Dr. Noa Shenkar
Ph.D.: Tel Aviv University, 2008
Phone: 972-(0)3-6408655
E-mail: shenkarn@post.tau.ac.il
Room#: Sherman 327,328
Member's portrait
  Personal Information
  Research Interests
  Full Publications
  Students and Lab Members
  In the media
  External links

Personal Information
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





Title of Master’s thesis: Bleaching dynamics of the coral Oculina patagonica

Name of supervisor: Prof. Yossi Loya , Tel-Aviv University.

Title of doctoral dissertation: Ecological aspects of the ascidian community along the Israeli coasts .

Name of supervisor: Prof. Yossi Loya , 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

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

• 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

“ Ascidians are back in the limelight , with a good chance of staying there.” Pourquié (2001)

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

1. On the taxonomic level: the class Ascidiacea (ascidians, sea-squirts), and 2. 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.



Students and Lab Members

Laboratory technician

Lion Novak (AKA “The Marine Baker”)

Post-doctoral fellows

Dr. Gil Koplovitz, “The biodiversity of the class Ascidiacea in the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba)”


Ph.D. students

Mey-Tal Yaniv “Early detection of non-indigenous ascidians along the Mediterranean coasts of Israel”

Ya’arit Levitt “Diversity and spatial distribution of Caridea species along the coasts of Israel


M.Sc. students

Lilach Raichman “Ecological aspects of the invasive ascidian Microcosmus exasperatus ” graduated October 2014

Itai Granot (co-supervised with Dr. Yoni Belmaker) “Processes structuring the assembly of fouling communities”

Yaniv Shmuel “Ecology and reproduction of Halocynthia spinosa in the Red Sea”

Tal Gordon "Ecological aspects of the tropical ascidian Polycarpa cryptocarpa"

Yuval Jacobi (co-supervised with Dr. Gitai Yahel) "Ascidian filtration rates"

Tal Gordon “Biodiversity of the genus Polycarpa in the coral reefs of Eilat”


Shenkar lab
Fun day at the water park. From left to right: Itai, Mey-Tal, Lion, Noa, Gil, Ya’arit, Yaniv, Lilach

Lab affiliates  

Ido, Neta, Sivan and Dror Shenkar


2013, 2014 “The Invertebrates: Comparative Functional Biology”

2014 “Research Skills Course”

Full 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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.06.029

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

In the media

1. November 2014 Reuters article " New Suez Canal may speed invasion of species into Mediterranean"

2. November 2014 Channel 2 News " כתבה לקראת הסדנת פלישות ימיות"

3. October 2014 Ynet "פולשים מהים" האיצטלנים תפסו טרמפ לישראל"

4. March 2013 National Geographic Israel News

5. November 2012 “Haaretz” News

The Rise and Fall of a Coral-Reef Ascidian


Ascidiacea World Database


Ascidian news


Tunicata list


Dutch ascidian webpage with more links:


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