Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Dr. Pieternella Luttikhuizen

Senior Scientist
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 508
Senior Scientist

Populations of a species differ from place to place. I study how these differences originate, how they are maintained and how they may eventually lead to speciation. This is done by contrasting neutral genetic variation with variation that is influenced by natural selection. Admixture zones are my particular interest. At present I focus on bivalves (Macoma spp. and Scrobicularia plana) and worms (Arenicola spp. and Scoloplos armiger). The techniques I use are DNA sequencing and AFLP.

‘I try to understand historical and present-day population processes by studying DNA. Signatures that such processes leave can be detected from DNA variability, for example: colonisation, sudden population expansion, ongoing migration and selection. During my PhD work at NIOZ and Rijksuniversity Groningen (2003, cum laude) I first started contrasting selectively neutral variation with non-neutral variation. This involved breeding bivalves for estimating genetic variance for quantitative characters. I also proposed a historical scenario for populations of the bivalve Macoma balthica based on coalescent similations. As a post-doc at the University of Amsterdam I examined variation in recognition proteins of aquatic plants for understanding selective forces operating during sexual reproduction. The wish for the combined analysis of selection, history and migration led to a post-doc at Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratories in Sweden, and to my current position back at NIOZ.’

NIOZ publications

  • 2017
    Goedknegt, M.A.; Havermans, J.; Waser, A.M.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Velilla, E.; Camphuysen, C.J.; Van der Meer, J.; Thieltges, D.W. (2017). Cross-species comparison of parasite richness, prevalence, and intensity in a native compared to two invasive brachyuran crabs. Aquat. Invasions 12(2): 201-212.
    Goedknegt, M.A.; Schuster, A.-K.; Buschbaum, C.; Gergs, R.; Jung, A.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Van der Meer, J.; Troost, K.; Wegner, K.M.; Thieltges, D.W. (2017). Spillover but no spillback of two invasive parasitic copepods from invasive Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) to native bivalve hosts. Biological Invasions 19(1).
  • 2016
    de Bakker, D.M.; Meesters, E.H.W.G.; van Bleijswijk, J.D.L.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Breeuwer, H.J.A.J.; Becking, L.E. (2016). Population Genetic Structure, Abundance, and Health Status of Two Dominant BenthicSpecies in the Saba Bank National Park, Caribbean Netherlands: Montastraea cavernosa and Xestospongia muta. PLoS One 11: e0155969.
    Goedknegt, M.A.; Feis, M.E.; Wegner, K.M.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Buschbaum, C.; Camphuysen, C.J.; Van der Meer, J.; Thieltges, D.W. (2016). Parasites and marine invasions: Ecological and evolutionary perspectives. J. Sea Res. 113: 11–27.
    van Walraven, L.; Driessen, F.; van Bleijswijk, J.; Bol, A.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Coolen, J.; Bos, O.G.; Gittenberger, A.; Schrieken, N.; Langenberg, V.T.; van der Veer, H.W. (2016). Where are the polyps? Molecular identification, distribution and population differentiation of Aurelia aurita jellyfish polyps in the southern North Sea area. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 163: 172.
  • 2015
    Feis, M.E.; Thieltges, D.W.; Olsen, J.L.; de Montaudouin, X.; Jensen, K.T.; Bazaïri, H.; Culloty, S.C.; Luttikhuizen, P.C. (2015). The most vagile host as the main determinant of population connectivity in marine macroparasites. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 520: 85-99.
  • 2014
    Reneerkens, J.; van Veelen, P.; van der Velde, M.; Luttikhuizen, P.; Piersma, T. (2014). Within-population variation in mating system and parental care patterns in the Sander ling (Calidris alba) in northeast Greenland. The Auk 131(2): 235-247.
  • 2012
    Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Drent, J.; Peijnenburg, K.T.C.A.; van der Veer, H.W.; Johannesson, K. (2012). Genetic architecture in a marine hybrid zone: comparing outlier detection and genomic clines analysis in the bivalve Macoma balthica. Mol. Ecol. 21(12): 3048-3061.
    Santos, S.; Aarts, G.M; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Campos, J.; Piersma, T.; van der Veer, H.W. (2012). Site-specific distribution of the bivalve Scrobicularia plana along the European coast. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 471: 123-134.
    Santos, S.; Cardoso, J.F.M.F.; Borges, V.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; van der Veer, H.W. (2012). Isotopic fractionation between seawater and the shell of Scrobicularia plana (Bivalvia) and its application for age validation. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(3): 601-611.
    Santos, S.; Cruzeiro, C.; Olsen, J.L.; van der Veer, H.W.; Luttikhuizen, P.C. (2012). Isolation by distance and low connectivity in the peppery furrow shell Scrobicularia plana (Bivalvia). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 462: 111-124.
  • 2011
    Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Bol, A.; Cardoso, J.F.M.F.; Dekker, R. (2011). Overlapping distributions of cryptic Scoloplos cf. armiger species in the western Wadden Sea. J. Sea Res. 66(3): 231-237.
    Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Bol, A.; Witte, H.; van Bleijswijk, J.; Haddrath, O.; Baker, A.J.; Piersma, T.; Reneerkens, J.; Piersma, T. (2011). Novel and cross-species microsatellite markers for parentage analysis in Sanderling Calidris alba. J. Ornithol. 152(3): 807-810.
    Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Honkoop, P.J.C.; Drent, J. (2011). Intraspecific egg size variation and sperm limitation in the broadcast spawning bivalve Macoma balthica. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 396(2): 156-161.
    Santos, S.; Cardoso, J.F.M.F.; Carvalho, C.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; van der Veer, H.W. (2011). Seasonal variability in somatic and reproductive investment of the bivalve Scrobicularia plana (da Costa, 1778) along a latitudinal gradient. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 92(1): 19-26.
    Santos, S.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Campos, J.; Heip, C.H.R.; van der Veer, H.W. (2011). Spatial distribution patterns of the peppery furrow shell Scrobicularia plana (da Costa, 1778) along the European coast: A review. J. Sea Res. 66(3): 238-247.

Linked projects

Effects of invasive species on native predator-prey and pathogen-host webs
David Thieltges
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research - Ocean and Coastal Research
Project duration
31 Dec 2011 - 30 Aug 2016
RECON-INSITE_Reef effects of structures in the North Sea: Islands or connections?
Wageningen University and Research
Project duration
1 Sep 2016 - 31 Aug 2017