Prof. Dr.

Justyna Wolinska

+49(30) 64 181 686
+49(30) 64 181 682

Müggelseedamm 301, 12587 Berlin


I study evolutionary and ecological processes mediated by parasitism in aquatic ecosystems. Parasites are ubiquitous and impose strong selection on their hosts to evolve resistance, while themselves being under strong selection to undermine host defenses. My research group aims to develop a better understanding of the interface between such host-parasite co-evolution and major ecological processes in the face of global environmental change.



für Aquatische Evolutionäre Ökologie an der Freien Universität Berlin, Fachbereich für Biologie, Chemie, Pharmazie, Institut für Biologie


Scientific education

  • 2012: Habilitation (Evolutionary Ecology), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), Germany
  • 2006: PhD (Evolutionary Ecology), Eawag/ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2001: MSc (Environmental Protection), Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
  • 1999: BSc (Environmental Protection), Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Professional experience

  • Since 2015: Professor for Aquatic Evolutionary Ecology, Freie Universität Berlin (FU), Germany
  • Since 2014: Research Group Leader, IGB Berlin, Germany
  • 2008-2014: Assistant Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), Germany
  • 2006-2008: Postdoc Research Fellow, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

Full publication list





Thijs Frenken; Elisabet Alacid; Stella A. Berger; Elizabeth C. Bournr; Melanie Gerphagnon; Hans-Peter Grossart; Alena S. Gsell; Bas W. Ibelings; Maiko Kagami; Frithjof C. Küpper; Peter M. Letcher; Adeline Loyau; Takeshi Miki; Jens C. Nejstgaard; Serena Rasconi; Albert Rene; Thomas Rohrlack; Keilor Rojas-Jimenez; Dirk S. Schmeller; Bettina Scholz; Kensuke Seto; Telesphore Sime-Ngando; Assaf Sukenik; Dedmer B. van de Waal; Silke van den Wyngaert; Ellen Van Donk; Justyna Wolinska; Christian Wurzbacher; Ramsy Agha

Integrating chytrid fungal parasites into plankton ecology: research gaps and needs

Environmental Microbiology. - 19(2017)10, S. 3802-3822




Grants, Academic Service, Teaching


Scientific grants (as PI)

  • 2018-2021 (3 years): DFG (German-Israeli collaboration): “The evolution of virulence under conditions of frequent multiple infections”.
  • 2017-2020 (3 years): DFG & SNF (German-Swiss collaboration): “Host-parasite interactions in hybridizing Daphnia, from correlations to experiments”.
  • 2013-2016 (3 years): DFG (proposal integrated within a Priority Program: Host-parasite coevolution; rapid reciprocal adaptation and its genetic basis): “Red Queen dynamics in Daphnia; revealing evolutionary change in a parasite population”.
  • 2012-2015 (3 years): DFG & SNF (German-Swiss collaboration): “Host-parasites interactions in Daphnia: the role of variable environments”.
  • 2012-2015 (3 years): DFG (proposal integrated within a Research Unit: Natural selection in structured populations): “The role of hybridization in the colonization of newly opened habitats”.
  • 2010-2013 (3 years): DFG “Facing multiple enemies: trade-offs between adaptive responses to predators and parasites in the context of inducible defences”.
  • 2010-2013 (3 years): DFG (proposal integrated within a Priority Program: Host-parasite coevolution; rapid reciprocal adaptation and its genetic basis): “Red Queen dynamics in Daphnia: the role of variable environments. Part 2”.
  • 2009-2010 (1 year): DFG “Red Queen dynamics in Daphnia: the role of variable environments. Part 1”.

Scientific grants (as Host)

Other grants

(I helped to write and / or defend these proposals in front of the funding committee)

Academic Service

  • Editorial Board: Journal of Evolutionary Biology (2010-2013 and 2015-present); BMC Evolutionary Biology (2015-present)
  • Reviewer for Scientific Journals: Evolution, Evolution Letters, Ecology, Am Nat, Proc R Soc B, Mol Ecol, Funct Ecol, Biol Lett, BMC Biology, Mol Biol Evol, Int J Parasitol, J Anim Ecol, Oecologia, Oikos, Biol Invasions, FEMS Microbiol Ecol, Freshw Biol, PLoS ONE, Evol Ecol, Ecol Res, Parasitology, Dis Aquat Org, J Eukaryot Microbiol, Aquat Biol, Aquat Ecol, Aquat Sci, Hydrobiologia, Zoology, Acta Zool Acad Sci Hung, Sensors, Trop Biomed
  • Reviewer for Funding Agencies: National Science Foundations (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Poland and USA), Humboldt Foundation (Germany), National Geographic Society (USA), Graduate Women in Science (USA)

Teaching at IGB

Experimental and Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology (MSc level) – lecture, seminar and practical classes

Biotic Interactions in a Changing World (MSc level) – lecture and seminar



June - Official start of our new project: "Parasite evolution in response to climate warming", jointly financed by Polish National Science Centre and German Research Foundation (collaboration with Slawek Cerbin from AMU Poznan). Looking for a new PhD student! Check here. Deadline: 30.06.2020

June - Our experimental paper got published in Limnology and Oceanography: We showed that parasitic fungi keep harmful blue-green algae in check. See also IGB press release.

June - We invited Sinead Collins (The University of Edinburgh) for GB-colloquium (online). Sinead talked about how to link environmental quality and trait diversity in primary producers. But she also emphasized that Covid-19 crisis affects some scientists (e.g. minorities, women, and early career scientists) more than others. We need to act to protect diversity in science!

May - Justyna is teaching "Biotic Interactions in a Changing World" course at the FU. It is about how biotic interactions are affected by global stressors (e.g. habitat fragmentation, climate warming, novel pollutants).

April - Our group invited January Weiner (Berlin Institute of Health, BIH), who gives IGB-colloquium (via zoom). Jaunary talked about the misuse of statistics and reproducibility crisis. Take home message: "Publish your methods" & "Data analyses should not end with calculation of p-values" (if at all p-values were useful..).

April - Marcin gives Department colloquium (via zoom): "Fate of Daphnia under Global Warming". Marcin compared Daphnia communities inhabiting heated lakes and non-heated (control) lakes: altered ecosystems provide great opportunity to study adaptation to climate change.

March - The DFG-grant-proposal of Jürgen Strassert got funded! Jürgen will join our group in October 2020 to work on "The evolution of parasitism in phytoplankton-infecting Chytridiomycota". Jürgen, congratulations!!!

March - Justyna is teaching a three-week block course about how to do proper science. Students are introduced to experimental design theory and learn how to avoid common problems. They design, conduct, and analyze their own experiments. Extra challenge: the face-to-face classes needed to be converted (overnight) into an online course.

March - The facilities and labs of the institute are closed due to COVID-19 pandemic:( Everything is different from now on: just home office and maintenance of stock cultures.

March - Florent, Marcin and Justyna are attending 4th Evolutionary Ecology PhD Meeting in Wittenberg.

February - Florent and Ramsy teaching "R and RStudio" workshop prepared exclusively for our group.

January - Beng Kingsly Chuo begins his postdoc (funded by International IGB Fellowship Programme).

January - Louise Seemann starts her project (Bachelor thesis).

January - Ramsy is attending a two-week workshop on genomics (in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic).

January - Justyna and Marcin on a short sampling trip in Poland.


December - Lab Get Together: Xmas dinner at Justyna's place. Exchanging small self-made(!) gifts such as crafts, cookies, poems or self-composed songs.

December - Ramsy gives an invited talk at the University of Oldenburg.

December - Networking Evening at the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy (FU Berlin). Our group presents itself with a poster; check here.

November - Marcin Dziuba starts his 6-month fellowship (climate warming and host-parasite interactions) funded by National Science Center in Poland.

November - Marc Wagner starts his Master thesis in our group (Quantification of the infection of phytoplankton using image analysis algorithms).

October - Justyna on a sampling trip in Poland (in collaboration with the group of Slawek Cerbin).

October - Two students joining our group: Jessica Jarecki and Mellery Dundr (Bachelor theses on cyanobacteria-chytrid system) - warm welcome!

September - Press release on our recent work: Fungicides at environmentally relevant concentrations can inhabit natural fungal epidemics (and this might therefore promote algal blooms). Note: 1st author is MSc student (Bruno).

September - Ramsy gives an invited talk at the Annual Meeting of the British Mycological Society (Aberdeen, Scotland).

September - Ramsy gives a conference talk at SAME16 (16th Symposium of Aquatic Microbial Ecology, in Potsdam): "Chytrid fungal parasitism at the base of pelagic food webs: Direct and indirect effects on trophic transfer".

August - Justyna attends ESEB conference in Turku, Finland. She speaks about "Disease spread under global warming conditions: does including evolution change our predictions?". There is one additional presentation from our group: Marcin Dziuba (former DAAD fellow) gives the following talk: "Expanding thermal breadth facilitates adaptation of Daphnia to raising temperature".

August - Our new paper is out! The SNP-based genotyping panel enables to study the genetic structure of past Daphnia populations from common formaldehyde-preserved collections and from old dormant eggs.

July - Ramsy gives invited talk at FU Berlin: “Integrating fungal parasitism into plankton ecology and ecosystem functioning". Take home message: Parasites matter!

July - Our review is featured on cover page of the July issue of Trends in Parasitology! Otherwise, IGB published press release about our article.

June - Our review got published in Trends in Parasitology journal: We outline seven general biological concepts to control zoosporic diseases and discuss some of the research required to successfully apply these biological control strategies in the future. Check "Tell me why" by Thijs (lead author). Our article has been selected  to be a part of the most recent special collection of reviews on conservation! Check here.

May - Afternoon get-together: hiking to Müggelturm.

May - Charlotte Schampera starts her Master's project on the effect of nanoplastic pollution on the spread of disease in aquatic environments.

May - Justyna went to Tel Aviv (sampling trip and department seminar at Tel Aviv University).

May - The work of our former MSc student got published! Bruno´s experiment shows that fungicides at environmentally relevant concentrations inhibit chytrid infection of cyanobacteria and might therefore promote toxic blooms.

April - Florent is sampling Daphnia in Israel (collaboration with Frida Ben-Ami, Tel Aviv University).

April - Thijs is leaving to Canada (posdoc position at the University of Windsor); your stay was much too short:( Team good-bye dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant.

March - Florent and Justyna are attending 3rd Evolutionary Ecology PhD meeting in Bayreuth. Florent's presentation: "Temperature and host diet jointly influence the spread and intensity of disease" - third best talk; congratulations!

March - Barbara Pietrzak (University of Warsaw, PL) is visiting our lab; her IGB-seminar is divided into two parts, related to her scientific and public engagement: "(1) Living long in the dangerous world; and (2) Is it time for scientists to make their voice in the public debate?"

March - Justyna is teaching a three-week block course about how to do proper science. Students are introduced to experimental design theory and learn how to avoid common problems. They design, conduct, and analyze their own experiments.

March - Ramsy starts with us his DFG-funded, three-year project: Integrating fungal parasites into plankton ecology. Warm welcome!

February - Justyna's field study in collaboration with Fudan University (CN) got just published! It higlights the importance of hybridization in expansion of species gene pools.

February - we are hosting Jürgen Strassert (Uppsala University, SE). He gives the IGB-seminar about "A phylogenomic approach to resolve the eukaryotic tree of life".

February - Kayla King (University of Oxford, UK) is visiting our group. She talks at the FU-seminar series about “Killers and protectors: Rapid evolution across the parasite mutualist continuum”.

January - Melanie and Ramsy's experimental study on parasites upgrading their host's biochemical composition got published!

January - together with our Chinese and Czech collaborators we published a story about the expansion of the Daphnia pulex complex in the Eastern Palearctic.


December - Yament is leaving to Switzerland (postdoc position in Eawag); good luck! Team good-bye dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

December - Yameng's story got published: She generated a transcriptomic dataset from infected (and uninfected) Daphnia and found that the parasite suppresses immune responses in the host.

December - Florent gives a presentation during the annual IGB Science Day: "Making Science Fun: memes, drawings and parasitology". He is such a showman; he made us laugh many times!

November - we are hosting Amanda Kyle Gibson (University of Virginia, USA). She gives the IGB-seminar on "Common clones: parasite adaptation in heterogeneous host populations".

November - New Master student, Nesar Ghadernezhad, starts project on the effect of nanoplastic pollution on Daphnia fitness, in collaboration with Abel de Souza Machado.

November - Lab Halloween Party at Justyna's place.

October - Florent and Justyna on a sampling trip in Czech Republic (in collaboration with Adam Petrusek).

October - Thijs Frenken joins our group for five months; his short project is funded by International IGB Fellowship Programme.

September - Justyna gives a keynote lecture at the 6th Polish Evolutionary Conference in Warsaw, PL.

September - Ramsy attends the Third Plankton Chytridiomycosis Workshop, in Wageningen, NL.

September - Another successful collaboration with our Chinese colleagues! Here, we compared European and Chinese Daphnia galeata, on both the mitochondrial and nuclear level.

August - Florent represents our group on the ESEB congress on Evolutionary Biology (Montpellier, FR).

July - Our modeling-study got published! We analyse the conditions that promote the establishment of Daphnia hybrids.

July - Justyna gives a talk at the Seminar Series in Behaviour & Evolution, Bielefeld University (DE).

June - We went bowling; Yile and Bruno were winning everything!

June - Celebration of women in science: Soapbox Science in Berlin - Maja is one of the speakers.

June - The experimental study about temperature modulating interactions between pollution and disease.just got published. This is a collaboration with Portuguese scientists.

June - Falk Hillmann (The Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute, HKI, DE) is visiting our lab. He gives IGB-seminar about “Interaction of fungi with predatory amoeba - an environmental training ground for pathogens?”.

May - Our experimental evolution assay showing that parasite adaptation is hampered by host diversity got published. Congratulations to Ramsy and Alina (Ramsy's MSc student). See press release.

April - Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo (The Institute of Evolutionary Biology, IBE, Barcelona, ES) is visiting our lab. He talks at the FU-seminar series about "The origin of multicellular animals: A perspective from their closest unicellular relatives".

March - Bruno Ortiz-Canavate Ozeki joints our group to conduct his MSc project; he is Erasmus Student from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

March - Florent attends PhD Student Meeting in Animal Evolutionary Biology in Czech Republic.

February - Ramsy's experimental paper higlighting the importance of combining multiple parasite traits to understand the mechanisms of infection is out! 

February - Frida Ben-Ami (Tel Aviv University, IL) is visiting our lab; kick-off meeting for Florent's PhD project. She speaks at the IGB-seminar: "Host age effects in host-parasite interactions: Epidemiological, ecological and evolutionary implications".

January - Slawek Cerbin (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, PL) is visiting our lab. We are collaborating on "Daphnia facing the global climate change" project. He gives IGB-seminar: "Zooplankton facing the global climate change: Old threats in the future of rising temperatures".

January - Florent Manzi starts his PhD: "The evolution of virulence under conditions of frequent multiple infections". This is a collaborative project with a group of Frida Ben-Ami, from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

January - Maja Grubisic joints us for one year, to study the potential effects of artificial light at night on benthic primary producers (DRS HONORS fellowship).


December - It feels like a Xmas present:) - our long-term field study is finally out, published in Evolution. We analysed genotype dynamics in a Daphnia population sampled across 13 years (over 240 time points). We found that periods of higher infection are correlated with higher genotype turnover in the host population. Outside of epidemics, turnover of host genotypes is slowed down. Overall, our study shows that parasites are important for maintenance of host genetic diversity. See a commentary about our manuscript and IGB-news section.

December - Justyna is visiting lab of Slawek Cerbin, at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan (PL). She gives a talk at the department seminar series.

December - Manja defended her PhD thesis at the FU: "Community and population dynamics in lakes under global change". Congratulations!

November - Our experimental study about Daphnia reactions to microplastics got published (collaboration with the group of Christian Laforsch from the University of Bayreuth, DE).

November - Adam Petrusek (Charles University of Prague, CZ) is visiting our lab.

October - Our experiment showing how fungicide contamination affects the severity of disease got published (collaboration with Portuguese scientists).

October - Yile Tao starts his PhD: "Role of parasitic chytrids in regulating cyanobacterial blooms". Yile's PhD is funded by FUB-CSC Programm. Yile, warm welcome!

September - Manja, Yameng and Justyna present their work at the Cladocera Conference in Kulmbach (DE).

September - Melanie and Ramsy give talks at SAME15 (15th Symposium on Aquatic Microbial Ecology) in Zagreb (HR).

September - Justyna attends ESEB Congress in Groningen (NL). She is co-organizing a symposium on Evolutionary Implications of Hybridization.

July - Melanie is going back to France, after having stayed one year with us (IGB Fellowship Programme); Melanie, you will be missed!

June - Opinion paper of Ramsy et al. (29 co-authors, 15 countries!) is out; congratulations!! "Integrating chytrid fungal parasites into plankton ecology. Research gaps and needs" - we provide a perspective view on possible directions of future research about chytrids parasitizing phytoplankton.

June - Adam Petrusek (Charles University, Prague, CZ) is visiting our lab. He gives IGB-seminar about: "Stories from stream beds: what does diversity of epigean amphipods along the Carpathian Arc reveal about ancient landscapes and glacial refugia?".

May - Yameng and Justyna attend 'Introduction to evolutionary biology for infection biologists' workshop (organized by IZW). Justyna teaches about host-parasites coevolution and evolution of virulence.

May - Justyna attends "I scientist" conference in Berlin (on gender, career paths and networking). The conference's mission is to to increase visibility of female role models and  raise awareness of unconscious biases. During the Networking Breakfast, she serves as an expert on how to combine science and family.

May - Tanya (Tatiana Semanova) is leaving for the US (postdoc position at the University of Kansas). We all wish you good luck!

March - Manja, Ramsy and Justyna attend "Conflict and cooperation – bridging evolution, ecology and immunology" meeting in Bautzen, Germany. Manja and Ramsy give talks.

February - Manja presents her work at the "Young Natural History Scientists' Meeting" in France, Paris.

February - fantastic news: our grant proposal ("The evolution of virulence under conditions of frequent multiple infections", submitted together with Frida Ben-Ami from Tel Aviv University) got funded by the DFG. This project will start in January 2018.

February - experimental study showing that environmentally relevant concentrations of fungicides suppress infection in a Daphnia-Metschnikowia system got published.

January - kick-off meeting for "Host-parasite interactions in hybridizing Daphnia" project. Place: Eawag, Dübendorf, Switzerland. Lab-Attendees: Yameng, Anurag and Justyna.

January - kick-off meeting for "DNA-metabarcoding of plankton communities" project. Place: Villa Ehrlich, Berlin. Lab-Attendees: Tanya, Uschi, Elisabeth and Justyna.

January - Dominik Martin-Creuzburg (University of Konstanz) is visiting our lab. We are collaborating with him on the following project: “Chytrid: an overlooked transfer agent of matter and energy in aquatic food webs”. He gives IGB-seminar talk: "Essential lipids in aquatic food webs: requirements and eco-physiological constraints".

January - welcoming a new lab member: Tatiana Semanova, Tanya (postdoc); the launch of a new project: "DNA-metabarcoding of plankton communities".

January - freshly published: Manja's experimental test of the impact of a sudden increase in humic DOC on Daphnia: from cellular to population responses.

January - welcoming Yaming Lu (postdoc); the launch of a new project: "Host-parasite interactions in hybridizing Daphnia - from correlations to experiments".

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