2016 – Edition

Microbes in a changing world: diversity and biogeochemistry

Presentation of the edition

The Colloquium is inspired by the figure of Ramon Margalef (Barcelona, 1919-2004), who worked for many years at the Institut de Ciències del Mar and the University of Barcelona. He was one of the founders of modern ecology, broke old paradigms and contributed to science with innovative theories about the spatiotemporal structure of the ecosystems, the relations between diversity, biodiversity, stability and connectivity, the fundamental paper of energy in biological productivity and the interrelations between ecological succession and evolution. He recognized the importance of the physical environment to understand the behaviour of species and ecosystems. He wrote ca. 500 papers and books including, “On certain unifying principles in ecology”, “Perspectives in Ecological Theory”, “Information Theory in Ecology”, “Life-forms of phytoplankton as survival alternatives in an unstable environment” and “Our Biosphere”. Margalef was also an encouraging teacher and mentor. He recognized the importance of the physical environment to understand the behaviour of species and ecosystems.


We believe this 4th Colloquium will, again, be an excellent opportunity to foster learning and discussions on the relevance of an interdisciplinary perspective in Ecology. We expect to attain this important aim through a very dynamic colloquium, with an important component of discussion, exchange of ideas and research.

The lectures and discussion sessions will be imparted and supervised by researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM–CSIC) together with several visiting scientists from other institutions.

Additionally, each student group will be assigned to a scientist who will supervise his work on the selected research topic.

The Organizing Committee shall return the 50% of the Registration Fee if the student cancels the attendance to the Summer Colloquia before the 15th June 2016. After this date, the Organizing Committee shall will not return the Registration Fee.


Microbes dominate all types of ecosystems and are the main responsible for biogeochemical cycling. Recent methodological developments have put them at the forefront of research in soil, freshwater and marine research, and even in the human body considered as an ecosystem. To what extend ecological theories developed for macroorganisms apply to microbial ecology? What are the main drivers of microbial diversity?

What is the true extend of microbial diversity? Are there typical properties of microbial succession? How microbe-microbe and microbe-macroorganism relationships affect biogeochemical cycling? To what extend the technological developments that generate lists of organisms and their genes are related to whole ecosystem biogeochemical cycling? How the physical dynamics of the environment affect microbial diversity and biogeochemical function? How will global change affect microbes and the functions that they perform?

We will address all these issues with contributions of well-known microbial ecology, oceanography, biogeochemistry and ecology researchers, and discussions with all participants. Although all these questions will be examined in a cross-system scenario, our target ecosystems will be marine.

The aim of this Colloquium is to enhance the exchange of ideas and to promote imaginative thinking by bringing together ecological knowledge from experts on different scientific areas.


Sunday 10, July


17:00    Registration
18:00    Welcome and instructions
18:30    Narcís Prat (UB, Barcelona) The ecological thinking of Ramon Margalef
19:15   Carlos Pedrós-Alió (CNB-Csic, Madrid) Ecology and Microbes: numbers, observations, manipulations, and applications
20:00    Welcome drink and tapas

Monday 11, July


9:00    Ramon Massana (ICM, Barcelona) Exploring the hidden diversity among the smallest marine protists
10:00  Coffee break
10:30  David L. Kirchman (Univ. Delaware, USA) Controls of the composition and diversity of bacterial communities in an estuary
11:45  Ramiro Logares (ICM, Barcelona) Patterns of community structure in oceanic protists
13:00  Lunch break


14:00  Session “Patterns of diversity” discussion
15:00  Isabel Ferrera (ICM, Barcelona) Microbial ecology in water treatment systems
16:00  Coffee break
16:30  “My work in 120 s” (student presentations)
18:30   Ice breaker (ICM)

Tuesday 12 July


9:00   Ute Hentschel (Geomar, Kiel) What drives sponge symbioses?
10:00  Coffee break
10:30  Gipsi Lima-Mendez (Univ. Leuven, Belgium) Predicting ecological interactions from -omics data
11:45  Rachel Foster (Stockholms Universiteit) A symbiotic advantage: diatoms and cyanobacteria work together in the oligotrophic ocean
13:00  Lunch break
14:00  Session “Interactions between micro- and macroorganisms” discussion


15:00  Ruben Sommaruga (Univ. Innsbruck, Austria) When glaciers and ice-sheets melt: consequences for the biogeochemistry and microbial diversity of aquatic ecosystems
16:00  Coffee break
16:30  Xelu A.G. Morán (KAUST, Saudi Arabia) Predicting responses of marine prokaryotes to ocean warming: latitude and food matter
17:30  Session “Global change and microorganisms” discussion

Wednesday 13 July


9:00   Emilio O. Casamayor (CEAB-CSIC, Blanes) Bridging the gap between empirical microbial ecology and theories of biodiversity organization in space and time
10:00 Coffee break
10:30 Marta Goberna  (CIDE-CSIC, València) Soil bacterial community assembly and the ecological co-existence theory
11:45 Clara Ruiz-González (ICM, Barcelona) Exploring the assembly of bacterial communities in complex boreal aquatic networks: spatial structure of the metacommunity and the seed bank concept
13:00 Lunch break


14:00 Session “Microorganisms and ecological theory” discussion
15:30 Microbial ecology in practice:

Excursion to AGBAR water treatment plant

Reception at AGBAR (sponsor)

18:30 Return from excursion

Thursday 14 July


9:00    Rafel Simó (ICM, Barcelona) Looking-up genes at the ocean-atmosphere interface
10:00  Coffee break
10:30  Lionel Guidi (CNRS, Villefranche-sur-mer, France) The biological carbon pump: from remote sensing to genes
11:45  Laura Alonso-Sáez (AZTI, Euskadi) Linking omics to biogeochemical functions in marine prokaryotes: Examples from the carbon and nitrogen cycles
13:00  Lunch break


14:00  Session “Biogeochemical cycling, gens and fluxes” discussion
15:00  Coffee break
15:30  Making the invisible visible and intelligible the unintelligible

Co-creation outreach activity

18:00  End of activity
20:30  Course dinner

Friday 15 July


9:00   Francesc Peters (ICM, Barcelona) Stability and instability in relation to ecosystem structure and function
10:00  Coffee break
10:30  Pedro Cermeño (ICM, Barcelona) What made the Earth habitable: the role of marine microbial biology
12:15  Steve Smriga (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
13:30   Lunch break

Microscale interactions through the lens of physical ecology

13:30   Lunch break


14:30   Session “Physical dynamics and diversity and cycling” discussion

15:30   Coffee break
16:00   Making the invisible visible and intelligible the unintelligible

Co-creation outreach activity (presentations)

17:30   Review of course
18:00   End


Course directors

Celia Marrasé, ICM-CSIC, Spain, tel.+34 932309591, e-mail: celia@icm.csic.es,
Josep Lluís Pelegrí, ICM-CSIC, Spain, tel. +34 932309514, e-mail: pelegri@icm.csic.es

Key participating scientists

Carlos Pedrós-Alió (CNB-Csic, Madrid, Spain)
Narcís Prat (UB, Barcelona, Spain)
Ramon Massana (ICM, Barcelona, Spain)
David L. Kirchman (Univ. Delaware, USA)
Ramiro Logares (ICM, Barcelona, Spain)
Gipsi Lima-Mendez (Univ. Leuven, Belgium)
Emilio O. Casamayor (CEAB-CSIC, Blanes, Spain)
Clara Ruiz-González (ICM, Barcelona, Spain)
Marta Goberna (CIDE-CSIC, Valencia, Spain)
Francesc Peters
(ICM, Barcelona, Spain)
Ingrid Obernosterer (CNRS, Banyuls, France)
Xelu A.G. Morán (KAUST, Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Ruben Sommaruga (Univ. Innsbruck, Austria)
Rafel Simó (ICM, Barcelona)
Laura Alonso-Sáez (AZTI, Euskadi)
Lionel Guidi (CNRS, Villefranche-sur-mer, France)

Institutional support OF THE EDITION