Dr Janina Brakel

Tropical algal pathologist

I am a marine ecologist focusing on host pathogen interaction and their relevance in marine ecosystems and the context of a growing seaweed aquaculture.

My research includes seaweeds and seagrasses, and their interaction with eukaryotic pathogens. I am also interested in process of domestication in seaweeds and its consequences.


Contact details:

My research interests are marine macrophytes (seaweeds and seagrasses) and their interaction with microorganisms, mainly pathogens. I have conducted research in seagrass pathology where I investigated influence of environmental factors on host – pathogen interaction. Currently, my work focusses on diverse species of red algae - some of these with relevance in seaweed aquaculture – and their associated pathogens.

I am further interested in the process of seaweed domestication. I coordinate a global sampling campaign to assess the genetic resources of the seaweed commodity Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (red algae) to support a sustainable tropical seaweed aquaculture. This work is realised in close coordination with colleagues from Malaysia, the Philippines and the Republic of Tanzania. 


Current research project

GlobalSeaweedSTAR. PDRA on the project. Funded by UKRI GCRF. Oct 2018 - Dec 2021

Peer-reviewed publications 

Badis, Y., Klochkova, T.A., Brakel, J., Arce, P., Ostrowski, M., Tringe, S.G., Kim, G.H. and Gachon, C.M., (2019). Hidden diversity in the oomycete genus Olpidiopsis is a potential hazard to red algal cultivation and conservation worldwide. European Journal of Phycology, pp.1-10

Saha M., Barboza F.R., Somerfield P.J., Al‐Janabi B., Beck M., Brakel J., Ito M., Pansch C., Nascimento‐Schulze J.C., Thor S.J., Weinberger F. (2019) Response of foundation macrophytes to near‐natural simulated marine heatwaves. Global change biology.

Brakel, J., Jakobsson-Thor, S., Bockelmann, A. C., & Reusch, T. B. (2019). Modulation of the Eelgrass–Labyrinthula zosterae Interaction Under Predicted Ocean Warming, Salinity Change and Light Limitation. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6.

Pansch, C., Scotti, M., Barboza, F. R., Al‐Janabi, B., Brakel, J., Briski, E., Björn Bucholz Franz, M., Ito, M., Paiva, F. and Saha, M. (2018). Heat waves and their significance for a temperate benthic community: A near‐natural experimental approach. Global change biology.

Jakobsson-Thor, S., Toth, G. B., Brakel, J., Bockelmann, A. C., & Pavia, H. (2018). Seagrass wasting disease varies with salinity and depth in natural Zostera marina populations. MEPS, 587, 105-115.

Brakel, J. Reusch, T.B.H. Bockelmann, A.C. (2017) Moderate virulence caused by the protist Labyrinthula zosterae in ecosystem foundation species Zostera marina under nutrient limitation. MEPS 571:97–108.

Olsen, J. L., P. Rouzé, B. Verhelst, Y.-C. Lin, T. Bayer, J. Collen, E. Dattolo, E. De Paoli, S. Dittami, F. Maumus, G. Michel, A. Kersting, C. Lauritano, R. Lohaus, M. Töpel, T. Tonon, K. Vanneste, M. Amirebrahimi, J. Brakel, C. Boström, M. Chovatia, J. Grimwood, J. W. Jenkins, A. Jueterbock, A. Mraz, W. T. Stam, H. Tice, E. Bornberg-Bauer, P. J. Green, G. A. Pearson, G. Procaccini, C. M. Duarte, J. Schmutz, T. B. H. Reusch and Y. Van de Peer (2016) The genome of the seagrass Zostera marina reveals angiosperm adaptation to the sea. Nature 530 (7590): 331-335.

Brakel, J., Werner, F. J., Tams, V., Reusch, T. B., & Bockelmann, A. C. (2014). Current European Labyrinthula zosterae are not virulent and modulate seagrass (Zostera marina) defense gene expression. PloS one, 9(4), e92448.

Employment history

Since 2018 PostDoctoral Research Associate in Tropical Algal Pathology. SAMS, Oban, Scotland

2017-17 Research Assistant. GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

2014-17 PhD student fellowship. GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

2013-14: Research Assistant. GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany



2017 PhD Christian Albrechts Universität Kiel and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Germany

2013 Master of Science 'Ecology'. Universität Bremen, Germany

2010 Bachelor of Science 'Biology'. Christian Albrechts Universität Kiel, Germany