Ljudevit Luka Boštjančić

PhD student

Evolution of immunity in decapods

Freshwater crayfish, keystone species and ecosystem engineers, have a high impact on biodiversity in European freshwaters. Native crayfish populations throughout Europe are experiencing a severe decline, mainly due to the introduction of the invasive North American crayfish, vectors of the crayfish plague pathogen, Aphanomyces astaci. Exposure to the pathogen, leads to the high mortality in native European crayfish, while invasive North American crayfish are considered to be highly resistant.

In our project, we aim to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease progression in the resistant/susceptible host. We focus on two crayfish species: marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis), a highly invasive carrier of the A. astaci pathogen, and noble crayfish (Astacus astacus), an emblematic native European species. Based on the original transcriptomic framework, we aim to characterise the difference in the immune of A. astaci challenged crayfish. Based on the results of the RNAseq analysis, we further aim to characterise the course of the immune response genes expression. To complement the transcriptomic approach, we are analysing the changes in the classical immunological markers on the histological and pathophysiological level.


  • 2015-2018: Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Zagreb
  • 2018-2021: University Graduate Programme in Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb (Croatia)

Work and research experience

  • 2017-2021: Intern at the Laboratory for molecular analyses, Division of Zoology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, under the supervision of prof. Ivana Maguire, PhD
  • 2020: Erasmus+ student internship at the Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, under the supervision of Dr. Kathrin Theissinger
  • 2021: Erasmus+ student internship at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG), under the supervision of Dr. Kathrin Theissinger


  • 2018: 13th Croatian biological congress with international participation in Poreč, Croatia, poster presentation
  • 2019: 5th Students' Symposium in Biology and Life Sciences - SISB5, Zagreb, oral presentation
  • 2019: Regional European IAA meeting “IAA Gotland 2019 – Crayfish and Aquaculture”- poster presentation
  • 2019: International medical conference ZIMS, Zagreb, Croatia Workshop leader: Mutations and disease, a bioinformatics approach Tracking down Alzheimer’s


2019: Rector's award for individual scientific work (one/two authors) in natural sciences

2019-2020: City of Zagreb Scholarship for excellence

Past projects

2019-2020: Project leader of the student project founded by the University of Zagreb Student union grant, “Development of new karyotypization techniques of freshwater crayfish (family: Astacidae)”, KarioInAstacidae.


  • Lovrenčić, L., Bonassin, L., Boštjančić, L.L., Podnar, M., Jelić, M., Klobučar, G., Jaklič, M., Slavevska-Stamenković, V., Hinić, J., Maguire., I., 2020 New insights into the genetic diversity of the stone crayfish: taxonomic and conservation implications. BMC Evol. Biol. 20, 146.
  • Boštjančić, L.L., Bonassin, L., Anušić L., Lovrenčić, L., Besendorfer, V., Maguire, I., Grandjean, F., Austin, C.M., Greve, C., Hamadou A.B., Mlinarec, J., 2020, The Pontastacus leptodactylus (Astacidae) Repeatome Provides Insight Into Genome Evolution and Reveals a Remarkable Diversity of Satellite DNA. Front. Genet. 11, 611745.
  • Boštjančić, L.L., Francesconi, C., Rutz, C., Hoffbeck, L., Poidevin, L., Kress, A., Jussila, J., Makkonen, J., Feldmeyer, B., Bálint, M., Lecompte, O. and Theissinger, K., 2021. Comparative transcriptome analysis of noble crayfish and marbled crayfish immune response to Aphanomyces astaci challenges., bioRxiv, 445163 (under review).