Dr Reuben Shipway

Dr Reuben Shipway

Lecturer in Marine Biology

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Dr Reuben Shipway can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Shipworms
  • Gribbles
  • Wood-borers
  • Symbiosis
  • Carbon cycling
  • Mangrove forests
  • Underwater Cultural Heritage
  • Shipwrecks


Reuben joined us as a Lecturer in Marine Biology in December 2021. His research focuses on wood-eating marine invertebrates (such as gribbles and shipworms) and their microbial symbionts. Reuben uses a range of approaches such as advanced imaging, microbiology and omics to understand how these animals eat wood and the role they play in various ecosystems - from deepsea wood falls to mangrove forests, seagrass roots to historic wooden shipwrecks, and coastal constructions like piers and sea defences. His current research focuses on the process of wood digestion (chemical, enzymatic and mechanical) in these animals, and how these processes drive the flow of terrestrial carbon (wood) through marine ecosystems. Reuben is also interested in the cultural impact of shipworms, how they have changed and continue to change history, and how we can protect underwater cultural heritage from shipworm biodegradation.


Reuben joins us from the University of Portsmouth (UK), where he was a Research and Teaching Fellow for two years. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Microbiology Department, University of Massachusetts (USA), and Ocean Genome Legacy Center (Northeastern University, Massachusetts, USA) from 2014-2019. Reuben completed his BSc in Marine Biology from the University of Portsmouth in 2009, and subsequently his PhD in 2013. His PhD, titled ‘Aspects of the life history strategies of the Teredinidae’, used an omics and imaging-based approach to understand mechanisms of wood digestion in shipworms.

Roles on external bodies

Editorial Board Member - Royal Society, Biology Letters




28. Cotton, D.R.E., Cotton, P.A., & Shipway J.R. Chatting and Cheating: Ensuring academic integrity in the era of ChatGPT. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2023.2190148

Preprint available at: EdArXiv https://edarxiv.org/mrz8h/


27. 2022. Shaffer, J.P., Nothias, L.F., Thompson, L.R., Sanders, J.G., Salido, R.A., Couvillion, S.P., Brejnrod, A.D., Lejzerowicz, F., Haiminen, N., Huang, S., Lutz, H.L., Zhu, Q., Martino, C., Morton, J.T., Karthikeyan, S., Nothias-Esposito, M., Dührkop, K., Böcker, S., Kim, H.W., Aksenov, A.A., Bittremieux, W., Minich, J.J., Marotz, C., Bryant, M.M., the Earth Microbiome Project 500 (EMP500) Consortium (including Shipway J.R.). Standardized multi-omics of Earth’s microbiomes reveals microbial and metabolite diversity. Nature microbiology, 7(12), pp.2128-2150. (Impact Factor 26.11)10.1038/s41564-022-01266-x


26. 2022. Li, Y., Altamia, M.A., Shipway J.R., Brugler, M.R., Bernardino, A.F., de Brito, T.L., Lin, Z., da Silva Oliveira, F.A., Sumida, P., Smith, C.R., Trindade-Silva, A., Halanych, K.M., & Distel D.L. Contrasting Modes of Mitochondrial Genome Evolution in Sister Taxa of Wood-Eating Marine Bivalves (Teredinidae and Xylophagaidae). Genome biology and evolution, 14(6), p.evac089 (Impact Factor 3.33). https://doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evac089


25. 2022. Hendy I.W., Shipway J.R., Tupper M., Etxabe A.G., Ward R.D. & Cragg S.M. Biodegraders of Large Woody Debris Across a Tidal Gradient in an Indonesian Mangrove Ecosystem. Front. For. Glob. Change 5:852217. (Impact Factor 4.33). https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2022.852217


24. 2022. Martin, L.S., Shipway, J.R., Martin, M.A., Malyon, G.P., Akter, M. & Cragg, S.M. Rapid Testing of Resistance of Timber to Biodegradation by Marine Wood-Boring Crustaceans. Journal of Visualized Experiments: Jove, (179). (Impact Factor 1.35). https://dx.doi.org/10.3791/62776


23. 2022. Borges, L.M., Treneman, N.C., Haga, T., Shipway, J.R., Raupach, M.J., Altermark, B. & Carlton, J.T. Out of taxonomic crypsis: A new trans-arctic cryptic species pair corroborated by phylogenetics and molecular evidence. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 166, p.107312. (Impact Factor 3.49). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107312


22. 2021. Pesante, G., Sabbadin, F., Elias, L., Steele-King, C., Shipway, J.R., Dowle, A.A., Li, Y., Busse-Wicher, M., Dupree, P., Besser, K. and Cragg, S.M. Characterisation of the enzyme transport path between shipworms and their bacterial symbionts. BMC biology, 19(1), pp.1-18. (Impact Factor 7.43). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01162-6


21. 2021. Altamia, M.A., Shipway, J.R., Stein, D., Betcher, M.A., Fung, J.M., Jospin, G., Eisen, J., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. Teredinibacter haidensis sp. nov., Teredinibacter purpureus sp. nov. and Teredinibacter franksiae sp. nov., marine, cellulolytic endosymbiotic bacteria isolated from the gills of the wood-boring mollusc Bankia setacea (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) and emended description of the genus Teredinibacter. International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology, 71(2). (Impact Factor 3.35). https://doi.org/10.1099%2Fijsem.0.004627


20. 2021. Stravoravdis, S., Shipway, J.R. & Goodell, B. How do shipworms eat wood? Screening shipworm gill symbiont genomes for lignin-modifying enzymes. Frontiers in Microbiology, p.1954. (IF 4.235). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.665001


19. 2020. Shipway, J.R., Treneman, N.C. & Distel, D.L. Mate competition during pseudocopulation in shipworms. Biology letters, 16(12), p.20200626. (Impact Factor 3.56). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0626


International press coverage:



18. 2020. Altamia, M.A., Lin, Z., Trindade-Silva, A.E., Uy, I.D., Shipway, J.R., Wilke, D.V., Concepcion, G.P., Distel, D.L., Schmidt, E.W. & Haygood, M.G. Secondary metabolism in the gill microbiota of shipworms (Teredinidae) as revealed by comparison of metagenomes and nearly complete symbiont genomes. Msystems, 5(3), pp.e00261-20. (Impact Factor 6.63). https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00261-20


17. 2020. Altamia, M.A., Shipway, J.R., Stein, D., Betcher, M.A., Fung, J.M., Jospin, G., Eisen, J., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. Teredinibacter waterburyi sp. nov., a marine, cellulolytic endosymbiotic bacterium isolated from the gills of the wood-boring mollusc Bankia setacea (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) and emended description of the genus Teredinibacter. International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology, 70(4), p.2388. (Impact Factor 3.35). 10.1099/ijsem.0.004049


16. 2019. Shipway, J.R., Rosenberg, G., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G., Savrda, C. & Distel, D.L. Shipworm bioerosion of lithic substrates in a freshwater setting, Abatan River, Philippines: Ichnologic, paleoenvironmental and biogeomorphical implications. PLoS One, 14(10), p.e0224551. (Impact Factor 3.35). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224551


15. 2019. Shipway, J.R., Altamia, M.A., Rosenberg, G., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. A rock-boring and rock-ingesting freshwater bivalve (shipworm) from the Philippines. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1905), p.20190434. (Impact Factor 5.61). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0434


Feature article in Proceedings B, with journal cover image and international press coverage:



Featured as a Top 50 Scientific Discovery of 2019 in Discovery Magazine:



14. 2019. Altamia, M.A., Shipway, J.R., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. Thiosocius teredinicola gen. nov., sp. nov., a sulfur-oxidizing chemolithoautotrophic endosymbiont cultivated from the gills of the giant shipworm, Kuphus polythalamius. International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology, 69(3), p.638. https://doi.org/10.1099%2Fijsem.0.003143


13. 2019. Shipway, J.R., Altamia, M.A., Rosenberg, G., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. Tamilokus mabinia, a new, anatomically divergent genus and species of wood-boring bivalve from the Philippines. PeerJ, 7, p.e6256. (Impact Factor 2.15). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6256


International press coverage: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/science/shipworm-new-philippines.html


12. 2018. Shipway, J.R., Altamia, M.A., Haga, T., Velásquez, M., Albano, J., Dechavez, R., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G. & Distel, D.L. Observations on the life history and geographic range of the giant chemosymbiotic shipworm Kuphus polythalamius (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). The Biological Bulletin, 235(3), pp.167-177. (Impact Factor 1.65). https://doi.org/10.1086/700278


11. 2018. Sabbadin, F., Pesante, G., Elias, L., Besser, K., Li, Y., Steele-King, C., Stark, M., Rathbone, D.A., Dowle, A.A., Bates, R. and Shipway, J.R., S. M. Cragg, Bruce, N.C., & McQueen-Mason, S. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion in shipworms. Biotechnology for biofuels, 11(1), pp.1-14. (Impact Factor 5.88).



10. 2018. Velásquez, M. & Shipway, J.R. A new genus and species of deep-sea wood-boring shipworm (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) Nivanteredo coronata n. sp. from the Southwest Pacific. Marine Biology Research, 14(8), pp.806-815. (Impact Factor 1.25). https://doi.org/10.1080/17451000.2018.1544421


9. 2018. Treneman, N.C., Carlton, J.T., Borges, L., Shipway, J.R., Raupach, M. & Altermark, B. Species diversity and abundance of shipworms (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in woody marine debris generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. (Impact Factor 2.0). https://doi.org/10.3391/ai.2018.13.1.07


8. 2018. Treneman, N.C., Borges, L., Shipway, J.R., Raupach, M.J., Altermark, B. & Carlton, J.T. A molecular phylogeny of wood-borers (Teredinidae) from Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris. (Impact Factor 2.0). https://doi.org/10.3391/ai.2018.13.1.08


7. 2017. Distel, D.L., Altamia, M.A., Lin, Z., Shipway, J.R., Han, A., Forteza, I., Antemano, R., Limbaco, M.G.J.P., Tebo, A.G., Dechavez, R., Albano, J., Rosenberg, G., Concepcion, G.P., Schmidt, E.W., & Haygood, M.G. Discovery of chemoautotrophic symbiosis in the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) extends wooden-steps theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(18), pp.E3652-E3658. (Impact Factor 9.5)https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1620470114


International press coverage: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39626131


6. 2017. Ahrens, M., Shipway, J.R., Caballero, S., Moncaleano, A. & Casseres Ruiz, S. Confirmación molecular de tres especies de bivalvos xilótrofos (Familia Teredinidae) en las bahías de Cartagena y Barbacoas, mar Caribe, Colombia. https://doi.org/10.21789/22561498.880


5. 2017. Velásquez, M., Shipway, J.R., Lira, C., Capelo, J. & Narciso, S. Shipworms from Venezuela (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Teredinidae): an updated survey. Festivus, 49(4), pp.302-316.


4. 2016. Shipway, J.R., O’connor, R., Stein, D., Cragg, S.M., Korshunova, T., Martynov, A., Haga, T. & Distel, D.L. Zachsia zenkewitschi (Teredinidae), a rare and unusual seagrass boring bivalve revisited and redescribed. PloS one, 11(5), p.e0155269. (Impact Factor 3.35). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155269


3. 2014. Wurzinger-Mayer, A., Shipway, J.R., Kristof, A., Schwaha, T., Cragg, S.M. & Wanninger, A. Developmental dynamics of myogenesis in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus (Mollusca: Bivalvia). Frontiers in zoology, 11(1), pp.1-15. (Impact Factor 2.96). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12983-014-0090-9


2. 2014. Shipway J.R., Borges, L.M., Müller, J. & Cragg, S.M. The broadcast spawning Caribbean shipworm, Teredothyra dominicensis (Bivalvia, Teredinidae), has invaded and become established in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Biological Invasions, 16(10), pp.2037-2048. (Impact Factor 2.73). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0646-9


1. 2012. Borges, L.M., Sivrikaya, H., Le Roux, A., Shipway, J.R., Cragg, S.M. & Costa, F.O. Investigating the taxonomy and systematics of marine wood borers (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) combining evidence from morphology, DNA barcodes and nuclear locus sequences. Invertebrate Systematics, 26(6), pp.572-582. (Impact Factor 1.97)https://doi.org/10.1071/IS12028