UW News

July 1, 2015

International meeting on the inner life of ocean diatoms

UW News

mosaic made out of different shaped diatomsA meeting on campus the week of July 7, “Molecular Life of Diatoms 2015” will bring together leading experts on diatoms—the same type of drifting algae now causing a huge harmful algal bloom off the West Coast—to discuss the perils and promise of these microscopic algae that live throughout the world’s oceans.

A dazzling variety of diatom species help to cycle oxygen, carbon and energy for life on Earth. Advances in genetics and new knowledge of the genetics of particular diatoms, together with resources from modern oceanography and materials science, are providing new opportunities to understand diatom biology and ecology and to exploit them for biofuels and nanotechnology.

Recent UW research showed that diatoms grow better in the company of certain marine bacteria, and discovered a genetic switch that lets diatoms do less work at higher CO2.

The meeting to be held July 7-10 in the UW’s Kane Hall will be a forum to share the most recent research, establish new collaborations, and open up novel directions to fully harness the enormous potential of these fascinating organisms. UW oceanographers Virginia Armbrust and Micaela Parker are helping to host the event, which will include 170 diatom scientists from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, U.K., Ireland, Israel, Japan, China and Taiwan. See here for a full speakers’ list.