Actualia (engl.) · Conference Report

15th International Conference on the Cell & Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas

280 participants discussed latest results in Chlamydomonas research in Potsdam near Berlin, Germany (click to enlarge).

The scientists who met at the conference discussed many topics around Chlamydomonas research concerning physiology, genetic tools and biofuels, and enjoyed special lectures on flagellar functions, crystals and light perception. The Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft (DBG) supported young researchers by taking over their costs for accommodations. A congress report by Professor Dr. Maria Mittag

The 15th International Conference on the Cell & Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas was held in the Congress Hotel Potsdam, Germany, on June 5-10, 2012. Local organizers were Ralph Bock (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Potsdam-Golm, Germany), Peter Hegemann (Humboldt University Berlin, Germany) and Maria Mittag (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany) and on the USA site David Mitchell (SUNY Upstate Medical University, USA). 86 participants gave oral speeches and more than 140 participants presented their work on posters at the meeting.

The conference focused on the cell and molecular biology of the biflagellate green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This biannual conference that alternates between the USA and Europe/Japan returned to Germany after 16 years. It attracted more than 280 participants from more than 25 different countries working on different aspects of Chlamydomonas and related algae. Junior researchers were represented by about one third of the total participants.

Algal Physiology, Genetic Tools and Biofuels

The program, comprising 11 sessions and a workshop, covered a broad spectrum of topics ranging from photosynthesis, chloroplast function, light perception, circadian rhythms, cell cycle, stress response, metabolism, flagellar functions and their relation to hereditary diseases to the production of biofuels. Moreover, the development of new tools for gene expression and gene knockout strategies were intensely discussed as well as high throughput -omics methods and systems biology.

The conference was supported by the Institutions of the organizers, the DBG (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft), the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (USA) as well as by several companies (Agrisera, Analytik Jena, Jasco, Hamilton, LGC Genomics, Neolab and Walz). PhD students and postdocs (upon their applications) as well as chairs and special speakers were supported by the DBG (PhD students), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (postdocs) and the DFG (chairs and special speakers). The three best posters were selected by the chairs and awarded with prizes sponsored by Hamilton.

About Flagellar Functions, Crystals and Light

The keynote speaker, Bill Snell (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA) delighted the audience by highlighting the mechanisms of cilium-generated signaling, flagellar length control, and gamete fusion in Chlamydomonas.

The meeting also hosted two special invited lectures. They were held by scientists with outstanding contributions to their fields. These evening lectures explored the interface between research in Chlamydomonas and adjacent fields. Nathan Nelson (Tel Aviv University, Israel), famous for having determined the first high-resolution crystal structure of photosystem I (PSI), gave an outstanding lecture on the structure, function and evolution of PS I. Angela Falciatore (CNRS-UPMC, Paris, France) held an impressive lecture that highlighted her contributions in developing molecular tools and uncovering light perception in marine diatoms, major constituents of marine phytoplankton. Arthur Grossman (Carnegie Institution, Stanford University USA) held the “Fossil Lecture” traditionally given by one of the doyens of the Chlamydomonas field. It included a fascinating overview of emerging trends and technologies in the Chlamydomonas field and related areas along with reflections on his personal and scientific life.

Feedback from the conference attendees was very positive. Participants greatly enjoyed the chance to meet like-minded people from so many countries, exchange ideas and getting inspired with new ideas by the presentations and discussions, frequently resulting in novel collaborations. They also enjoyed the free afternoon and the Spree boat tour through the modern and historical Berlin.

The next international meetings on the Cell & Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas will be held 2014 in California, USA, and 2016 in Japan. Updates on Chlamydomonas meetings and related information can be found on the conference's website.

Jena, in July 2012, Professor Dr. Maria Mittag, Institut für Allgemeine Botanik und Pflanzenphysiologie,
Friedrich-Schiller University Jena