The 2019 PlyMSEF Medal Lecture will be given by Nicole Dubilier from the Symbiosis Department, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany.
Symbioses between chemosynthetic bacteria and marine invertebrates were first discovered at hydrothermal vents in the deep sea but are now known to occur in a wide range of habitats including coral reef sediments, seagrass beds, cold seeps and sunken whale carcasses. In these nutritional associations, the bacterial symbionts use chemical energy sources such as hydrogen sulfide to fix CO2 into organic compounds and feed their hosts. Chemosynthetic symbioses have evolved multiple times in convergent evolution from numerous bacterial lineages, and occur in at least nine protist and animal groups such as ciliates, flatworms, mussels, clams, snails, annelids, and nematodes.
Similar to Darwin's finches, whose beaks have evolved different shapes and forms as an adaptation to different food sources, the symbionts of hosts from chemosynthetic environments have acquired a wide and flexible repertoire of assimilation pathways in adaptation to the energy and carbon sources available in their environment. Intriguingly, this flexibility appears to have been gained through horizontal gene transfer.
In her talk, Nicole will describe how the institute's meta'omic' analyses of symbionts from deep-sea, hydrothermal vent mussels have revealed that horizontal gene transfer and symbiont diversity play a key role in the ecology and evolution of these host-microbe associations.
This free lecture is open to all but booking is required via the above link. The lecture starts at 18:00 (arrivals from 17:30). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for queries or further information.
PlyMSEF is a charitable body established to advance education in marine science and related subjects. Its work is overseen by trustees from marine organisations across Plymouth, including Professor Richard Thompson OBE from the University of Plymouth Marine institute.