Algal model systems on the rise

Speakers

Charles F. Delwiche

Charles F. Delwiche
Professor, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, USA

Talk title:Assembling the Embryophyte Form: the Evolution of Basal Streptophytes

The origin of land plants remains mysterious, in large part because of  relative paucity of fossils of appropriate age. This is not entirely  coincidence, because the evolution of land plants altered fossilization  itself. However, ongoing paleontological work combined with new  insights from comparative genomics is permitting a more precise  understanding of early land plants to emerge from the mists of time. I  will discuss recent advances in algal genomics and transcriptomics and  their implications for our understanding of the origin of land plants.

Biography:

Charles Delwiche is Professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1984 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1990, both in Botany. After postdoctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin and Indiana University, he joined the Maryland faculty in 1996 as an Assistant Professor. He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, received the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Young Investigator Award for Molecular Studies of Evolution, and the Botanical Society of America Darbaker Award for Studies of Microalgae. His research uses comparative genomic methods to investigate the early history of the evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes, with special reference to the evolution of chloroplasts in dinoflagellates and the origin of a terrestrial flora.


Pierre-Marc Delaux

PM Delaux

Researcher; Université de Toulouse, CNRS, France

Talk synopsis:

Land plants associate with multiple beneficial microbes. Plant gene networks tightly regulate these associations. I will present how we study the evolution of these genes and of the networks themselves.

Biography:

PhD from the University of Toulouse, France in 2011 on the evolution of the plant hormone strigolactones. From 2011 to 2014, Postdoc in Dr. JM Ané’s lab (University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA) on nitrogen-fixation in cereals and from 2014 to 2015 in Dr. Giles Oldroyd’s lab (John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK) where I developed a model liverworts (Marchantia paleacea) including synthetic biology tools with Guru Radhakrishnan. Since 2015, CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire de Recherche en Science Végétales in Toulouse. My group is working on the evolution of beneficial plant – microbe associations using phylogenomics and genetics in multiple plant species.


David Domozych

David Domozych

Professor of Biology and Director of the Skidmore Microscopy Imaging Center; Skidmore College, USA

Talk title: Fifty shades of green: the secret life of the charophyte, Penium margaritaceum

The extracellular matrices of charophytes are extensive and highly complex. Their synthesis and secretion require coordinated interactions of a prolific endomembrane system and cytoskeletal network that often modulate significantly in response to stress. The cell biology of extracellular matrix synthesis of the unicellular desmid, Penium margaritaceum, will be presented with a focus on glycomics and the putative roles of matrix components in the evolution of land plants.

Biography:

David Domozych is Professor of Biology and Director of the Skidmore Microscopy Imaging Center at Skidmore College. He received his PhD in Phycology at Miami University in Ohio and was a post-doctoral associate at the Section of Plant Biology of Cornell University. Domozych has also held positions as Visiting Scholar/Professor at the John Innes Center in Norwich, England, the National University of Ireland-Galway and Cornell University. His research focuses on the cell walls and secretory dynamics of charophytes with a special emphasis on cell wall polymer modulations in response to stress.


Zoë Popper 

Zoe Popper

Principal Investigator and Lecturer; National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland

Talk synopsis:

Polysaccharide-rich cell walls surround most plant and algae cells and perform many essential functions. Their precise composition has been shown to depend on species and cell-type, and is impacted by the environment.  To gain insight into plants transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial habitat, we have been investigating the wall properties of a range of plants and algae.

Biography:

Zoë Popper has been a principal investigator and lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway since 2006. She did her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, followed by postdoctoral positions at the University of Edinburgh and the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center at the University of Athens, Georgia (USA) before moving to Ireland. Research in her group is focused on understanding the role of polysaccharide-rich cell walls in plant and algal physiology and evolution.


Stefan Rensing

Stefan Rensing

Professor; University of Marburg, Germany

Talk Title: How the genomes of flagellate plants inform our understanding of land plant evolution

I will talk about how genomic data of flagellated plants (such as streptophyte algae, mosses, liverworts, hornworts) informs our understanding of plant evolution. I will point out highlights from the comparative analyses of the moss Physcomitrella and the alga Chara.

Biography:

Stefan Rensing studied biology in Freiburg, Germany. 1999 he started to work as a postdoc on the model moss, Physcomitrella patens. Since 2007 he is a group leader, since 2012 a professor of plant cell biology at the University of Marburg. His research focus is the early evolution of plants that he tackles with methods of comparative and functional genomics, using non-seed (flagellated or spore) plants.


Hiroyuki Sekimoto

Hiroyuki Sekimoto

Professor; Japan Women's University, Japan

Talk Title: The mechanism of mating type determination in heterothallic strains of Closterium peracerosum-strigosum-littorale complex, a new model organism to study sexual reproduction in streptophytes

We will reveal the physiological functions of genes whose expression is tightly linked to the sexual reproduction of unicellular charophycean alga, Closterium, by using newly established CRISPR/Cas9 system. 

Biography:

Professor Hiroyuki Sekimoto received his Ph.D. (Science) in 1993 from the University of Tsukuba. He served the University of Tokyo in 1997 as an assistant professor. He then served the Japan Women’s University (JWU) in 2005 as an associate professor and promoted to a professor in 2011.
His greatest interest is in sexual reproduction of Closterium, which is one of the model unicellular charophycean algae. He developed the genetic transformation system of the Closterium. He is now comparing the whole genome information of the Closterium with those of land plants and other charophycean algae.


Burkhard Becker

Burkhard Becker

Professor; University of Cologne, Germany

Talk Title: Desiccation tolerance in streptophyte algae and the algae to land plant transition

My talk will focus on evolutionary aspects of desiccation tolerance in green streptophytes using Zygnema and Klebsormidium as experimental model system. It will include recent results in model system development (transformation system) for streptophyte algae (Zygnema, Mougeotia, Coleochaete, Spirogyra and Klebsormidium)

Biography:

I started my research career in algal cell biology. I was fascinated by the production of algal scales in the Golgi complex of scaly green flagellates. I have worked for several years on the mechanism of intra-Golgi transport and the secretory pathway of scaly green flagellates.Through these studies, the cisternal maturation model of intra-Golgi transport was revived (Becker et al. 1995). However, over the years I have become more and more interested in the cell biological, physiological and ecological aspects of the evolution of the embryophyte plant cell from a freshwater green flagellate (Marin and Becker 2009, Wodniok et al. 2011, Becker 2013). These interests have led to my current major research topics: Osmoregulation and desiccation tolerance in green algae. As molecular tools and genetics are cornerstones of modern experimental biology, molecular genetics of green algae has also become more and more important for my research.