1. Interactions of algae with microbes and grazers in present and future oceans

  • Convenor: Dr. Mahasweta Saha (GEOMAR / University of Essex)
  • Topic: Marine macrophytes and phytoplankton are dominant in marine ecosystems worldwide. They are ecosystem engineers, provide ecologically valuable services, are the dominant primary producers and form the base of food webs. However, phytoplankton and macrophytes are not single entities and form intimate relationship with microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses. These interactions in turn influence carbon and nutrient cycling, regulate the productivity and stability of aquatic food webs, and affect ocean–atmosphere fluxes of climatically relevant gases. Along with microbes, algae-herbivore interaction in an important biotic factor that can change algal biomass, abundance and distribution.
    Rapid climate change globally (rising temperature, acidification) and regionally (hypoxia, desalination) poses a major threat and can potentially modify such interactions. In this session we invite contributions from algal biologists and chemical ecologists to bring diverse expertise, techniques and new perspectives into the field of algae-microbe and algae-herbivore interactions. We encourage submissions from field, laboratory, mesocosm studies that offer new insights into the functioning of algae-microbe and algae-herbivore interactions under present and predicted future ocean conditions.
  • Invited speakers:
    Dr. Daniela Schatz (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
    Title: “Message in a bubble – communication via extracellular vesicles shapes algal bloom dynamics”
    Dr. Patrick Fink (University of Cologne, Germany)
    Title: “The chemical ecology of algae-herbivore interactions in changing oceans”

2. Algal physiology in the limelight

  • Convenor: Prof. Mikhail Zubkov (Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK).
  • Topic: This session will explore why we still require to study algal physiology in the –omics eon. Once we know their living needs, algae can teach us how to interpret their remnants preserved in sediments. Once we know their nutrition, algae can teach us how to nurture temporary organelles (kleptoplasts). Once we know how algae look after such organelles, we could mimic that in future aquaculture and biotechnologies as well as use this knowledge to explain chloroplast evolution. Other physiological case studies are welcome, for example on the variety of ecological functions, facultative or unusual nutrition strategies of dinoflagellates and other protists. Applied contributions, for example on harmful algal blooms are also encouraged.
  • Invited speakers: 
    Dr. Vera Pospelova (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Canada).
    Title: “Applications of dinoflagellate cysts in (paleo)environmental studies”.
    Prof. Per Juel Hansen (Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen, Denmark).
    Title: “Non-constitutive planktonic mixotrophs – functional biology and physiology”.


3. Blue Carbon: the Role of Phytoplankton in Long-term Carbon Burial

    • Convenors: Prof. Suzanne McGowan (University of Nottingham, UK) & Prof. Laurence Carvalho (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh, UK)
    • Topic: Algal communities may form a significant component of long-term C burial in deep freshwater lakes and marine systems. Algae contribute to this globally important biogeochemical sink through a chain of ecological processes from C uptake and assimilation, to sedimentation, mineralisation rates and long-term preservation. Whilst biogeochemical estimates of rates of C fixation in marine and freshwater systems are relatively well constrained, less is known of how different phytoplankton functional types and their constituent traits influence C burial. Phytoplankton communities in aquatic ecosystems are highly susceptible to environmental change; notably shifts in stratification patterns associated with climate warming and changing nutrient loads and stoichiometry have profoundly altered seasonal succession and community composition of many lakes and coastal waters. Understanding how changes in phytoplankton functional types interact with physicochemical properties of water bodies to influence longer-term sinking, mineralization and C burial will require collaborations spanning algal physiology and ecology, ecosystem science and biogeochemistry using a variety of methodological approaches from experimental assays to palaeoecology. This session will focus on the role of phytoplankton as engineers of C capture and burial, examining the unifying processes which are common to marine and freshwater systems. The session aims to bring freshwater and marine algologists together to share knowledge, understanding and methodologies to further our mutual understanding and identify the knowledge gaps for future research priorities.
    • Invited speakers:
      Prof. Peter R. Leavitt (University of Regina, Canada):
      Title: “Factors regulating the role of phytoplankton as vectors of carbon sequestration in lake sediments”.
      Dr. Erika Whiteford (Nottingham Trent University, UK):
      Title: “The ecology of Artic algae and links to carbon cycling”.