Skip to Content

Conference: The molecular life of diatoms (Paris, 25-28 June 2013)

EUR-OCEANS organisation / funding

Note: EOC co-funded this conference (targeting the organization of a session of particular relevance to EOC scientists) after its March 2012 call for projects.

Overview (excerpts from conference website)

Rapid progress in genomics and molecular genetics in selected model diatoms, together with the novel resources derived from modern oceanography and materials science are providing new opportunities to understand diatom biology and ecology, and to exploit them for biofuels and nanotechnology. This EMBO Workshop aims to be a platform to share the most recent research, establish new collaborations, and open up novel directions to fully harness the enormous potential of these fascinating organisms.

Diatoms are of great interest in a wide variety of areas ranging from oceanography to materials science. They are arguably the most species-rich group of algae, have conquered most aquatic habitats, and play a major role in marine and aquatic ecosystems. They have a complex evolutionary history, an unusual mode of cell division, and many species can stick to virtually any surface and move along by gliding. The most spectacular features of diatoms are their intricately structured silica-based cell walls, which exhibit an amazing variety of shapes and patterns. Diatom silica has very interesting physical properties, and is the envy of nanotechnologists as a 3D nanopatterned material produced from the bottom-up through self-assembly. Ancient diatom biomass was a major contributor to fossil fuels, and today’s diatoms are investigated as a source for renewable, carbon-neutral fuels for the future, as well as other applications in bio-, nano- and environmental technology. Despite the global importance of diatoms and their extraordinary metabolic and cellular capabilities, they have received little attention from molecular biologists. Recently, this has drastically changed due to emerging insights from diatom genome projects, and substantial progress in genetic manipulation of diatoms.

Currently the diatom molecular community is experiencing a step change in understanding of this globally important group of organisms. Most members of the molecular diatom community are well connected and apply cross-disciplinary research approaches dedicated to studying the molecular foundations of all aspects of diatom biology, ecology and biotechnology. The significance and tractability of molecular diatom research have attracted many new scientists to the field over the last few years. Thus, the community is rapidly expanding and there are certainly many similarities to the early days of the Arabidopsis community in the 1990s. Growing international and interdisciplinary interest led to the first Molecular Life of Diatoms conference in 2011 in Atlanta (GA, USA ), which was a great success. The conference in Paris in 2013, together with subsequent conferences (Seattle (WA, USA) 2015, Norwich (UK) 2017), will explore research using diatoms as model systems in cell biology, evolution, ecology, nanotechnology and biotechnology that take advantage of sophisticated novel molecular tools to manipulate the diatom cell. It will serve as a platform to share the most recent research findings, establish new collaborations, and open up novel research directions to fully harness the tremendous potential of these fascinating organisms.

Topics will include:

  • Cell biology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Evolution
  • Physiology

The total number of participants is limited to 120 + 10 participants from the private sector.

Registration & abstract submission deadlines: 31 March 2013

Please refer to the conference website for details.

Activity leader(s): 
Angela Falciatore (Université Pierre et Marie Curie); Chris Bowler (Institut de biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure); Jacques Livage (Collège de France); Thomas Mock (University of East Anglia)
Collège de France, Paris, France
Financial support: 
5 k€ co-funding from EOC (targeted to the organization of one session); funding for PhD students and early post-docs available through organizers
Start date: 
End date: 
Abstract submission deadline: 
Registration deadline: 

activities | about seo