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SAMS Scientist Keynote Speaker at Israeli/French Symposium

The Israel-French Symposium “Quantitative Methods in Plankton Ecology” took place on March 10, 2010 in the auditorium of Israeli Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) in Haifa, Israel. The background to the meeting is that Kinneret Lake is the only big freshwater lake in Israel, and therefore considered as a strategic resource for drinking water. Hence, the lake has been monitored very closely by scientists over the last decades, giving birth to an incredibly rich resource of data.The symposium was  sponsored by the Office for Science & Technology, Embassy of France in Tel-Aviv, with the objective of fostering closer cooperation between scientists of disparate areas of expertise such as genomics, aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry between both countries. About 60 scientists and students attended the meeting, representing all main Israeli research centres. Claire Gachon of SAMS was invited to the Symposium as a keynote speaker.

The keynote speakers presented the newest results and reviews on fundamental processes regulating freshwater and marine plankton communities, such as the roles of picoeukaryotic parasites in pelagic ecosystems (T. Sime-Ngando), the role of sphingolipids in regulating host-virus interactions in marine phytoplankton (A. Vardi), role of secondary metabolites in biotic interactions (A. Kaplan), viral infection as a driving force for cyanobacterial genome evolution (D. Lindell). The scientific potential of emerging new tools was also presented, with A Genin describing a new Lagrangian method for measurements of phytoplankton grazing, O. Beja illustrating how metagenomics can be used to for understanding marine bacterial phototrophy and C. Gachon presented genomic approaches for studying the interactions between aquatic algae and their parasites. In addition, various aspects of biotic and abiotic factors affecting phytoplankton blooms formation (A. Sukenik) were covered, as well as the assessment of the lability of organic carbon and its role in lakes of different trophic levels (A. Parparov), the fate of photopigments and organic matter in Lake Kinneret (Y. Yacobi, I. Ostrovsky). O. Levitan presented the prospective role of diazotrophic cyanobacteria in the future CO2-enriched ocean.

All participants unanimously acknowledged the top level of presentations, which triggered rich discussions. We hope that this first meeting will result in the reinforcement of scientific links between the two countries in the field of aquatic sciences and plankton communities, including student exchange, joint research projects and further symposia and workshops.


Ilia Ostrovsky
IOLR, Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Migdal, Israel

Claire Gachon
Scottish Marine Institute, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, UK

Télesphore Sime-Ngando
Laboratoire Microorganismes : Génome et Environnement (LMGE), UMR CNRS 6023, Université Blaise Pascal, France

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