Seeing the Invisible: How Sequencing Diverse Eukaryotes Transforms Ocean Science

Friday, 13 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 210G (San Jose Convention Center)
Imaging microbial cells is one of the great challenges of biology. In the oceans, many microbial eukaryotes remain uncultured but can be “visualized” through DNA and RNA sequence data. However, this type of genomic data can be difficult to attain because protists have large genomes (some larger than human), they are diverse, and the environment they inhabit is complex. Innovations for attaining such information, e.g. via transcriptomics, are transforming the field of microbial oceanography. Researchers are gaining fundamental new insights to the diverse photosynthetic eukaryotes that perform a massive amount of global carbon dioxide uptake. This session will first explore coral reefs with a focus on the coral symbionts that make these such productive environments -- organisms that also shed light on the origins of parasites such as Plasmodium, which causes the disease malaria. The next presentation will move to surface ocean environments, focusing on abundant, free-living unicellular phytoplankton. There has been a  tremendous expansion of knowledge on diatoms, algae that live within siliceous houses and yet maintain close interactions with the many bacterial taxa that live around them. The final presentation will investigate how sequencing innovations are informing discoveries on how phytoplankton navigate dynamic marine systems -- and on the origins of land plants. Collectively, these studies are reshaping understanding of photosynthetic processes, microbial interactions, and marine ecology.

Alexandra Z. Worden, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Jian Guo, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Adam Monier, University of Exeter
E. Virginia Armbrust, University of Washington
Hidden Worlds: Biodiversity of Marine Microbes
Alexandra Z. Worden, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Sensing Your Surroundings: How Tiny Algae Respond to Environmental Cues