotonda Diaz, May 10, from 16:00 to 19:00
Piazza Municipio, May 11, from 15:00 to 19:00
Piazza Plebiscito, May 12, from 15:00 - 19:00

Run, scientist, run! – Scientific “game of goose”

Target: ages 4 - 99
What: Come and play a giant Game of the Goose - the TREC edition! This life-sized ‘game of the goose’ allows people to experience the challenges and successes of sampling for a scientific expedition.
Where and When:
Combined with Trec in the City activity, except for May 9 

The Ocean, this unknown – Exhibition

Target: ages 8 - 99
What: An exhibition, designed as a journey, composed of 6 panels illustrated by an artist to carry a key message: the Ocean is the central ecosystem of our planet.
Where and When:
Combined with Trec in the City activity

Nexus Island

Target: ages 12 - 99
What: An interactive workshop, game - based, on Planet Helth. Just like a scientist you will take part to an expedition: sampling organisms, facing problems and find solutions will engage you. Can you save the Island? 
Where and When:
Città della Scienza, May 5, 09:00 - 17:00

Science on Tour – Science talks for and with the public

Target: general public, university students, ages 18+
What: Join us for a fun, informal, and accessible evening during which scientists from across Europe come together to discuss with you! A funny evening during which TREC - and science in general - gets discussed with the public. Scientists, also from SZN, take ‘the stage’ and present the audience with several topics related to marine world and Trec-TARA Expedition.
Where: The Spark Cafè in Naples (Piazza Bovio, 33).
When: May 10 at 18:00

Mobile Lab Guided Tours – Taking a look inside TREC’s mobile labs

Target: ages 12 - 99
What: Interactive guided tour that offers participants the opportunity to directly explore the Advanced Mobile Lab. During the tour, participants will be shown the advanced mobile services and get the chance to see up close a few mini-experiments based on the equipment in the mobile lab. Small interactive experiences will be done together with the public to explain this high-end technology in a relatable way.
Where: AML placed next to SZN main building.
When: May 11, from 15:00 to 20:00

TARA guided tours - Taking a look close to TARA Schooner

Target: ages 6 - 99
What: Interactive guided tour that offers participants the opportunity to directly explore the Schooner.
Where: Molo San Vincenzo (Marina Militare)
WhenMay 11, from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 20:00

Observing the invisible inhabitants of the Ocean – Hands on, workshop with portable microscope

Target: ages 8 - 99
What: An experience to discover a world essential to life on Earth, the marine microbiome, observing local sea water samples with the Curiosity microscope and understanding the importance of marine microbiome and why it must be studied to better protect it.
Where: Molo San Vincenzo (Marina Militare) or indoor in Marina Militare conference room.
When: May 11, from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 20:00

Plastic at Sea, the solutions are on land – Game-based activity on plastic pollution

Target: ages 8 - 99
What: A workshop to go back to the source of plastic pollution, and associated chemical pollutants, and find solutions upstream. Observe plastic in its different forms and deconstruct preconceived ideas and finally find out the extent of your power to make a difference.
Where: Molo San Vincenzo (Marina Militare)
WhenMay 11, from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 20:00

PlanktoQuest – VR experience focused on plankton

Target: ages 8 - 99
What: Plankton as you've never seen it: dive into an augmented reality experience that will allow you to 'touch' the invisible! PlanktoQuest is a virtual reality animation that make the user to explore and manipulate the marine plankton with their hands. The user can stretch, dissect, feed different plankton as well as entering inside them with just his hands and a headset (no computer, no controllers).
Where: Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn 
When: May 11 - 12 from 09:00 to 16:30


Transparent EMBRC logo EMBL logo colour  20230131 BIOcean5D Logo RGB  ENG Logotype avec signature Charte graphique 2023 FTO V1 NBFC

LabA new parasite species for science has been described from Munda round ray (Urotrygon munda) from the Pacific coast of the Costa Rica, making it the first known parasite from this rare ray. The new species, Anaporrhutum mundae (Trematoda) has been discovered by a team of Italian (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn) and Costa Rican scientists (Universidad de Costa Rica and Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura) led by Dr. Mario Santoro and Dr. Alberto Solano-Barquero. The study has been published in the Journal of Helminthology (https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022149X2400018X) in the frame of an ambitious international project that aims to document marine fish parasite diversity in the Costa Rican waters. Costa Rica has impressive levels of marine biodiversity, including numerous endemic taxa. Dr. Mario Santoro ensures that ongoing research and exploration in this country's marine ecosystems will uncover many more ever seen “surprises” within the local fish fauna. 


A team from the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, led by researcher Ulisse Cardini from the Department of Integrative Marine Ecology, has published a new scientific study exploring the role of symbioses between marine plants and their microscopic partners, and how ocean acidification affects their nutrition

Posidonia CardiniSeagrass beds are biodiversity-rich ecosystems, similar to underwater gardens, that are vital to the life of the oceans and marine creatures. However, they are now facing a growing threat: ocean acidification. This is caused by the excessive dissolution of carbon dioxide, which is mainly produced by human activities.

To better understand the impact of such acidification on the nutrition of marine plants, an innovative study has focused on the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica and the role of its microscopic symbionts. Scientists used carbon dioxide emissions from volcanic activity near the island of Ischia, Italy, to study this plant and its symbionts under acidic conditions not far from those predicted for the future of the oceans.

Dr Ulisse Cardini from the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn at the Genoa Marine Centre led this important work in collaboration with researchers from the University of Bremen in Germany, the Institute for Biological Resources and Marine Biotechnology - CNR Ancona, the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and the University of Southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

The researchers made a surprising discovery: despite the rising acidity levels, Posidonia meadows demonstrate remarkable resilience in the nitrogen cycle, which is crucial for their growth. The leaves of these seagrasses have become highly effective powerhouses for nitrogen transformation, involving a wide range of symbiotic microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

Even more interesting, comments Dr Ulisse Cardini, was the observation that, despite the increasing acidity, these microorganisms not only remain active but also accelerate many crucial processes. Marine plants benefit from the increase in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and sugar production, while the microorganisms promote protein synthesis through increased nitrogen acquisition.

However, Dr Cardini further explains, this nutritional advantage is not without risk, as it can increase the risk of predation by herbivores and other organisms. This delicate balance highlights the importance of studying the processes that regulate the health and resilience of marine ecosystems in detail.

In conclusion, this study offers valuable insights into how marine plants and their microbes adapt to ocean acidification. It highlights the significance of safeguarding these ecosystems, which are vital for mitigating climate change and conserving ocean life for future generations.

Team Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn
Ulisse Cardini (EMI), Johanna Berlinghof (EMI e Università di Brema), Luis Montilla (EMI), Friederike Peiffer (EMI), Ugo Marzocchi (EMI e Università di Aarhus), Francesca Margiotta (RIMAR), Maria Abagnale (RIMAR)

Original publication
Johanna Berlinghof, Luis M. Montilla, Friederike Peiffer, Grazia M. Quero, Ugo Marzocchi, Travis B. Meador, Francesca Margiotta, Maria Abagnale, Christian Wild & Ulisse Cardini. Accelerated nitrogen cycling on Mediterranean seagrass leaves at volcanic CO2 vents. Communications Biology 7, 341 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-024-06011-0

Project funding
This research was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship co-funded by the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (SZN) and the University of Bremen (to J.B. and F.P.), a Ph.D. fellowship funded by the Open University – SZN Ph.D. Program (to L.M.M.), and a SZN postdoctoral fellowship (to U.M.). U.C. was partially supported by the Italian PRIN 2022 project ENGAGE (grant n. 20223R4FJK) and PRIN 2022 PNRR project BORIS (grant n. P2022R739J), funded by the European Union – Next Generation EU.

NEW DEADLINE - January 15, 2024



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13th Advanced Phytoplankton Course - APC13

Identification, Taxonomy, Systematics

Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy, 6-26 October 2024

For More Information

Call for PhD students n. 3/2023 (new Publishing)

N. 1 Ph.D. fellowship is available to carry out interdisciplinary training in Biological Sciences at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples (Italy).
Applications are invited from suitably qualified postgraduate candidates.


The closing date for applications is November 6th 2023 h. 12.00

Published on october 20, 2023

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