Monday, August 11, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
306, Sacramento Convention Center
Holly Bik, University of Birmingham
W. Kelley Thomas, University of New Hampshire;
Dorota L. Porazinska, University of Colorado; and
Simon Creer, Bangor University
The goal of this session is to catalyze cross-disciplinary discussions between the ecology and environmental sequencing communities. High-throughput sequencing technologies now offer tremendous opportunities to make major inroads into our understanding of global biodiversity and biogeographic patterns. However, in order to make the most of emerging high-throughput sequencing approaches, we must move towards a “systems ecology” mindset, drawing expertise from diverse disciplines. For microbial eukaryotic taxa in particular, we can now conduct en mass
biodiversity assessment using traditional loci (rRNA genes) at a fraction of the time and cost required for traditional (morphological) approaches. In addition, as databases of genes with functional descriptions expand, metagenomic approaches become useful for elucidating ecosystem function. Despite this promise, current bottlenecks and roadblocks lie in the development of useful distributed tools, links between molecules and morphology/ecology, and common data standards to allow global comparisons across individual studies. This session will begin with an overview of environmental sequencing approaches, introducing participants to the methods, data types and current advantages and limitations of DNA/RNA-based studies. The session is intended to be highly interactive, including brief talks, moderated discussion points, and solicitation of questions and feedback from audience members. This session would stimulate critical discussion related to the 2014 meeting theme of “Its all ecology.” DNA/RNA-based studies represent an emerging ecological discipline, and as such, it is imperative that the growing community of microbial ecologists begins to build strong links to the traditional ecological research that forms the center point of the ESA meetings.