Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (SZN) was founded in 1872 as a privately-owned and operated marine biological research station, where scientists and students from all over the world could perform their research on fresh material and living marine organisms. The SZN provided the facilities and its staff took care of logistics and assistance. These days, SZN is a publicly-owned research institute operated by the Ministry of Research and Higher Education (MIUR). SZN provides TA services for ASSEMBLE Plus, and is also the Italian partner

The mission of SZN is research on the biology and ecology of marine organisms, the study of their biodiversity, the analysis of fundamental biological processes and their potential bio-technological applications. SZN undertakes research in the field of marine bioresources, with an emphasis on the biotechnologies addressing the exploitation of molecules of marine origin for industrial processes, for the pharmaceutics, nutraceutics and other fields of interest.

SZN includes the main facilities at the HQ in Naples, a benthic ecology lab at Ischia Porto, and a marine turtle recuperation and research centre at Portici.


  • A variety of Mediterranean subtidal benthic and pelagic ecosystems, including seagrass and Maerl beds
  • A natural high-CO2, low-pH cold seep (as model for future community structure)
  • Heavy metals-impacted sites near highly comparable pristine ones
  • Near-shore deep, steep canyons dropping off into the abyssal
  • Semi-enclosed shallow lagoons

LTER sites between oligotrophic blue water and mesotrophic coastal water where plankton is sampled and enumerated weekly, and metadata in real-time

Ecosystem access

  • Coastal research vessels (On-site service) 
    • Gulf of Naples, Subtidal, Ischia
    • Two vessels complete with crew and equipment.
    • Assistance in sampling, collection of biological material, and in the acquisition of instrumental data
    • Oceanographic equipment
  • Scuba diving facilities (On-site service)
    • Material collection in different coastal environments, installation and maintenance of submerged structures and equipment, recovery, transportation and release of marine animals


Biological resources

Scientific collections of preserved specimens including organisms collected and described in the Gulf of Naples since SZN's foundation. The collection is accessible virtually from there.

  • Marine models organisms (On-site service)
    • Ciona, Paracentrotus, and other model organisms
      For further details please check:
  • Culture collections (On-site service)
    • Skeletonema spp., Pseudo-nitzschia spp.
  • Species collected upon request (On-site service)
    • Sampling and collection of biological material in the Gulf of Naples


Experimental facilities

  • Aquaria and tanks (On-site service)
    • Rearing and provision in closed environment of marine model organism at various stages, including allochthonous species
    • Continuous management and monitoring of tanks, species, materials, activities


Technology platforms

  • Imaging  (On-site service)
    • Sample preparation and technical assistance for optical, electron microscopy, live cell imaging, confocal microscopy, 3D and 4D microscopy, transmission electron (TEM) and scanning microscopes (SEM)
  • Structural and chemical analysis  (On-site service)
    • Sampling and analysis of the main abiotic and biotic variables:
      • Inorganic nutrients
      • Total and dissolved N and P
      • Dissolved oxygen
      • Particulate Organic Carbon (POC)
      • Total suspended solids (TSS)
      • Chlorophyll a
      • Photosynthetic pigments
  • Molecular biology and omics (On-site service)
    • Basic services for molecular biology
    • Qualitative control of nucleic acids
    • Real Time qPCR
    • Digital PCR
    • DNA sequencing (Sanger)
    • Genotyping
    • Automation
    • NGS

Service staff will provide training in the use of the platforms and technologies and assist, if needed, with experimental design and troubleshooting


  • Computing and storage infrastructure (On-site and remote service)
    • High performance computing clusters, network and dedicated storage. Design, implementation and maintenance of dedicated databases and software.
  • Data analysis tools and software (On-site and remote service)
    • NGS data analysis


Expert advice

  • Biological sample identification (On-site service)
    • Phytoplankton and zooplankton identification


Amenities include a lunch restaurant as well as conference and lecture facilities for up to 80 persons. SZN provides no in-house lodging, but numerous restaurants, hotels and B&Bs are in walking distance of SZN. Administration assists with hotel reservations.

Success stories at SZN

Characterization of the epizoic microbiota of the Mediterranean sea turtles


Suncica Bosak
Faculty of Science,
University of Zagreb

In our research project we are studying the microbiota, the bacteria and microeukaryotes that reside on the skins, carapaces and within the body of loggerhead sea turtles living in different areas of the Mediterranean Sea. I have applied to the ASSEMBLE Plus project together with my PhD student Klara Filek to visit sea turtles that are rehabilitated in the Centro Ricerche Tartarughe Marine, a part of Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn as SZN is the only institution within the consortium that provides access to these endangered marine animals.

Characterization of epizoic microbiota of loggerheads is of importance for these animals as it can provide the insight to the many aspects of the sea turtle biology including their habitat use or signal the anthropogenic impact on the marine environments. Furthermore, the changes in micro-epizoic biofilms of sea turtles kept in captivity from those in wild animals could serve as an important indication of the animal health.

Our hosts at SZN were very friendly and supportive, as well as the people in the laboratories and administrative support that we received in SZN central building. Overall, a very positive and successful experience.


Ichthyoplankton biodiversity on the Atlantic seamount condor using DNA metabarcoding

Diana Catarino
University of the Azores

"I applied to the Transnational Access program of ASSEMBLE Plus when I was on the verge of completing my PhD in population genetics and I wanted to explore other research fields as metagenetics.

ASSEMBLE Plus gave me the opportunity to access to cutting edge HTS sequencing platforms not present in my institute but available at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples (SZN) in Italy. My project focused on the ichthyoplankton biodiversity on an Atlantic seamount using DNA metabarcoding, and the main goals were to create an inventory of the ichthyoplankton for the region using DNA metabarcoding and compare the efficiency of this genetic approach with traditional methods.

The project ends up being very successful with more than 5 million sequences generated from the ichthyoplankton samples used, and to be analyzed throughout my postdoc. Publications are now being prepared in collaboration with SZN researchers. The use of the facilities together with the expertise and advice from the local team of researchers were key factors in improving the likelihood of success of this project."

Villa Comunale
80121 Napoli NA
Liaison officer: Andrea Tarallo ( ), cc to:

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