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Open Science Conference 2017
24 - 25 October 2017
Level 0 Auditorium between Buildings 2 and 3



  • Day 1Tuesday, October 24th
  • Day 2Wednesday, October 25th
Morning Session
8:30 am

Opening Speech

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 08:30 - 08:35 Details

8:35 am

Keynote 1: Climate change transforms coral reef assemblages

Heat stress due to global warming triggered global-scale bleaching of corals in 1998, 2010 and 2015/2016, and is rapidly emerging as the most important contemporary threat to the world’s coral reefs. We recorded mass-mortalities of corals following the record-breaking marine heatwave in the summer of 2016 that have transformed reef assemblages in the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. The severity of bleaching, mortality and of the shift in taxonomic composition of corals over a distance of close to 1,000km, were all directly related to regional patterns of heat exposure. The depletion of corals has substantially reduced ecological functions. Furthermore, the pre-bleaching coral assemblages are unlikely to reassemble in coming decades because of the increasing frequency of climate-driven mortality events, leading to the emergence of novel, depauperate assemblages. These ecological responses are a harbinger of further radical shifts in the species composition of all marine ecosystems, especially if global action on climate fails to achieve a +1.5–2 °C global average target.

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 08:35 - 09:05 Details

Prof. Terry Hughes, James Cook University
9:05 am

Consequences of Climate Change

1. High salinity environments – a potential piece to understand the coral thermotolerance puzzle?
Hagen Gegner, PI: Christian Voolstra

2. The role of the cnidarian host in determining thermal tolerance
Maha Cziesielski, PI: Manuel Aranda

3. Thermal adaptations of phytoplankton in Red Sea
Peng Jin, PI: Susana Agusti

4. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in reef-building corals
Yi Jin Liew, PI: Manuel Aranda

5. Coral reef food webs in the Red Sea - environmental gradients and anthropogenic stressors
Benjamin Kurten, PI: Burton Jones

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 09:05 - 10:10 Details

10:10 am

Group photo of conference attendees

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 10:10 - 10:15 Details

10:15 am

Coffee Break

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 10:15 - 10:30 Details

10:30 am

Welcoming Speech

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 10:30 - 10:50 Details

Dr. Suad Husseini Juffali
10:50 am

Keynote 2: On the use of stable isotopes to elucidate ecosystem functioning and end-to-end food webs

Biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology aim to advance our understanding of material flows within, and the functioning of, ecosystems. The (bio)geochemists provide quantitative rigor and tools for tracing flows, while ecologists emphasize the need to embrace biodiversity.
The link between organism identity/activity and biogeochemical processes is still poorly known. I will present some examples how organic geochemical tools, biogeochemical process studies and whole ecosystem isotope labeling studies can be combined to elucidate the flow of carbon and nitrogen through ecosystems (e.g., cold-water corals, sponges and coastal sediments).

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 10:50 - 11:20 Details

Prof. Jack Middelburg, Utrecht University
11:20 am

Ecology & the Environment

1. Microhabitat association of Cryptobenthic Gobiidae Fish
Emily Troyer, PI: Michael Berumen

2. Characterization of a coral black band disease outbreak in the southern central Red Sea
Ghaida Hadaidi, PI: Christian Voolstra

3. Apparent optical properties of the Red Sea
Surya Prakash Tiwari, PI: Burton Jones

4. Thermal limits of Red Sea biota
Veronica Chaidez, PI: Carlos Duarte

5. HF Radar Site-Selection Considerations for the Red Sea
Michael Campbell, PI: Burton Jones

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 11:20 - 12:30 Details

12:30 pm

Lunch Break

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 12:30 - 14:00 Details

Afternoon Session
2:00 pm

Keynote 3: Diversity in virus communities and the rare virosphere

The diversity within virus communities can be interrogated by metagenomic analysis or by deep-sequencing of amplicons. Results from deep-sequencing of virus marker genes that represent specific viral groups, reveal that within related groups of DNA or RNA viruses, most genotypes are rare. Moreover, the composition of these communities are temporally and spatially dynamic. Sequence differences in marker genes also reflect broader differences in gene content, and thus imply likely functional differences among phylogenetic groups that are defined by sequence differences within marker genes. Ultimately, it is the combination of metagenomic and amplicon-based approaches that will give us the deepest insights into the composition and function of ocean-virus communities.

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 14:00 - 14:30 Details

Prof. Curtis Suttle, University of British Columbia
2:30 pm

E&E, Marine Microbiology

1. The curious case of Endozoicomonas: deciphering the role of an enigmatic coral bacterial symbiont
Claudia Pogoreutz, PI: Christian Voolstra

2. How to bug the waters?
Gauri Mahadik, PI: Carlos Duarte

3. Excess labile carbon promotes the expression of virulence factors in coral reef planktonic populations
Anny Cardenas, PI: Christian Voolstra

4. Whale Shark Habitat Use in Al Lith, Saudi Arabia
Royale Hardenstine, PI: Michael Berumen

5. SymPortal: A web-based platform for automated ITS2-type profiling for next-generation sequencing data of coral symbionts
Benjamin Hume, PI: Christian Voolstra

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 14:30 - 15:45 Details

3:45 pm

Coffee Break

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 15:45 - 16:00 Details

4:00 pm

Marine Microbiology

1. Disassembling a metaorganism: expanding the coral model Aiptasia for functional microbiome studies
Rúben Costa, PI: Christian Voolstra

2. Seasonal variability of autotrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton in the Red Sea
Najwa Al-Otaibi, PI: Xelu Moran

3. Understanding microphytoplankton community dynamics in the Red Sea after fertilization with different doses of dust from the Arabian Peninsula
Isabelle Schulz, PI: Carlos Duarte, Susana Agusti

4. Bacterioplankton growth and physiological characterization in different Red Sea shallow ecosystems
Luis Silva, PI: Xelu Moran

5. Heat-activated retrotransposons in the coral symbiont Symbiodinium
Jit Ern Chen, PI: Manuel Aranda

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 16:00 - 17:15 Details

5:30 pm

Poster Session

Campus Library, Lobby area

Campus Library 17:30 - 19:30 Details

Morning Session
8:30 am

Keynote 4: Building the ocean observing and monitoring systems to support good decisions by marine industries and governments

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”: Designing and building ocean observing and monitoring systems to support robust ocean health assessments and improve the ability (and chances) of marine industries and governments making good decisions on sustainable development.
John Gunn

In the Anthropocene, a suite of pressures on our oceans are threatening species, ecosystems, livelihoods and indeed some of the planet’s core life support systems. For the last few decades scientists have been banging the drum, trying to get the message across to politicians, policy makers and the community that the impacts of these pressures, now and in the future, will cause massive harm to our global community. Although “climate change”, overfishing, pollution and even noise are acknowledged as pressures by many, arguably the science community has had mixed success in a. getting the message across that mitigation and adaptation are critical and immediate needs, and b. driving the required responses. Indeed, in some countries there is growing push back on what is sold as science “doom and gloom” messages.
Having worked at the interface between science, policy and community for many years, I think one of the impediments to getting our messages across is the lack of robust and publically available data sets, collected at time and space scales that allow us to talk with authority about historical trends and current state, and provide a basis for projections of future state.
The climate science community awoke to this issue over thirty years ago and through the World Meteorological Organization and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission they developed the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and associated Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). These two global collaborations have driven the collection of data at space and time scales required to develop and improve Global Climate Models. They have precipitated massive innovation in observing technologies (satellite sensors/systems; robotics), and driven a culture of sharing data, models, and coordinated assessments (IPCC AR etc).
The ocean biogeochemistry and biology/ecology communities have lagged behind the climate scientists, and as a result global assessments of these elements of the ocean system range from patchy to grossly inadequate. Over the last five years, GOOS and GCOS have worked hard to extend their ocean observing systems for physics to include biogeochemistry and biology. I will provide an overview of the progress that has been made, and use a new integrated monitoring program that is being developed for the Great Barrier Reef as a case study of how we might finally start to develop comprehensive and robust observations and data sets for ocean ecosystems.

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 08:30 - 09:00 Details

Mr. ​John Gunn, Australian Institute of Marine Science
9:00 am

Nutrient Networks

1. Anomalies in the carbon cycle of Red Sea Ecosystems
Kimberlee Baldry, PI: Carlos Duarte

2. Sponge feeding by Xestospongia testudinaria
Michael Wooster, PI: Michael Berumen

3. N-S gradients in the metabolic rates of benthic primary producers in the Red Sea
Andrea Anton Gamazo, PI: Carlos Duarte

4. Shifts to algal dominance in coral reefs affect biogeochemical functioning: evidence from multi-parameter in situ experiments in the Red Sea
Florian Roth, PI: Burton Jones

5. Can carbonates be the doom of “Blue Carbon”? - Burial rates and potential sources of inorganic carbon in seagrass and mangrove habitats.
Vincent Saderne, PI: Carlos Duarte

6. Corals’ genetic blueprint is linked with the provision of oceans key nitrogenous osmolytes
David Ngugi, PI: Carlos Duarte

7. Methane production by seagrass ecosystems in the Red Sea
Neus Garcias-Bonet, PI: Carlos Duarte

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 09:00 - 10:30 Details

10:30 am

Coffee Break

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 10:30 - 11:00 Details

11:00 am


1. Insights from compound-specific isotope analysis into the functional redundancy of herbivorous reef fishes
Matthew Tietbohl, PI: Michael Berumen

2. Spatial patterns of variability in soft-sediment macrofaunal assemblages along an inshore/offshore gradient in the central Red Sea
Zahra Alsaffar, PI: Burton Jones

3. The mysteries of the benthic cryptic reef fauna - What metabarcoding of ARMS reveals!
John Pearman, PI: Burton Jones

4. Assessing population structure of fisheries species around the Arabian Peninsula
Sara Wilson, PI: Michael Berumen

5. Global diversity of marine animals based on metagenomes
Nathan Geraldi, PI: Carlos Duarte

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 11:00 - 12:15 Details

12:15 pm

Lunch Break

KAUST 12:15 - 13:15 Details

Afternoon Session
1:30 pm

Keynote 5: Ensuring a future for corals through assisted evolution

Coral reefs are in rapid decline due to a multitude of anthropogenic activities causing ocean acidification, mechanical damage, declining water quality and climate change. Climate models based on unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions predict temperature anomalies causing severe coral bleaching will occur annually on 99% of the world’s coral reefs within this century. Such severe coral bleaching events lead to extensive coral mortality. Human interventions that increase coral tolerance to thermal and other stresses, and assist in coral reef recovery are thus urgently required in order to ensure coral reef persistence into the future. Assisted evolution (AE) is the acceleration of naturally occurring evolutionary processes to enhance certain traits, and includes selective breeding and preconditioning of coral, directed evolution of coral photosymbionts (Symbiodinium spp.), and manipulation of the coral-associated prokaryotic communities (probiotics). Our proof-of-concept work shows exciting early results, with evidence for rapid temperature and herbicide adaptation in Symbiodinium through directed evolution, the outperformance of purebred genotypes by recombinant genotypes (interspecific hybrids), and a change in the coral-associated prokaryote community composition following inoculation of larvae with specific microbiomes. I will present some of these results and discuss how our findings may be applied to coral reef restoration initiatives. Expanding from our AE work, we have recently begun to explore synthetic biology approaches as these may achieve our goals (i.e., coral stock with increased stress tolerance) faster. I will briefly discuss our progress and near-future plans in this field.

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 13:30 - 14:00 Details

Prof. Madeleine van Oppen, University of Melbourne
2:00 pm


1. The stability of the giant clam as a holobiont
Melissa Pappas, PI: Michael Berumen

2. Unraveling cnidarian-dinoflagellate signaling pathway activation in the coral model Aiptasia using a transcriptomic and phosphoproteomic approach
Fabia Simona, PI: Christian Voolstra

3. Tissue-specific transcriptome analysis reveals the central role of ammonium in Aiptasia-Symbiodinium symbiosis
Guoxin Cui, PI: Manuel Aranda

4. Copepods (Crustacea) living in symbiosis with Galaxea corals in the Indo-Pacific
Sofya Mudrova, PI: Michael Berumen

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 14:00 - 15:00 Details

3:00 pm

Coffee Break

Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3 15:00 - 15:15 Details

3:15 pm

In-Kingdom & OOK Job Opportunities Workshop

KAUST 15:15 - 17:15 Details

6:00 pm

Food & team games

Island Recreation Center

Island Recreation Center (IRC) 18:00 - 21:00 Details