Tintinnid ciliateEcology and Evolution of Planktonic Ciliates

Ciliates are important links between smaller microbes (other protists, bacteria) and bigger plankton (crustacean and fish larvae), thus helping sustain marine food webs. Prey, predators, and water conditions (temperature, pH, oxygenation, etc.) determine where and when ciliates thrive. Quantifying ciliate diversity and distribution informs us about plankton trophic interactions and the impact of environmental changes on aquatic ecosystems.

My research began at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I received a Ph.D. degree in Biological Sciences. Since 2011, I have worked in cooperation with the Microzooplankton Lab at the UConn Department of Marine Sciences. I combine high-throughput DNA sequencing, bioinformatics and microscopy of field-collected and cultured ciliates to study: Genotype – Phenotype Relationships and Distributions in the Environment



National Science Foundation (2019-2022). Collaborative Research: Combining single-cell and community ‘omics’ to test hypotheses about diversity and function of planktonic ciliates (co-PI ).

UConn Scholarship Facilitation Fund (2019-2020). Hypoxia effects on planktonic grazers and decomposers (PI).



Susan Smith, Department of Marine Sciences. PhD co-Major Advisor.

Undergrads! If you are interested in working with me, please email me at luciana.santoferrara@uconn.edu