To further develop an integrative approach that includes chemistry, biogeochemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and genomics to better understand biosilicification and silicifiers in past, contemporary and future oceans, the SILICAMICS 3 conference will facilitate once more the exchange of information between scientists from different ‘silicon’ disciplines and expertise, with the aim of moving forward in our understanding of the impact of silicifiers on Earth.
The SILICAMICS 3 conference is organized by the Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, China and the European Institute for Marine Studies, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France. It will be hosted by the Key Laboratory of Marine Ecosystem Dynamics, Ministry of Natural Resources and the State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environmental Dynamics, China.
Silicifiers are among the most important organisms on planet Earth. They are able to take advantage of the abundance of silicon (the second-most-abundant element in the Earth’s crust) to build silica structures, which can help for protection against predators, for motility, or for facilitating the penetration of light and nutrients. At the same time, silicifiers have a paramount impact on the cycling of silicon, carbon and other nutrients in marine waters.
The SILICAMICS transdisciplinary conference focuses on the marine realm, for which numerous unknowns still remain regarding the global marine silica cycle. Marine diatoms have dominated over siliceous sponges and radiolarians over the last 150 M years. Today diatoms play a key role in the trophic networks of the most productive coastal and open-ocean ecosystems, as well as in the biology-mediated transfer of CO2 from the surface to the ocean interior (i.e. the biological carbon pump). The physiology and biochemistry of biosilicification have been studied in diatoms and other silicifiers but many gaps remain regarding mechanisms, evolutionary significance, variations in response to environmental change and the impact of these processes on marine biogeochemistry. Moreover, benthic diatoms and their role in coastal ecosystems have been largely overlooked despite significant contributions to coastal primary production. Along the same vein, the roles of other siliceous organisms, such as benthic sponges, rhizaria and silicoflagellates in the silica cycle, are starting to be better constrained at a global scale.
In the last two decades, the genomes of several diatom species have been sequenced. Scientific programs (such as Tara Oceans and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s projects) have provided additional DNA sequence information from diatoms as well as from other silicifying organisms. Genomics data can now be exploited to address fundamental research questions about the role of different silicifiers in coastal and open-open ecosystems, and their controls on C, N, P, and Si biogeochemical cycles. The interactions between silicifiers and other organisms are starting to be elucidated at different spatial and temporal scales, and their impact on nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning are now being addressed. It is an exciting time to study the biology of ocean silicification processes.
- to enhance interactions among researchers from different disciplines, such as chemistry, biochemistry, physio- logy, biogeochemistry and genomics, for a better understanding of silicification processes and the role of silicifiers in marine ecosystems,
- to facilitate a constructive dialogue between top-level senior scientists and early-career researchers through a Gordon-like conference format that will provide valuable and challenging opportunities for mutual learning
- to build a niche for preparing future research proposals to obtain national and international research funding.
After an introduction on the potential role of silicon for building block for life, this conference comprises invited conferences, oral and poster communications, about 7 themes, which include: Past variations in the global silica cycle; Updating the Si cycle in the modern ocean; Genomic and proteomic tools for silicifiers; Pelagic and benthic silicifiers; Silica cycle in coastal ecosystems; Isotope chemistry providing tools for processes and fluxes; Modelling the Si cycle and silicifiers in the modern and future ocean.
Introduction of the Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources (P.R. China)
Directly affiliated to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the Second Institute of Oceanography (SIO) was established in 1966 and has developed into a non-profit oceanographic research institute with comprehensive disciplines, strong scientific and technological capabilities and advanced equipment support. It is mainly engaged in marine scientific researches on China seas, oceans and polar regions as well as the R&D and application of high technology for marine environmental protection and resources exploration.
At present, SIO has the only state key laboratory within the SOA system -- State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics and 3 key laboratories funded by SOA, a Marine Academy of Zhejiang Province co-built with Zhejiang Province, the School of Oceanography, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Institute for Polar and Deep Ocean Technology co-built with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. In addition, SIO is also supported by some technological service institutes and systems, including center for testing and measurement and center for marine standard materials as well as the analysis and testing base in Lin’an.
The research areas of SIO cover 5 research fields, including submarine geosciences and deep-sea exploration technique, ocean dynamic processes and numerical simulation, satellite oceanography and marine remote sensing, marine ecosystem and biogeochemistry as well as engineering oceanography. These five research fields have derived into 19 research directions, which have basically formed our own scientific innovation system and scientific research group that can meet our country’s great demands and help us gain a foothold in the world marine scientific and technological development.
The 4500-tonner marine scientific research vessel “Xiangyanghong 10”, co-built by SIO and a private enterprise, satisfies multidisciplinary research needs for deep-sea marine sciences and was listed in the National Oceanographic Research Fleet in March 2014. In the meantime, SIO also has the equipment research base in Changzhi Island of Zhoushan City, which has the ability for deep-sea exploration and development. In December 2019, the “Dayang” Oceanic Integrated Resources Research Vessel, which was built by SIO, was officially listed in the National Oceanographic Research Fleet. Affiliated to the China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association, the vessel is the first generation of oceanic integrated resources research vessel, which integrates multi-discipline, multi-function and multi-technology means, with the SIO Zhoushan base as the home port, and is operated by SIO.
At present, there are more than 420 staff in SIO, including 2 academicians of Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), 3 academicians of Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), 3 senior specialists at Zhejiang Provincial level, 3 national level innovation teams in the important field by Ministry of Science and Technology, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), 80 senior professional technicians, and 158 associate professional technicians, thus forming a team of high-quality, high-level and high-skilled talents for marine science and technology.
SIO now has 3 national-level first-class qualification certificates for marine engineering survey, marine engineering design, marine surveying and mapping respectively. SIO has also passed China Metrology Accreditation (CMA ) qualification certification and ISO 9001: 2008 Standard Certification. In the meantime, SIO is also responsible for editing and publishing a comprehensive domestic academic core journal Journal of Marine Sciences.
SIO will continue to improve academic innovation ability, enhance scientific research level, further build itself into a scientific and technological think tank that can meet the great demands of our country and become a growth cradle for leading talents in the field of marine science so as to make new contributions for the development of marine undertaking in our country.