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.




25. Hendy IW, Shipway JR, Tupper M, Etxabe AG, Ward RD and Cragg SM (2022) Biodegraders of Large Woody Debris Across a Tidal Gradient in an Indonesian Mangrove Ecosystem. Front. For. Glob. Change 5:852217. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2022.852217


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


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


22. 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., 2021. Characterisation of the enzyme transport path between shipworms and their bacterial symbionts. BMC biology, 19(1), pp.1-18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01162-6


21. Altamia, M.A., Shipway, J.R., Stein, D., Betcher, M.A., Fung, J.M., Jospin, G., Eisen, J., Haygood, M.G. and Distel, D.L., 2021. 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). https://doi.org/10.1099%2Fijsem.0.004627


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


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


18. 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. and Haygood, M.G., 2020. 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. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00261-20


17. Altamia, M.A., Shipway, J.R., Stein, D., Betcher, M.A., Fung, J.M., Jospin, G., Eisen, J., Haygood, M.G. and Distel, D.L., 2020. 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. 10.1099/ijsem.0.004049


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


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


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


12. Shipway, J.R., Altamia, M.A., Haga, T., Velásquez, M., Albano, J., Dechavez, R., Concepcion, G.P., Haygood, M.G. and Distel, D.L., 2018. 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. https://doi.org/10.1086/700278


11. 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., 2018. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion in shipworms. Biotechnology for biofuels, 11(1), pp.1-14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13068-018-1058-3


10. Velásquez, M. and Shipway, J.R., 2018. 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. https://doi.org/10.1080/17451000.2018.1544421


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


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


7. 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. and Albano, J., 2017. 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. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1620470114


6. Ahrens, M., Shipway, R., Caballero, S., Moncaleano, A. and Casseres Ruiz, S., 2017. 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. Velásquez, M., Shipway, J.R., Lira, C., Capelo, J. and Narciso, S., 2017. Shipworms from Venezuela (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Teredinidae): an updated survey. Festivus, 49(4), pp.302-316.


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


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


2. Reuben Shipway, J., Borges, L., Müller, J. and Cragg, S.M., 2014. 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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0646-9


1. Borges, L.M., Sivrikaya, H., Le Roux, A., Shipway, J.R., Cragg, S.M. and Costa, F.O., 2012. 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. https://doi.org/10.1071/IS12028