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Dr. S. (Susanne) Wilken

Associate Professor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology
Faculty of Science
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
  • Room number: C4.224
Postal address
  • Postbus 94240
    1090 GE Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    Microbes rule...

    Aquatic microbes shaped the conditions for life on earth as we know it! With oceans and lakes changing due to anthropogenic activities, understanding the complex microbial interaction networks that drive biogeochemical cycles is a prerequisite for predicting what the future might bring. My work focusses on eukaryotic microbes, their interactions, and strategies of resource acquisition.


    Half 'plant' - half 'animal'

    I am particularly fascinated by organisms that combine a ‘plant-like’ with an ‘animal-like’ lifestyle. By both photosynthesizing and feeding on other microbes these mixotrophs assume the roles of both primary producers and consumers, raising many questions about their physiology as well as consequences for carbon and nutrient cycling.

  • CV


    2013 - PhD, University of Utrecht, Mixotrophs in aquatic ecosystems: linking physiology to food web dynamics

    2007 - MSc, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Impact of iron limitation on the mechanical stability and silica metabolism of diatoms


    Professional Experience

    2023 – present  Associate Professor, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

    2018 – 2023  Assistant Professor, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

    2015 – 2018  Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA, USA, and Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, ES

    2013 – 2015  Postdoctoral Researcher, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA, USA

    2013               Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Aquatic Ecology, Lund University, Lund, SE

    2008 – 2013  PhD Student, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Wageningen, NL

    2009 – 2010  Guest Researcher, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, NL

    2007               Junior Researcher; Leibniz-Institute of Marine Research (GEOMAR), Kiel, DE

    2005 – 2006  Student Research Assistant, Leibniz-Institute of Marine Research (GEOMAR), Kiel, DE and

                                  Alfred Wegener-Institute of Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, DE

  • Publications


    • Koppelle, S., Ivanković, M., Bengtsson, M. M., Preiler, C., Huisman, J., Brussaard, C. P. D., Engelmann, J. C., Ptáčník, R., & Wilken, S. (2024). Contrasting responses of different mixotrophic protists to light and nutrient availability. Limnology and Oceanography, 69(5), 1233-1246.




    • Schon, M. E., Zlatogursky, V. V., Singh, R. P., Poirier, C., Wilken, S., Mathur, V., Strassert, J. F. H., Pinhassi, J., Worden, A. Z., Keeling, P. J., Ettema, T. J. G., Wideman, J. G., & Burki, F. (2021). Single cell genomics reveals plastid-lacking Picozoa are close relatives of red algae. Nature Communications, 12, Article 6651. [details]




    • Guo, J., Wilken, S., Jimenez, V., Choi, C. J., Ansong, C., Dannebaum, R., Sudek, L., Milner, D. S., Bachy, C., Reistetter, E. N., Elrod, V. A., Klimov, D., Purvine, S. O., Wei, C-L., Kunde-Ramamoorthy, G., Richards, T. A., Goodenough, U., Smith, R. D., Callister, S. J., & Worden, A. Z. (2018). Specialized proteomic responses and an ancient photoprotection mechanism sustain marine green algal growth during phosphate limitation. Nature Microbiology, 3(7), 781-790. [details]
    • Orsi, W. D., Wilken, S., Del Campo, J., Heger, T., James, E., Richards, T. A., Keeling, P. J., Worden, A. Z., & Santoro, A. E. (2018). Identifying protist consumers of photosynthetic picoeukaryotes in the surface ocean using stable isotope probing. Environmental Microbiology, 20(2), 815-827.
    • Wilken, S., Soares, M., Urrutia-Cordero, P., Ratcovich, J., Ekvall, M. K., Van Donk, E., & Hansson, L. A. (2018). Primary producers or consumers? Increasing phytoplankton bacterivory along a gradient of lake warming and browning. Limnology and Oceanography, 63(S1), S142-S155.


    • Urrutia-Cordero, P., Ekvall, M. K., Ratcovich, J., Soares, M., Wilken, S., Zhang, H., & Hansson, L-A. (2017). Phytoplankton diversity loss along a gradient of future warming and brownification in freshwater mesocosms. Freshwater Biology, 62(11), 1869-1878.


    • Mitra, A., Flynn, K. J., Tillmann, U., Raven, J. A., Caron, D., Stoecker, D. K., Not, F., Hansen, P. J., Hallegraeff, G., Sanders, R., Wilken, S., McManus, G., Johnson, M., Pitta, P., Vage, S., Berge, T., Calbet, A., Thingstad, F., Jeong, H. J., ... Lundgren, V. (2016). Defining Planktonic Protist Functional Groups on Mechanisms for Energy and Nutrient Acquisition: Incorporation of Diverse Mixotrophic Strategies. PROTIST, 167(2), 106-120.
    • Orsi, W. D., Smith, J. M., Liu, S., Liu, Z., Sakamoto, C. M., Wilken, S., Poirier, C., Richards, T. A., Keeling, P. J., Worden, A. Z., & Santoro, A. E. (2016). Diverse, uncultivated bacteria and archaea underlying the cycling of dissolved protein in the ocean. ISME Journal, 10(9), 2158-2173.
    • Worden, A. Z., & Wilken, S. (2016). A plankton bloom shifts as the ocean warms. Science, 354(6310), 287-288.


    • Sassenhagen, I., Wilken, S., Godhe, A., & Rengefors, K. (2015). Phenotypic plasticity and differentiation in an invasive freshwater microalga. Harmful Algae, 41, 38-45.
    • Worden, A. Z., Follows, M. J., Giovannoni, S. J., Wilken, S., Zimmerman, A. E., & Keeling, P. J. (2015). Rethinking the marine carbon cycle: Factoring in the multifarious lifestyles of microbes. Science, 347(6223).


    • McRose, D., Guo, J., Monier, A., Sudek, S., Wilken, S., Yan, S., Mock, T., Archibald, J. M., Begley, T. P., Reyes-Prieto, A., & Worden, A. Z. (2014). Alternatives to vitamin B-1 uptake revealed with discovery of riboswitches in multiple marine eukaryotic lineages. ISME Journal, 8(12), 2517-2529.
    • Mitra, A., Flynn, K. J., Burkholder, J. M., Berge, T., Calbet, A., Raven, J. A., Granéli, E., Glibert, P. M., Hansen, P. J., Stoecker, D. K., Thingstad, F., Tillmann, U., Väge, S., Wilken, S., & Zubkov, M. V. (2014). The role of mixotrophic protists in the biological carbon pump. Biogeosciences, 11(4), 995-1005.
    • Wilken, S., Schuurmans, J. M., & Matthijs, H. C. P. (2014). Do mixotrophs grow as photoheterotrophs? Photophysiological acclimation of the chrysophyte Ochromonas danica after feeding. New Phytologist, 204(4), 882-889. [details]
    • Wilken, S., Verspagen, J. M. H., Naus-Wiezer, S., van Donk, E., & Huisman, J. (2014). Biological control of toxic cyanobacteria by mixotrophic predators: an experimental test of intraguild predation theory. Ecological Applications, 24(5), 1235-1249. [details]
    • Wilken, S., Verspagen, J. M. H., Naus-Wiezer, S., van Donk, E., & Huisman, J. (2014). Comparison of predator-prey interactions with and without intraguild predation by manipulation of the nitrogen source. Oikos, 123(4), 423-432. [details]


    • Wilken, S., Huisman, J., Naus-Wiezer, S., & Van Donk, E. (2013). Mixotrophic organisms become more heterotrophic with rising temperature. Ecology Letters, 16(2), 225-233. [details]


    • Wilken, S., Hoffmann, B., Hersch, N., Kirchgessner, N., Dieluweit, S., Rubner, W., Hoffmann, L. J., Merkel, R., & Peeken, I. (2011). Diatom frustules show increased mechanical strength and altered valve morphology under iron limitation. Limnology and Oceanography, 56(4), 1399-1410.



    • Van Donk, E., Cerbin, S., Wilken, S., Helmsing, N. R., Ptacnik, R., & Verschoor, A. M. (2009). The effect of a mixotrophic chrysophyte on toxic and colony-forming cyanobacteria. Freshwater Biology, 54(9), 1843-1855.


    • Bachy, C., Hehenberger, E., Ling, Y.-C., Needham, D. M., Strauss, J., Wilken, S., & Worden, A. Z. (2022). Marine Protists: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to their Role in the Marine Microbiome. In The Marine Microbiome (pp. 159-241). (The Microbiomes of Humans, Animals, Plants, and the Environment; Vol. 3). Springer.


    • Wilken, S., Huisman, J., & van Donk, E. (2009). Do microcystins act as an inducible defense against flagellate grazing in Microcystis aeruginosa?. Poster session presented at Annual Congress of the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, .


    • Wilken, S. (2013). Mixotrophs in aquatic ecosystems: linking physiology to food web dynamics.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities