BLAGNAC 1999 - WORKSHOP REVIEW
Other pages: workshop program, photos from Masanobu Kawachi and Brunette van Eijseldijk
Purpose and organisation of the workshop
This workshop took place some 21 months into the project. At this stage the project was manifestly progressing rapidly, with all the teams carrying out intensive research and a high level of network activity, including in the preceding few months the Lisbon cruises and network workshops in Caen, Bremen and NIOZ. Consequently the prime objective of this workshop was to review activity and make sure it was well focussed toward our objectives. The workshop program was devised with this in mind and the main focus was a series of sessions dealing with the three project Work Areas: Evolutionary Biodiversity; Microevolution and Species Concepts; Coccolithophorid Ecology. The format in each case was a keynote lecture, a review talk on our progress and a workshop session. In each case we left confident that the project was making very substantial progress and useful plans were laid for improving the co-ordination of our work. In addition to these sessions there was an opening session when each of the post-docs presented the results of their work over the past year; training sessions on cladistics and on molecular genetics and a several research talks by collaborators from outside the main teams. The latter proved timely since at this stage of network development the nature of the research being carried out was clear but there is also time for new collaborations to develop. a notable outcome was that the planning of a European-Japanese workshop on coccolithophorid research to held in Tsukuba to investigate the potential for collaboration between CODENET and Japanese scientists working in similar fields.
Some thirty scientists attended the workshop including all seven young visiting researchers (YVRs), almost all the scientists-in-charge and one or two other representatives from most teams. Extra participants from outside the main research teams included: Mary-Hélène Noël and Masanobu Kawachi (National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan), Karl-Heinz Baumann, Claudia Sprengel and Babette Boeckel (Univ. of Bremen), Rienk de Jong (Natural History Museum Leiden), Karin Zonneveld and Britta Karwath (Environmental Biology Division, Univ. of Bremen), Elisa Malinverno (Dept. of Earth Sciences, Univ. of Milan) and Heather Stoll (Univ. of Oviedo) .
In terms of nationality the representation was 4 Dutch, 9 Germans, 2 Italians, 3 Spanish, 3 French, 2 Swiss, 2 Portuguese, 3 British, 1 Japanese and 1 American. Moreover, as many people are working outside their country of origin the situation was actually even more cosmopolitan.
Organisation and thanks
As before a major part of the success of the meeting was due to the wonderful venue, Chateau de Blagnac. This provided the space and quiet to allow us to escape from the normal pressures of scientific life and to exchange ideas in an unpressured environment. We are very grateful to Jan and Dorine van Hinte for allowing us to use their home and for looking after us so well - with the enthusiastic help of Hanno, Nellie and Brunette. Planning and organisation of the scientific sessions was carried out by Patrizia Ziveri and Jan van Hinte, ensuring that some rather vague ideas from Jeremy Young were converted into a well organised and effective meeting. As usual no-one left Blagnac without looking forward to returning.
Summary of Presentations and Notes on Progress of the Project
As explained above the workshop was primarily arranged by work area, so as to maximise focus on objectives. These notes reflect this, for each work area I have briefly summarised the presentations given and workshop topics. For almost all talks details can be found in the extended abstracts and hopefully these paragraphs will provide a guide to the connections between the abstracts. In addition I have briefly reviewed the progress of the project in each work area and some of the plans for future work
. but there are sure to be omissions, the project is moving too fast for anyone to have a total overview.
(N.B. Extended abstracts - a volume of extended abstracts is being produced and should be available in early 2000).
Work Area 1 Evolutionary Biodiversity, Saturday 4th Sept.
The session opened with a keynote lecture from Katharina von Salis (ETH) giving an overview of information on evolutionary diversification of the coccolithophorids from the geological record. Jeremy Young then reviewed progress in the CODENET project, focusing on the importance of the new work on life -cycle and its implications for other aspects of our work. The main workshop session focussed on the various research tasks studying evolutionary biodiversity (i.e. diversity in key aspects of coccolithophorid biology) based on culture studies, including development of molecular genetic studies, study of species beyond the 6 CODENET taxa and development of the culture collection. A smaller workshop was held later on priorities for re-assessment of the fossil record. These sessions were complimented by workshop training sessions on Cladistics given by Rienk de Jong and on Molecular Genetics given by Volker Huss and Alberto Saez. Finally, relevant presentations were given by many speakers in the general session(Friday): including Alberto Saez on coccolithophorid genome size; Hanno Kinkel on biomarkers; Ian Probert on cytological work; and Masanobu Kawachi on 18SrRNA based phylogenetic analysis of Haptophytes.
From this set of talks and workshops it was clear that much progress is being made with important new results in a number of areas. Moreover, even if interactions are largely informal they are real and effective. Numerous teams are collaborating in the isolation and maintenance of cultures and these are being distributed as needed. Results are being openly discussed and shared prior to publication which is allowing the broader pictures to develop rapidly - for instance through sharing of results on heterococcolith -holococcolith combinations and from molecular genetic work. Expertise and ideas are being exchanged freely.
Priorities identified for work over the next year included. Using C. pelagicus to test the hypothesis that heterococcolith stages are diploid and holococcolith stages haploid. Develop a standard set of cultures of species beyond the 6 keynote spp. for analysis by techniques which can rapidly be applied to large numbers of spp. Start cladistic analysis of coccolithophorid biodiversity. Study pigment diversity across coccolithophorids. Develop 18sRNA tree toward publication. Concentrate culture isolation work on obtaining cultures of Syracosphaera pulchra, Helicosphaera carteri and small Calcidiscus.
Work Area 2 Microevolution and Species Concepts, Monday 6th Sept.
This session started with an extended talk by Babette Boeckel on the work of the Bremen group including morphometric study of modern and fossil populations of Helicosphaera, Calcidiscus, Umbilicosphaera and Syracosphaera. Jeremy Young then gave an overview of progress in this work area, highlighting the results of the workshop on Coccolithus variability held in Bremen in February, where synthesis of disparate data from several participants had resulted in recognition that two discrete sub-species almost certainly existed, with a smaller sub-Arctic and larger temperate form.
As with the other work areas related talks had been given in the general session. Markus Geisen described his work on S. pulchra, U. sibogae and. H. carteri. Sabrina Renaud summarised the complex patterns of Calcidiscus variation shown in culture, plankton and Holocene samples. Christine Klaas described detailed work on Gephyrocapsa variations in culture.
For the workshop session two sub-groups formed. One group discussed the special study of Gephyrocapsa variation, were multiple approaches are being focussed on study of variation in a large (ca. 200) set of cultures. The other group consisted of several different teams all working on study of morphological variation in the three species U. sibogae, H. carteri and S. pulchra. This group concentrated on plans for sharing data to allow effective research in this large research area and on protocols for describing variation in Helicosphaera (see extended abstract of M. Geisen).
Short notes on progress by taxa. Gephyrocapsa. A very large collection of cultures, ca 200 strains, has been isolated, primarily to allow molecular genetic analysis of genetic variability. This will be a major focus of Alberto Saez' work in 2000. Parallel work on alkenone and pigment variability is planned by Hanno Kinkel and Kees van Lenning, on sub-sets of the total sample collection. Detailed work on morphometric variation in cultures is nearing completion at ETH (see abstract of Christine Klaas) and future work is planned to concentrate on Quaternary samples. No holococcoliths since haploid phase is non-calcifying (cf. E. huxleyi)
Calcidiscus leptoporus ca 10 strains have been isolated, although of a limited range of morphotypes, in addition the probably closely species Oolithotus fragilis has now been isolated (MATER 2 cruise). As with Gephyrocapsa the ETH work on variation in culture is nearly completed (see abstract of Sabrina Renaud) and future studies will focus on Quaternary variation. Complimentary work is being carried out in Bremen. Holococcoliths are Calcidiscus rigidus (observations of Kleijne 199x have been confirmed by Cortes in press)
Coccolithus pelagicus. ca. 35 strains isolated including both holococcolith and heterococcolith phases (some HE -> HO transitions have occurred in culture). Following recognition that Sub-arctic and temperate populations are probably distinct the sub-Arctic strains were obtained during fieldwork in Iceland. Size variation studies are being carried out co-operatively by the Lisbon, NHM, VUA, and Bremen groups.
Helicosphaera carteri. No strains had been successfully isolated at the time of the Blagnac meeting, subsequently strain were isolated from samples collected in Japan (collaborative work with Tsukuba group), the success of these cultures is not yet certain. Morphological variation is being studied by the NHM, VUA, CSIC and Bremen groups (see abstracts of Babette Boeckel & Markus Geisen). Both heterococcoliths ad holococcoliths (Syracolithus "spp") show significant variation but it is unclear how far this is genetically controlled.
Syracosphaera pulchra. No strains had been successfully isolated at the time of the Blagnac meeting, subsequently a strain of the holococcolith phase has been isolated. Morphological variation is being studied by the NHM, VUA, CSIC and Bremen groups (see abstracts of Babette Boeckel & Markus Geisen). Heterococcoliths do not seem to show significant variation but holococcoliths do (Calyptrosphaera oblonga vs. Dactylethra pirus).
Umbilicosphaera sibogae. ca 10 strains isolated including both U. s. sibogae and U. s. foliosa. Morphological variation is being extensively studied by the NHM, VUA, and Bremen groups with special emphasis on evolutionary origins. (see abstracts of Babette Boeckel & Markus Geisen). No data yet available on life cycles/holococcolith phase.
Work Area 3 Coccolithophorid ecology, Sunday 5th Sept.
This session opened with a series of research/review talks. Gerald Ganssen and Patrizia Ziveri described new work on study of stable isotopes in extant coccolithophorids in order to calibrate their use as palaeoproxies. Gerard Versteegh described equivalent studies on lipids. Karin Zonneveld gave an overview of the work being done by the Bremen group on calcareous dinocyst ecology, a project with many parallels to CODENET. Lluisa Cros described the distribution of coccolithophorids from her studies of the Western Mediterranean, particularly focussed on evidence for the ecological significance of holococcolith-heterococcolith life-cycles. Marta Estrada described statistical studies on the ecological interactions of coccolithophorids and other phytoplankton.
Several further talks related to this work area had been given during the general session. Kees van Lenning described his haptophyte pigment studies, especially analysis of pigment and nutrient data from the CODENET 2 cruise. Hanno Kinkel discussed use and calibration of the alkenone palaeothermometer. Mario Cachao explained the potential of coccolith-coccosphere ratios as a source of information on the recent development of instantaneously sampled assemblages. Mari-Helene Noel described experimental studies of E. huxleyi growth rates and optics. Heather Stoll gave an overview of her work on testing the potential of Sr/Ca ratios as palaeoproxy of growth rates.
The workshop session was primarily focussed on the Lisbon CODENET 2 Cruise. The state of studies on the data from the cruise were reviewed. Preliminary count data was presented and discussed. Plans were made for integration and publication of the results - in particular it was agreed that basic data collection should be completed in time for the January meeting in London (preceding the Mid Term Review). Possible future cruise options were discussed. There was string consensus that the cruise had been remarkably successful and that the format of actualistic testing of several palaeoproxies in parallel with biological studies was an effective and innovative approach to cruisework.
The status of culture studies of physiological ecology was briefly discussed during the workshop and more extensively afterwards. The situation is worth briefly summarising. Christine Klaas and Sabrina Renaud (ETH) are nearing completion of a series of experiments on the effect of temperature variation on Gephyrocapsa oceanica and Calcidiscusleproporus. Kees van Lenning (CISC) and Hanno Kinkel (NIOZ) have joint experiment s planned particularly on the effects of light level. Ian Probert (Caen) will be carrying out, with a student, experiments with growth of C. pelagicus under widely varying culture conditions, particularly to attempt to understand which factors prompt phase changes but also to study physiological effects. Markus Geisen and Jeremy Young (NHM) will be using a light temperature cross-gradient cabinet to study the effect of these parameters on growth rate and coccolith morphology in C. pelagicus and U, sibogae. The C. pelagicus work will be carried out with students seconded from Lisbon
Finally it should be noted that, although not presented in detail, further work is being carried out on synthesis of biogeographic data (primarily at VUA) and on diverse data sets from sediment traps, cruises and geological sample sets. thus whilst palaeoproxy testing and culture studies are perhaps the main foci of ecological work the multiple approach is progressing well.