Scientific Sessions

There are five confirmed specialist sessions & two general sessions

 1. The role of mitochondria in environmental adaptation of aquatic invertebrates

Organizers: Doris Abele, Pierre Blier

Keynote Speakers: Profs Marco Passamonti and Sophie Breton

Mitochondrial functioning is central to animal fitness and environmental adaptation. Suboptimal mitochondrial function usually results in reduced ATP production, as well as enhanced formation of mitochondrial ROS (reactive oxygen species). Coordinated evolution of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes ensures proper performance of the mitochondrial enzymatic machinery and is therefore an imperative prerequisite for animal fitness. Catalytic functions of mitochondrially (mtDNA) encoded proteins from the Electron Transport System (ETS) or the ATP synthase complex are important in the evolutionary adaptation of aquatic ectotherms to extreme and variable environmental conditions e.g., changing temperatures or oxygen levels, or occurrence of mitochondrial inhibitors such as H2S.

In this session we want to explore the role of marine invertebrate mitochondria/ETS components for the adaptive capacity of species/populations, through adjustments of mitochondrial functions.

This includes comparative and evolutionary approaches, putting into perspective populations with divergent mtDNA sequences, or related species connected through a common mtDNA ancestor. Furthermore, we would like to discuss the role of gender associated versions of the mtDNA (male and female) in sex determination in bivalve families with doubly uniparental mechanisms of mtDNA inheritance (DUI). This includes understanding the mechanisms of transmission of M and F-type genomes and how selection operates on the evolution of each genome type. Importantly, we would like to address the question of the ecological and physiological differences between divergent mtDNA-type carrying cells.

2. Parental and generational determinants of resilience to environmental change

Organizers: Simon Morley, Doris Abele

Invited Speaker: Coleen Suckling, Bangor University

To predict how individuals, populations and species will be impacted by climate change relies on a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms underlying their physiological capacities. Much research has focused on physio-geographic patterns that inform how experienced environmental conditions have shaped the evolution of physiological plasticity and tolerance. The majority of this knowledge is based on the physiology of adults whereas other life history stages may be the more vulnerable, and drive species distributions.

It is increasingly recognized that the environment experienced by adults during embryo development can affect larval phenotype that can persist into adulthood and across subsequent generations – trans-generational plasticity. There are a wide range of mechanisms that can lead to trans-generational phenotypic adjustment, such as non-genetic inheritance and epigenetics. This symposium will focus on our understanding of the relative importance of parental and generational determinants of species resilience to environmental change.

 3. Larval physiology

Organizer: Rejean Tremblay

Key note speaker : Prof Frédéric Olivier

The majority of invertebrate aquatic organisms have a pelagic larval cycle followed by a benthic life characterized by important tissue and morphological changes. This metamorphosis is characterized by the key development of tissues adapted to their new habitat. The physiological mechanisms governing the success of larval development and recruitment are important both in ecology, to understand the structure of benthic communities and in aquaculture to increase productivity and supply of juveniles. Recent works from several laboratories around the world, show the extraordinary plasticity of this larval development phase with metamorphosis being delayed for a period that may exceed normal larval development. As, larvae and young post-larvae are generally the most sensitive life’s stage to environmental variations, their adaptive physiological mechanisms are crucial for the success of these populations, especially in a context of global change.

In this session, contribution exploring physiological aspect of larval development will be presented to increase our understanding of the plasticity of the recruitment process and the physiological and genetic basis of the diversity observed. We expect to develop an interdisciplinary session from molecular biologists to the ecologists on the thematic of recruitment success of aquatic invertebrates.

4. Technological advances in physiological studies of aquatic invertebrates: from culture to the field

Organizers: Antonio Figueras and Pierre Boudry

Aquaculture is growing in global importance as human populations have an ever increasing demand for  aquatic products. To achieve economically succesful farming of healthy animals with a minimal environmental impact, we need to improve growth rates, feeding efficiency, reproduction and diminish loses caused by disease. Biotechnology can help achieve these results. The development and use of genomic and bioinformatic tools allow the study of different processes that can influence aquaculture. Transcriptomes, microarrays, and  Next  Generation sequencing of entire genomes are now available for almost all species with economic interest. They allow the study of gene expression in mono- or interdisciplinary experiments increasing the knowledge, among other fields, of diseases, immunology, reproduction, growth and development, nutrition and genetics. All of these aspects are pertinent to industrial production processes. What is the next frontier? What will happen when on top of genetically manipulated organisms, genome edited organisms are developed for aquaculture? How will these techniques and this knowledge be  transferred to industrial production?

On the other hand most of this knowledge and these techniques have an application to environmental sciences that might be overlooked. What has been the impact of technological advances on biodiversity, ecology, global change research and policy making?

5. Physiological and biochemical processes of chemically mediated interactions between organisms

Organizers: Markus Molis, Horacio Heras

Key note speaker: Prof Baldomero Olivera

The importance of defense, attack and informative chemicals in the interactions between organisms is becoming increasingly apparent. At the molecular level, isolation and characterization of chemicals from aquatic organisms is rapidly growing, while new tools allow a more detailed insight into the cellular responses (e.g. genomics, proteomics or metabolomics, receptor/ligand interaction) that underlie chemically mediated interactions. At the organism level, our mechanistic understanding of how organisms perceive, process and use chemicals as defences (e.g. toxins) or semio-chemicals (e.g. pheromones, kairomones, allomones etc.) has gained from studying aspects of chemical ecology dealing with the physiological processes involved (e.g. sequestration, regulation of biosynthesis, digestion, sensory transduction) that come along with trait change. Furthermore, the adaptive value of chemically mediated trait change within organism lifetime (e.g. plastic behaviour, induced defences) or across generations (e.g. heritability of plasticity, diversification) spurs current research of ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Chemical cues influence through e.g. eavesdropping or risk assessment, magnitude and direction of species interactions, thereby altering structure and functioning of higher levels of ecological organization.

This session welcomes contributions exploring these aspects from the level of molecules up to that of communities, with a strong emphasis on the biochemical and physiological responses of freshwater and marine organisms to chemical cues that will deepen our understanding about ecological consequences of and evolution in adaptive traits. We expect to bring together ecologists, evolutionary biologists, physiologists, molecular biologists and (bio)chemists on a topic that is increasingly gaining importance.

General Sessions:

A. Reproduction 

Organizer: Laura Grange

 B. Bioenergetics, growth and resilience

Organizers: Zoë Hilton,  Rose Stainthorp