Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 36 9428
Head of Scientific Department
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Organic geochemistry
  • Microbial ecology
  • Molecular evolution
  • Lipid biosynthesis

Dr. Laura Villanueva

Head of Scientific Department

The “skin” of microorganisms reflect their environment

Microbiologist Laura Villanueva studies the membranes that surround microbes. ‘A microorganism’s membrane is effectively its skin. Just like our skin, the membrane responds strongly to the environment. Our skin becomes darker if more sunlight falls on it or shivers if it is cold. Similarly, changes also take place in the membranes of microorganisms. These can tell you something about the climate under which the organism is living or has lived.’

‘In particular, the possibility to derive conditions from the past based on the composition of a membrane offers many interesting possibilities. By searching for fossils of membranes in seafloors – the lipid molecules from these membranes can remain intact for millions of years – we can learn what the sea temperature was in a certain period. However, to do that we first need to investigate “modern” species to find out how their composition changes when allowed to grow at different temperatures. Ultimately, this research could contribute to understanding the earth’s climate in the past and therefore to prognoses for the climate of the future.’


From an evolutionary viewpoint, I am particularly interested in the “archaea”, more commonly known as ancient bacteria. This is a separate domain of unicellular organisms that can survive under extreme conditions. By searching for archaea that can live at considerable depth without oxygen and under extreme pressure, or under extreme temperatures in the vicinity of hot water springs, I also hope to learn what that does to the composition of their membranes.’

‘The study of membranes also has particularly practical applications. Some medicines can only be delivered to the right location in the body if the active substances are packaged in the right membrane. So besides understanding the climate from the past and the present, membranes can also teach us something about how we can improve medicines.’

Read more +
See more about me @NIOZ here


Research interests

Molecular Geomicrobiology is the molecular level understanding of microbial activities both in past and present ecosystems. I combine molecular microbiology & organic biogeochemistry techniques to determine:

  • Biological sources of lipid biomarkers
  • Evolutionary acquisition of lipid biomarkers
  • Regulation of microbial lipid synthesis
  • Abundance, activity & distribution of key players of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles in marine systems

Education & research experience

11/2013-present: Senior Research Scientist (tenured) at the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry, NIOZ.
Topic: Molecular evolution of lipid synthetic pathways. Anaerobic microorganisms involved in carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles. Metagenomics and lipidomics.
10/2009-11/2013: Tenure-track Research Scientist (Geomicrobiology) at the Department of Marine Organic Biogeochemistry, NIOZ.
Topic: Microbial ecology of microorganisms involved in the nitrogen cycle. Lipid biomarkers marine Thaumarchaeota.
2007-2009: Postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University (MA, USA).
Topic: Evolution of bacteriophage-host specificity.
2006-2007: Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Microbiology in the University of Massachusetts (Amherst, MA, USA).
Topic: Anaerobic culturing and gene expression in Desulfovibrio
1/2002–12/2005: PhD in Microbial Ecology in the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona (Spain).
Title: Ecophysiological and molecular characterization of estuarine microbial mats. Diploma of European Mention.


Research interests

Lipid biosynthetic pathways
My research is focused on lipid biomarkers of certain organisms either because they are markers of the presence of a specific group (e.g. ladderane lipids of anammox bacteria), physiological condition (e.g. ornithine lipids, thought to be formed under phosphate limitation), or mostly because they have been seen to correlate to growth temperature and thus used to estimate paleotemperature (e.g. long chain alkenones, GDGTs, and long chain diols involved in the organic paleotemperature proxies UK37, TEX86 and LDI).
In order to improve the predictive nature of lipid biomarkers used for microbial ecology and in paleotemperature proxies it is essential to determine the following:
•Their biological source/s, as well as seasonality and spatial distribution of the source/s.
•How changes in physicochemical conditions influence the abundance and distribution of these biomarkers
•How and when these biomarkers have been acquired through evolution and how these capacity has been spread among different biological taxa
For doing so, I combine lipid analysis with molecular techniques based on:
•Analyzing lipid synthetic pathways: evolution and prediction of gene function
•Targeting phylogenetic, metabolic and lipid biosynthetic genes as markers for the presence of lipid biomarker producers.
•Estimating which physicochemical conditions that induce changes in the synthesis of lipid biomarkers.
Thaumarchaeota diversity and ecophysiology
Members of the Thaumarchaeota phylum have been found to be ubiquitous in marine, freshwater, soils (and others) environments. So far it has been assumed that all thaumarchaeota are chemolithoautotrophs and ammonia oxidizers based on the presence of a unique carbon fixation pathway and the gene coding for ammonia monooxygenase (amoA gene). These physiological characteristics, as well as the relative high abundance of this group in some environments, suggest an important role of Thaumarchaeota in the carbon and nitrogen cycles. In addition, it has been observed that all cultured representatives of the Thaumarchaeota uniquely synthesize the glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) crenarchaeol (with 4 cyclopentane and a cyclohexane moiety), which is considered as a biomarker for the presence of this group. The relative abundance of thaumarchaeotal membrane lipids (GDGTs with zero to 4 cyclopentane moieties, GDGT-0 to GDGT-4, and crenarchaeol) has been shown to be correlated with the temperature at which these organisms are growing. Based on this the TEX86 (TetraEther indeX of tetraethers consisting of 86 carbon atoms) paleotemperature proxy was developed and further tested to reconstruct the temperature in past environments.
Anaerobic bacteria involved in Nitrogen and Methane cycles

The re-mineralization of organic matter in anoxic sediments is mainly driven by fermentative microorganisms, sulfate reducers, and methanogens. However, there is a general lack of knowledge on the diversity, abundance and activity of the anaerobic microorganisms involved (directly or indirectly) in organic matter recycling in anoxic sediments.
Methanogens (strictly anaerobic archaea) biologically produce methane, a trace greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere the concentration of which has doubled since industrialization. On its way to the atmosphere, methane travels through anaerobic sediments, passing through zones dominated by different regimes of anaerobic respiration before reaching the aerobic sediment or oxic water column. Along this route methane can be oxidized, which significantly decreases/mitigates the effective emission of this greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. However, it is unclear how ecosystems to different physicochemical conditions with respect to methane production, consumption and thus ultimately emissions to the atmosphere.

Our aim is to improve our understanding of the microbial players involved in anaerobic organic matter remineralization and also specifically focus on those involved in the methane cycle. We also want to assess their individual niches, metabolic pathways, environmental significance, interactions, and their response to environmental changes. Ultimately this information will be key to explore their potential use in biotechnology and to design mitigation strategies for greenhouse gas emission.

This research is conducted in the framework of the Soehngen Institute for Anaerobic Microbiology SIAM (Gravitation grant- Zwaartekracht, from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, read more here) in which the Radboud University, Wageningen University, Delft University of Technology, and NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research participate.

Contact me!

Phone: +31 0222-369-428

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Learn more about my research in my blog


Linked news

Thursday 06 April 2023
Lauded microbiologist Jill Banfield visits NIOZ
Earth scientist Professor Jill Banfield of the University of California at Berkeley received the Van Leeuwenhoek Medal yesterday, during the annual meeting of the Royal Dutch Society for Microbiology. This award for influential (micro)biologists has…
Monday 19 December 2022
Linking fossil climate proxies to living bacteria helps climate predictions
Microbes have skins that react to the environment, much in the same way that our skin sweats when it is hot , or shivers when it is cold outside. Fossilized microbial skins can give us a glimpse of how the climate was in the deep geological past. By…
Monday 20 June 2022
Detectives in subtropical waters | on the hunt for toxic dinoflagellates
The coastal waters around Florida can suddenly turn red, green or brown, with fatal consequences for manatees, fish and other marine life. The cause: microscopic organisms that can produce toxins. That not only has disastrous consequences for nature,…
Wednesday 16 September 2020
Discovery of microbes with 'mixed skins' sheds new light on early evolution of life
Current research suggests that more complex life-forms, including humans, evolved from a symbiosis event of Bacteria and another single-celled organism known as Archaea. However, evidence of a transition period in which the two organisms mixed were…
Wednesday 29 July 2020
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation award for model of aquatic symbiosis
Today The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has granted a Symbiosis Model Systems award to an international consortium consisting of Dr. Anja Spang (NIOZ), Dr. Laura Villanueva (NIOZ), Dr. Dina Grohmann (University of Regensburg), Dr. Harald Huber…
Thursday 17 October 2019
PhD defence: Sources and genetic controls of lipid biomarkers involved in paleotemperature proxies
On November 1, 2019 Marc Besseling will defend his thesis at the University of Utrecht.

Linked blogs

Wednesday 22 June 2022
Tracking two harmful algal blooms species through time
When microorganisms or macroalgae grow out of control they can cause harmful algal blooms (HABs). These HABs impact the environment, but may also have negative influence on humans, especially when they produce toxins. Due to human impact and climate…
Tuesday 21 August 2018
NIOZ@SEA | Black Sea cruise 2018
The Black Sea is the largest permanently stratified low oxygen basin in the world and its water column is characterized by the presence of multiple redox gradients. This is an ideal setting to determine the physiology and role of microbes that do not…
Wednesday 29 March 2017
NIOZ@Sea: Black Sea cruise
This edition of NIOZ@Sea is a series of blogs from the Black Sea cruise of our scientists on board research vessel Pelagia. The Black Sea is the largest permanently stratified sea in the world. This is ideal to study the structure of microbial…

NIOZ publications

  • 2023
    Hoshino, Y.; Villanueva, L. (2023). Four billion years of microbial terpenome evolution. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 47(2): 1-39.
    Tamby, A.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2023). Microbial membrane lipid adaptations to high hydrostatic pressure in the marine environment. Front. Mol. Biosci. 9: 1058381.
  • 2022
    Ding, S.; Henkel, J.V.; Hopmans, E.C.; Bale, N.J.; Koenen, M.; Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2022). Changes in the membrane lipid composition of a Sulfurimonas species depend on the electron acceptor used for sulfur oxidation. ISME Commun. 2: 121.
    Krause, S.; Gfrerer, S.; von Kügelgen, A.; Reuse, C.; Dombrowski, N.; Villanueva, L.; Bunk, B.; Spröer, C.; Neu, T.R.; Kuhlicke, U.; Schmidt-Hohagen, K.; Hiller, K.; Bharat, T.A.M.; Rachel, R.; Spang, A.; Gescher, J. (2022). The importance of biofilm formation for cultivation of a Micrarchaeon and its interactions with its Thermoplasmatales host. Nature Comm. 13: 1735.
    Sahonero Canavesi, D.X.; Siliakus, M.F.; Abdala Asbun, A.; Koenen, M.; von Meijenfeldt, F. A.B.; Boeren, S.; Bale, N.J.; Engelmann, J.C.; Fiege, K.; Strack van Schijndel, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2022). Disentangling the lipid divide: Identification of key enzymes for the biosynthesis of membrane-spanning and ether lipids in bacteria. Science Advances 8(50).
    Sahonero Canavesi, D.X.; Villanueva, L.; Bale, N.J.; Bosviel, J.; Koenen, M.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2022). Changes in the distribution of membrane lipids during growth of Thermotoga maritima at different temperatures: Indications for the potential mechanism of biosynthesis of ether-bound diabolic acid (membrane-spanning) lipids. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 88(2).
    Suominen, S.; Gomez-Saez, G.V.; Dittmar, T.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2022). Interplay between microbial community composition and chemodiversity of dissolved organic matter throughout the Black Sea water column redox gradient. Limnol. Oceanogr. 67(2): 329-347.
    van Kemenade, Z.R.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Kraal, P.; Witte, H.J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Rush, D. (2022). Bacteriohopanetetrol-x: constraining its application as a lipid biomarker for marine anammox using the water column oxygen gradient of the Benguela upwelling system. Biogeosciences 19(1): 201-221.
    Villanueva, L.; Coolen, M.J.L. (2022). Contributions of genomics to lipid biomarker research: From paleoclimatology to evolution. Elements 18(2): 87-92.
  • 2021
    Bale, N.J.; Ding, S.; Hopmans, E.C.; Arts, M.G.I.; Villanueva, L.; Boschman, C.; Haas, A.F.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S (2021). Lipidomics of environmental microbial communities. I: visualization of component distributions using untargeted analysis of high-resolution mass spectrometry data. Front. Microbiol. 12.
    Baxter, A.J.; van Bree, L.G.J.; Peterse, F.; Hopmans, E.C.; Villanueva, L.; Verschuren, D.; Sinninghe Damste, J.S. (2021). Seasonal and multi-annual variation in the abundance of isoprenoid GDGT membrane lipids and their producers in the water column of a meromictic equatorial crater lake (Lake Chala, East Africa). Quat. Sci. Rev. 273: 107263.
    Ding, S.; Bale, N.J.; Hopmans, E.C.; Villanueva, L.; Arts, M.G.I.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S (2021). Lipidomics of environmental microbial communities. II: characterization using molecular networking and information theory. Front. Microbiol. 12: 659315.
    Fischer, P.Q.; Sánchez-Andrea, I.; Stams, A.J.M.; Villanueva, L.; Sousa, D.Z. (2021). Anaerobic microbial methanol conversion in marine sediments. Environ. Microbiol. 23(3): 1348-1362.
    Lara, P.; Vega-Alvarado, L.; Sahonero Canavesi, D.X.; Koenen, M.; Villanueva, L.; Riveros-Mckay, F.; Morett, E.; Juárez, K. (2021). Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Cr(VI) Adaptation Mechanisms in Klebsiella sp. Strain AqSCr. Front. Microbiol. 12.
    Lattaud, J.; Balzano, S.; van der Meer, M.T.J.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Schouten, S. (2021). Sources and seasonality of long-chain diols in a temperate lake (Lake Geneva). Org. Geochem. 156: 104223.
    Smit, N.T.; Villanueva, L.; Rush, D.; Grassa, F.; Witkowski, C.R.; Holzheimer, M.; Minnaard, A.J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2021). Novel hydrocarbon-utilizing soil mycobacteria synthesize unique mycocerosic acids at a Sicilian everlasting fire. Biogeosciences 18(4): 1463-1479.
    Suominen, S.; Dombrowski, N.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2021). A diverse uncultivated microbial community is responsible for organic matter degradation in the Black Sea sulphidic zone. Environ. Microbiol. 23(6): 2709-2728.
    Suominen, S.; Doorenspleet; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2021). Microbial community development on model particles in the deep sulfidic waters of the Black Sea. Environ. Microbiol. 23(6): 2729-2746.
    Suominen, S.; van Vliet, D.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I.; van der Meer, M.T.J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2021). Organic matter type defines the composition of active microbial communities originating from anoxic Baltic Sea sediments. Front. Microbiol. 12: 628301.
    van Vliet, D.M.; von Meijenfeldt, F.A.B.; Dutilh, B.E.; Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Stams, A.J.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I. (2021). The bacterial sulfur cycle in expanding dysoxic and euxinic marine waters. Environ. Microbiol. 23(6): 2834-2857.
    Villanueva, L.; von Meijenfeldt, F.A.B.; Westbye, A.B.; Yadav, S.; Hopmans, E.C.; Dutilh, B.E.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S (2021). Bridging the membrane lipid divide: bacteria of the FCB group superphylum have the potential to synthesize archaeal ether lipids. ISME J. 15: 168-182.
    Yadav, S.; Koenen, M.; Bale, N.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2021). The physiology and metabolic properties of a novel, low‐abundance Psychrilyobacter species isolated from the anoxic Black Sea shed light on its ecological role. Environmental Microbiology Reports 13(6): 899-910.
  • 2020
    Abdala Asbun, A.; Besseling, M.A.; Balzano, S.; van Bleijswijk, J.D.L.; Witte, H.J.; Villanueva, L.; Engelmann, J.C. (2020). Cascabel: A scalable and versatile amplicon sequence data analysis pipeline delivering reproducible and documented results. Frontiers in Genetics 11: 489357.
    Bale, N.J.; Koenen, M.; Yadav, S.; Hopmans, E.C.; Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2020). Diagnostic amide products of amino lipids detected in the microaerophilic bacteria Lutibacter during routine fatty acid analysis using gas chromatography. Org. Geochem. 144: 104027.
    Besseling, M.A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Bale, N.J.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2020). The absence of intact polar lipid-derived GDGTs in marine waters dominated by Marine Group II: Implications for lipid biosynthesis in Archaea. NPG Scientific Reports 10(1): 10 pp.
    Carreira, C.; Lønborg, C.; Kühl, M.; Lillebø, A.I.; Sandaa, R.-A.; Villanueva, L.; Cruz, S. (2020). Fungi and viruses as important players in microbial mats. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 96(11): fiaa187.
    van Bree, L.G.J.; Peterse, F.; Baxter, A.J.; De Crop, W.; van Grinsven, S.; Villanueva, L.; Verschuren, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S (2020). Seasonal variability and sources of in situ brGDGT production in a permanently stratified African crater lake. Biogeosciences 17(21): 5443-5463.
    van der Graaf, C.M.; Sánchez-España, J.; Yusta, I.; Ilin, A.; Shetty, S.A.; Bale, N.J.; Villanueva, L.; Stams, A.J.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I. (2020). Biosulfidogenesis mediates natural attenuation in acidic mine pit lakes. Microorganisms 8(9): 1275.
    van der Graaf; Sánchez-España; Yusta; Ilin; Shetty; Bale, N.J.; Villanueva, L.; Stams, A.J.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I. (2020). Biosulfidogenesis mediates natural attenuation in acidic mine pit lakes. Microorganisms 8(9): 1275.
    van Grinsven, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Harrison, J.; Polerecky, L.; Villanueva, L. (2021). Nitrate promotes the transfer of methane‐derived carbon from the methanotroph Methylobacter sp. to the methylotroph Methylotenera sp. in eutrophic lake water. Limnol. Oceanogr. 66(3): 878-891.
    van Grinsven, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Abdala Asbun, A.; Engelmann, J.C.; Harrison, J.; Villanueva, L. (2020). Methane oxidation in anoxic lake water stimulated by nitrate and sulfate addition. Environ. Microbiol. 22(2): 766-782.
    van Grinsven, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Harrison, J.; Villanueva, L. (2020). Impact of electron acceptor availability on methane-influenced microorganisms in an enrichment culture obtained from a stratified lake. Front. Microbiol. 11: article 715.
    van Grinsven, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2020). Assessing the effect of humic substances and Fe(III) as potential electron acceptors for anaerobic methane oxidation in a marine anoxic system. Microorganisms 8(9): 1288.
    van Vliet, D.M.; Lin; Bale, N.J.; Koenen, M.; Villanueva, L.; Stams, A.J.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I. (2020). Pontiella desulfatans gen. nov., sp. nov., and Pontiella sulfatireligans sp. nov., two marine anaerobes of the Pontiellaceae fam. nov. producing sulfated glycosaminoglycan-like exopolymers. Microorganisms 8(6): 920.
    Yadav, S.; Villanueva, L.; Bale, N.; Koenen, M.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S (2020). Physiological, chemotaxonomic and genomic characterization of two novel piezotolerant bacteria of the family Marinifilaceae isolated from sulfidic waters of the Black Sea. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 43(5): 126122.
  • 2019
    Bale, N.J.; Sorokin, D.Y.; Hopmans, E.C.; Koenen, M.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Villanueva, L.; Wienk, H.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2019). New insights into the polar lipid composition of extremely halo(alkali)philic euryarchaea from hypersaline lakes. Front. Microbiol. 10: article 377.
    Balzano, S.; Villanueva, L.; de Bar, M.; Sahonero Canavesi, D.X.; Yildiz, C.; Engelmann, J.C.; Maréchal, E.; Lupette, J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2019). Biosynthesis of long chain alkyl diols and long chain alkenols in Nannochloropsis spp. (Eustigmatophyceae). Plant Cell Physiol. 60(8): 1666-1682.
    Besseling, M.A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Koenen, M.; van der Meer, M.T.J.; Vreugdenhil, S.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Villanueva, L. (2019). Depth-related differences in archaeal populations impact the isoprenoid tetraether lipid composition of the Mediterranean Sea water column. Org. Geochem. 135: 16-31.
    Sollai, M.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Keil, R.G.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2019). Archaeal sources of intact membrane lipid biomarkers in the oxygen deficient zone of the eastern tropical South Pacific. Front. Microbiol. 10: 765.
    Sollai, M.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Reichart, G.-J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2019). A combined lipidomic and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing approach reveals archaeal sources of intact polar lipids in the stratified Black Sea water column. Geobiol. 17(1): 91-109.
    van Vliet, D.M.; Palakawong Na Ayudthaya, S.; Diop, S.; Villanueva, L.; Stams, A.J.M.; Sánchez-Andrea, I. (2019). Anaerobic degradation of sulfated polysaccharides by two novel Kiritimatiellales strains isolated from Black Sea sediment. Front. Microbiol. 10: 253.
  • 2018
    Balzano, S.; Lattaud, J.; Villanueva, L.; Rampen, S.W.; Brussaard, C.P.D.; van Bleijswijk, J.; Bale, N.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2018). A quest for the biological sources of long chain alkyl diols in the western tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences 15(19): 5951-5968.
    Besseling, M.A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Boschman, R.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2018). Benthic archaea as potential sources of tetraether membrane lipids in sediments across an oxygen minimum zone. Biogeosciences 15: 4047-4064.
    Heinzelmann, S.M.; Villanueva, L.; Lipsewers, Y.A.; Sinke-Schoen, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; Van der Meer, M.T.J. (2018). Assessing the metabolism of sedimentary microbial communities using the hydrogen isotopic composition of fatty acids. Org. Geochem. 124: 123-132.
    Lattaud, J.; Kirkels, F.; Peterse, F.; Freymond, C.V.; Eglinton, T.I.; Hefter, J.; Mollenhauer, G.; Balzano, S.; Villanueva, L.; van der Meer, M.T.J.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2018). Long-chain diols in rivers: distribution and potential biological sources. Biogeosciences 15(13): 4147-4161.
    Lipsewers, Y.A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2018). Potential recycling of thaumarchaeotal lipids by DPANN Archaea in seasonally hypoxic surface marine sediments. Org. Geochem. 119: 101-109.
    Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Foesel, B.U.; Huber, K.J.; Overmann, J.; Nakagawa, S.; Kim, J.J.; Dunfield, P.F.; Dedysh, S.N.; Villanueva, L. (2018). An overview of the occurrence of ether- and ester- linked iso-diabolic acid membrane lipids in microbial cultures of the Acidobacteria: Implications for brGDGT paleoproxies for temperature and pH. Org. Geochem. 124: 63-76.
    Villanueva, L. (2018). Engineering E. coli to have a hybrid Archaeal/Bacterial membrane. Trends microbiol. (Regul. ed.) 26(7): 559-560.
  • 2017
    Balzano, S.; Villanueva, L.; de Bar, M.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2017). Impact of culturing conditions on the abundance and composition of long chain alkyl diols in species of the genus Nannochloropsis. Org. Geochem. 108: 9-17.
    Lipsewers, Y.A.; Vasquez Cardenas, D.; Seitaj, D.; Schauer, R.; Hidalgo-Martinez, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Meysman, F.J.R.; Villanueva, L.; Boschker, H.T.S. (2017). Impact of seasonal hypoxia on activity and community structure of chemolithoautotrophic bacteria in a coastal sediment. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 83(10): e03517-16.
    Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Dedysh, S.N.; Foesel, B.U.; Villanueva, L. (2017). Pheno- and Genotyping of Hopanoid Production in Acidobacteria. Front. Microbiol. 8: 968.
    Villanueva, L.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2017). Phylogenomic analysis of lipid biosynthetic genes of Archaea shed light on the ‘lipid divide’. Environ. Microbiol. 19(1): 54-69.
  • 2016
    Heinzelmann, S.M.; Bale, N.J.; Villanueva, L.; Sinke-Schoen, D.; Philippart, C.J.M.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; Van der Meer, M.T.J. (2016). Seasonal changes in the D  /  H ratio of fatty acids of pelagic microorganisms in the coastal North Sea. Biogeosciences 13: 5527-5539.
    Kim, J.-H.; Villanueva, L.; Zell, C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2016). Biological source and provenance of deep-water derived isoprenoid tetraether lipids along the Portuguese continental margin. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 172: 177–204.
    Lipsewers, Y.A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Meysman, F.J.R.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2016). Abundance and diversity of denitrifying and anammox bacteria in seasonally hypoxic and sulfidic sediments of the saline Lake Grevelingen. Front. Microbiol. 7: 1661.
    Lüke, C.; Speth, D.R.; Kox, M.A.R.; Villanueva, L.; Jetten, M.S.M. (2016). Metagenomic analysis of nitrogen and methane cycling in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone. PeerJ 4: e1924.
    Moore, E.K.; Hopmans, E.C.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2016). Elucidation and identification of amino acid containing membrane lipids using liquid chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry. Rapid Comm. Mass Spectrom. 30(6): 739–750.
  • 2015
    Heinzelmann, S.M.; Chivall, D.; M'boule, D.; Sinke-Schoen, D.; Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; van der Meer, M.T.J. (2015). Comparison of the effect of salinity on the D/H ratio of fatty acids of heterotrophic and photoautotrophic microorganisms. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 362(10).
    Heinzelmann, S.M.; Villanueva, L. ; Sinke-Schoen, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; Van der Meer, M.T.J. (2015). Impact of metabolism and growth phase on the hydrogen isotopic composition of microbial fatty acids. Front. Microbiol. 6: 408.
    Moore, E.K.; Hopmans, E.C.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Sánchez-Andrea, I.; Villanueva, L.; Wienk, H.; Schoutsen, F; Stams, A.J.M.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2015). Lysine and novel hydroxylysine lipids in soil bacteria: amino acid membrane lipid response to temperature and pH in Pseudopedobacter saltans. Front. Microbiol. 6: 637.
    Moore, E.K.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Mets, A.; Dedysh, S.N.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2015). Abundant Trimethylornithine Lipids and Specific Gene Sequences Are Indicative of Planctomycete Importance at the Oxic/Anoxic Interface in Sphagnum-Dominated Northern Wetlands. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81(18): 6333-6344.
    Villanueva, L. ; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2015). Depth-related distribution of a key gene of the tetraether lipid biosynthetic pathway in marine Thaumarchaeota. Environ. Microbiol. 17(10): 3527–3539.
  • 2014
    Bale, N.; Villanueva, L.; Fan, H.; Hopmans, E.C.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Stal, L.J. (2014). Occurrence and activity of anammox bacteria in surface sediments of the southern North Sea. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 89(1): 99–110.
    Lipsewers, Y.A.; Bale, N.J.; Hopmans, E.C.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Villanueva, L. (2014). Seasonality and depth distribution of the abundance and activity of ammonia oxidizing microorganisms in marine coastal sediments (North Sea). Front. Microbiol. 5: 471 1-12.
    Schouten, S.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; van der Meer, M.T.J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2014). Are Marine Group II Euryarchaeota significant contributors to tetraether lipids in the ocean? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111(41): e4285.
    Villanueva, L.; Besseling, M.; Rodrigo-Gamiz, M.; Rampen, S.; Verschuren, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2014). Potential biological sources of long chain alkyl diols in a lacustrine system. Org. Geochem. 68: 27-30.
    Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Bale, N.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2014). Diversity and distribution of a key sulpholipid biosynthetic gene in marine microbial assemblages. Environ. Microbiol. 16(3): 774-787.
    Villanueva, L.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2014). Genetic biomarkers of the sterol-biosynthetic pathway in microalgae. Environmental Microbiology Reports 6(1): 35-44.
    Villanueva, L.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2014). A re-evaluation of the archaeal membrane lipid biosynthetic pathway. Nat. Rev., Microbiol. 12(6): 438-448.
    Villanueva, L.; Speth, D.R.; van Alen, T.; Hoischen, A.; Jetten, M.S.M. (2014). Shotgun metagenomic data reveals significant abundance but low diversity of "Candidatus Scalindua" marine anammox bacteria in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone. Front. Microbiol. 5: 31, 1-9.
  • 2013
    Buckles, L.K.; Villanueva, L.; Weijers, J.W.H.; Verschuren, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2013). Linking isoprenoidal GDGT membrane lipid distributions with gene abundances of ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarchaeota and uncultured crenarchaeotal groups in the water column of a tropical lake (Lake Challa, East Africa). Environ. Microbiol. 15(9): 2445-2462.
    Moore, E.K.; Hopmans, E.C.; Rijpstra, W.I.C.; Villanueva, L.; Dedysh, S.N.; Wienk, H.; Schoutsen, F; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2013). Novel Mono-, Di-, and Trimethylornithine Membrane Lipids in Northern Wetland Planctomycetes. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 79(22): 6874-6884.
  • 2012
    Schouten, S.; Pitcher, A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Villanueva, L.; van Bleijswijk, J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2012). Intact polar and core glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether lipids in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone: I. Selective preservation and degradation in the water column and consequences for the TEX86. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 98: 228-243.
  • 2011
    Pitcher, A.; Villanueva, L.; Hopmans, E.C.; Schouten, S.; Reichart, G.J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2011). Niche segregation of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and anammox bacteria in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone. ISME J. 5(12): 1896-1904.

Linked projects

Laura Villanueva
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2023
UUNIOZ_How changes in gut microbiome may increase resilience against climate change
Jan van Gils
Utrecht University
Project duration
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2025
Laura Villanueva
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2023
Microbial lipids: Exploring the natural variability of an unique set of cell constituents
Laura Villanueva
European Community || European Research Council
Project duration
1 Sep 2016 - 30 Sep 2021
Biological sources and genetic controls of the paleotemperature proxy TEX86
Laura Villanueva
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Nov 2017 - 30 Oct 2021
UUNIOZ_Harmful Algal Blooms
Laura Villanueva
Utrecht University
Project duration
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2025