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Giulia Puntin

Giulia Puntin, Ph.D. student

Marine Holobiomics Group
Department of Animal Ecology & Systematics
Justus Liebig University
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32 IFZ
D-35392 Giessen
Phone: +49 (0) 641 99-35727
Fax: +49 (0) 641 99-35709

Fields of interest/focus of work

Coral reefs provide invaluable ecosystem services such as coastal protection, fisheries support, and revenues from tourism. Sadly, the organisms that build their foundations, reef-building corals, are particularly susceptible to climate change and anthropogenic stressors putting their very survival at risk. To be effective, conservation efforts require a sound understanding of coral functioning. However, this is hindered by the difficult nature of corals: they are expensive to maintain in aquaria and exist as complex metaorganisms where the animal tightly associates with microscopic algae (aka Symbiodiniaceae), bacteria, and other microorganisms whose individual role and contribution is difficult to disentangle. In this context, (cnidarian) model organisms can accelerate the progress of coral research - similarly to how mice and fruit flies helped us understand our own functioning.



My PhD project focuses on testing the suitability of the reef-building coral Galaxea fascicularis as model organism to study coral symbiosis. I use ecophysiological experimental approaches and genomic tools to further characterize this species and its niche in the broader framework of cnidarian model organism research.

Scientific career

  • since December 2018: Ph.D. student at Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany
  • MSc Thesis: "Use of stable isotopes to investigate nutrient dynamics in the zooxanthellate jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana", the University of Hong Kong
  • 2016-2018: Erasmus Mundus Master in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO), University of Florence (Italy), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (Malaysia), Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • 2010-2013: BSc in Biology, University of Trieste, Italy

Peer-reviewed articles
  • Puntin, G.; Sweet, M.; Fraune, S.; Medina, M.; Sharp, K.; Weis, V.M.; Ziegler, M. (2022). Harnessing the Power of Model Organisms To Unravel Microbial Functions in the Coral Holobiont. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 0, e00053-00022.
  • Röthig*, T., Puntin*, G., Wong, J.C.Y., Burian, A., McLeod, W., Baker, D.M. (2021). Holobiont nitrogen control and its potential for eutrophication resistance in an obligate photosymbiotic jellyfish. Microbiome. DOI: 10.1186/s40168-021-01075-0

     *authors contributed equally

Conference contributions

  • Puntin, G., Martins, C.P.P., Wilke, T., Ziegler, M. (2019). Light enhanced calcification in bleached corals: investigating the direct and indirect role of light. International Conference for YOUNG Marine Researchers (ICYMARE), Bremen, Germany, Oral presentation.
  • Puntin, G., Engelhardt, K.E., Wilke, T., Ziegler, M. (2020). The reef-building coral Galaxea fascicularis: a suitable species for long-term bleached maintenance and experimental manipulation. International Conference on Marine Science: tropical ocean for the future, Colombia (online), Oral presentation.
  • Puntin, G., Röthig, T., Jane C.Y. Wong, J.C.Y., Baker, D.M., Sweet, M., Ziegler, M. (2021). Establishing Galaxea fascicularis as a new coral model system. ICRS 2020 - 14th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bremen (online), Germany, Oral presenation.