Dr Pedro Murúa

        Pedro Morua on fieldwork taking photos of seaweed on his phone

Honorary Research Fellow

I am an aquaculture engineer, reformed in the direction of algal pathology.

I employ microscopy, molecular and culture approaches to diagnose new algal diseases and to describe novel defence mechanisms in brown and red algae. I use NGS/Omics to refine this knowledge towards a molecular level.

After four years at SAMS working on GENIALG and GlobalSeaweedSTAR projects, I returned to Chile as a lecturer in algal diseases at the Universidad Austral de Chile but retain close collaborations with colleagues and research at SAMS.

Contact details:

My research interests centre on various aspects of seaweed biology, lately mostly directed towards algal/pathogens interactions:

  • >Description of novel algal pathogens, which includes the characterization of life cycles, dissemination and infection strategies, nutrition and development.
  • >Epidemiological aspects in brown algal populations, using brown algal endophytes-kelps as model pathosystems.
  • >Immunity of brown/red algae, starting from pathogen recognition to neutralization. In this sense, lately I have been dissecting a plethora of autophagy processes used by both host and pathogen, which can subverted towards the benefit of the opposite counterpart.

As a phycopathology less-related matter, I often collaborate with Chilean phycologists in areas related to kelp conservation biology, ecology and aquaculture.


Current research projects

I am a Post Doctoral Research Assistant on the following projects:



Peer-reviewed publications

Badis, Y., Klochkova, T.A., Strittmatter, M., Garvetto, A., Murúa, P., Sanderson, J.C., Kim, G.H. and Gachon, C.M., 2018. Novel species of the oomycete Olpidiopsis potentially threaten European red algal cultivation. Journal of Applied Phycology, pp.1-12.

FAO (Authors: Ferdouse F, Løvstad Holdt S, Smith R, Murúa P, Yang Z) (2018) The global status of seaweed production, trade and utilization. FAO Globefish Research Programme Vol 124. Rome. 120 pages. Licence CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

Müller DG, Murúa P & Westermeier R. 2018. Reproductive strategies of Lessonia berteroana (Laminariales, Phaeophyceae) gametophytes from Chile: Apogamy, parthenogenesis and cross-fertility with L. spicata. Journal of Applied Phycology https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-018-1625-9

Murúa P, Küpper FC, Muñoz LA, Bernard M, Peters AF. 2018. Microspongium alariae in Alaria esculenta: a widely-distributed non-parasitic brown algal endophyte that shows cell modifications within its host. Botanica Marina (accepted).

Bernard M, Strittmatter M, Murúa P, Heesch S, Cho GY, Leblanc C, Peters AF. 2018. Diversity, biogeography and host specificity of kelp endophytes with a focus on the genera Laminarionema and Laminariocolax (Ectocarpales, Phaeophyceae). European Journal of Phycology (accepted).

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Manoli G, Müller DG. 2018. Evaluation of kelp harvest strategies: recovery of Lessonia berteroana (Phaeophyceae, Laminariales) in Pan de Azucar, Atacama, Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology (in press).

Murúa P, Goecke F, Westermeier R, van West P, Küpper FC, Neuhauser S. 2017. Maullinia braseltonii sp. nov. (Rhizaria, Phytomyxea, Phagomyxida): A cyst-forming parasite of the bull kelp Durvillaea spp. (Stramenopila, Phaeophyceae, Fucales). Protist 168: 468–480.

Murúa P, Müller DG, Patiño DJ, Westermeier R. 2017. Giant kelp vegetative propagation: Adventitious holdfast elements rejuvenate senescent individuals of the Macrocystis pyrifera ‘integrifolia’ ecomorph. Journal of Phycology 53, 230–234.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Müller DG. 2017. Population biology and long-term mariculture studies in the brown alga Lessonia trabeculata in Atacama, Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology 29: 2267–2275.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L, Müller DG. 2016. Holdfast fragmentation of Macrocystis pyrifera (integrifolia morph) and Lessonia berteroana in Atacama (Chile): a novel approach for kelp bed restoration. Journal of Applied Phycology 28: 2969–2977.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L, Atero C, Müller DG. 2014. Repopulation techniques for Macrocystis integrifolia (Phaeophyceae: Laminariales) in Atacama, Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology 26: 511–518.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L, Müller DG. 2014. Giant kelp (Macrocystis) fishery in Atacama (Northern Chile): biological basis for management of the integrifolia morph. Journal of Applied Phycology 26, 1071–1079.

Murúa P, Westermeier R, Patiño DJ, Müller DG. 2013. Culture studies on early development of Lessonia trabeculata (Phaeophyceae, Laminariales): Seasonality and acclimation to light and temperature. Phycological Research 61: 145–153.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L, Ruiz A, Atero C, Müller DG. 2013. Utilization of holdfast fragments for vegetative propagation of Macrocystis integrifolia in Atacama, Northern Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology 25.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L, Ruiz A, Müller DG. 2012. Variations of chemical composition and energy content in natural and genetically defined cultivars of Macrocystis from Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology 24.

Westermeier R, Patiño DJ, Murúa P, Quintanilla JC, Correa JA, Buschmann AH, Barros I. 2012. A pilot-scale study of the vegetative propagation and suspended cultivation of the carrageenophyte alga Gigartina skottsbergii in southern Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology 24: 11–20.

Westermeier R, Patiño DJ, Murúa P, Müller DG. 2011. Macrocystis mariculture in Chile: Growth performance of heterosis genotype constructs under field conditions. Journal of Applied Phycology 23: 819–825.


Other publications: reports, book, book chapters, conference papers

Murúa P 2018. Molecular and cell biology of novel brown algal pathosystems. PhD thesis in Biological Sciences. University of Aberdeen. 270 p. (Accepted with minor corrections).

Murúa P 2017. Seaweed processing in Chile, with emphasis on human consumption products. Document prepared for FAO/GLOBEFISH. 45 p.

Westermeier R, Murúa P, Patiño DJ, Muñoz L Ruiz A, Atero C. 2012. Handbook of Macrocystis integrifolia restoration in Atacama, Chile (In Spanish). Ediciones Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile. ISBN: 978-956-7105-74-8

Employment history

Since 2020 Lecturer in Algal Diseases, Universidad Austral de Chile

2018-20 PDRA in Molecular Algal Pathology. SAMS (UK)

2014-18 PhD Student. University of Aberdeen (UK)

2011-14 Research Assistant. Instituto de Acuicultura, UACh (Chile)



2018 PhD Biological Sciences. University of Aberdeen (UK)

2010 BSc (Eng) Aquaculture. Universidad Austral de Chile (Chile)