People > Dr Mahasweta Saha

Dr Mahasweta Saha

Marine Chemical Ecologist

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


I am a chemical ecologist with a passion to investigate ‘language of life’ in our oceans. Over the years I have developed an expertise in investigating chemically mediated communication between seaweeds and microbes under present and future oceans i.e. climate change stressors.

I completed my PhD in Algal Chemical Ecology at Helmholtz Centre of Ocean Research (GEOMAR) with an international fellowship. Following the completion of my PhD and a family care break, I was awarded an international research grant from the DFG excellence cluster ‘Future Ocean’ to work on chemical ecology of invasive seaweeds at GEOMAR. During that time, I was awarded an international research fellowship to pursue my next research project on volatile info-chemistry of seaweeds at University of Essex, United Kingdom. This was followed by a one year research scientist position (80% FT) at GEOMAR before I joined PML.

I am an Associate Editor of 3 international journals including high ranking journals like Journal of Ecology. Additionally, I am leading the guest editing of a special topic for Frontiers in Marine Science. I am a reviewer for 12 peer-reviewed journals and sit on the grant review board of the British Ecological Society (BES) and British Phycological Society (BPS). I have been the main convenor of sessions in 4 international conferences and also jointly organised the BPS 2020 meeting. I am also an active science communicator across a variety of media and have extensive experience in successful communication of scientific ideas and results to the public.

I am committed to the development of the next generation of scientists, as supervisor and mentor to undergraduate/postgraduate students and have supervised/co-supervised over 30 students to date. If you are interested to do an internship/undergraduate/Master/PhD project, feel free to contact me.

My research interests include:

  • Fouling and anti-fouling
  • Dynamics in chemically mediated interactions under fluctuations of biotic and abiotic factors
  • Chemical ecology of invasive seaweeds
  • Marine trace gases: chemical ecology and atmospheric chemistry
  • Seaweed pathogen interactions
  • Macrophytes under climate change

Other key projects

As PI:
  • Chemical ecology of host-pathogen interaction
  • Anti-fouling defence dynamics of a foundation seaweed from high and low latitude populations (AFODS)
  • Do volatile info-chemicals from seaweed holobionts mediate seaweed-epibacteria interactions?
  • The smell of seaweeds and their ‘second skin’
  • Characterizing and investigating the morphogen role of volatile metabolome of Ulva mutabilis epibacteria
  • Adaptation and co-evolution of fouling resistance: the driver of algal invasion success?
  • Anti-settlement defence of Fucus vesiculosus: Chemistry and Ecology 
As Co-PI:
  • Unravelling the genetic and ecological mechanisms of successful bio-invasion
  • Perception of beach wrack by beach users
  • Seasonality in antifouling defence of the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus

Selected key publications

*Corresponding author #Graduate student

Other activities

  • Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers for Young Minds
  • Guest Associate Editor, Frontiers in Marine Science
  • Reviewer for 10 peer-reviewed journals: Ecological Applications, Science of the Total Environment, Molecules, Biofouling, Marine Environmental Research, Estuaries and Coasts, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Marine Biology, Botanica Marina, Scientia Marina
  • British Ecological Society review college board
  • British Phycological Society council member
  • Local organising committee of British Phycological Society Meeting, Plymouth, 6-9th January 2020
  • Convenor and Organizer of the session Language of life under climate change. ISCE 35th Annual Meeting, 2-7 January, 2019, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
  • Convenor and Organizer of the session "Interactions of algae with microbes and grazers in present and future oceans". BPS 67th Annual Meeting, 7-10 January, 2019, Oban, Scotland
  • Lead Convenor and Organizer of the session "Benthic and pelagic system responses in a changing ocean: From genes to ecosystem level functioning". 4th International Symposium on Effects of Climate Change on World Oceans, 4-8 June, 2018 in Washington D.C., U.S.A.
  • Convenor and Organizer of the session "Chemical communication among aquatic organisms – challenged by global environmental changes?" ASLO-SFS meeting, Madison, 7-12th June 2020
  • Convenor and Organizer of the session "Impact of climate change on marine and freshwater algae" British Phycological Society Meeting, Plymouth, 6-9th January 2020
  • PML Athena Swan Committee member
  • British Ecological Society Mentor