Workshop 2: Metabolic Diversity and Evolution

Metabolic diversity and evolution in marine biogeochemical cycling and ocean ecosystem processes

Ecosystem services such as climate mediation, food security and aesthetic value, are underpinned by the activity and biodiversity of marine organisms. These organisms are sensitive to global environmental change, in terms of both total biomass and community composition, and also possess varied and diverse metabolic capabilities that are acted upon by evolutionary processes. Predicting how marine communities and individual species will acclimate and adapt to environmental change requires an understanding of both metabolic diversity present in these communities and the influence of evolutionary processes on them. However, there are significant knowledge gaps regarding the extent of metabolic diversity in marine systems, the mode and tempo of evolutionary change in marine organisms and the interactions between them. 

This workshop will focus on addressing the question of how metabolic diversity and evolutionary processes affect the role of marine organisms in ocean biogeochemical cycles and food webs. The workshop will also examine the resilience of marine organisms and their capacity to adapt to environmental changes. Workshop presentations and discussions will include a range of approaches from metabolomics, (meta)-proteomics and -transcriptomics that provide insight into in situ metabolic functioning, population genetics and experimental approaches that provide insight into important traits and population characteristics, and synergistic modelling approaches that provide predictions of ecosystem response to environmental change. Given the pervasive nature of global climate change, discussion and presentations will be structured to include all domains of life. 


The objective of this workshop is to increase scientific community understanding of how evolution and metabolic diversity influence ecological resistance and resilience to environmental change. To this end, the workshop will bring together researchers focused on a variety of approaches, taxa and ecosystems to increase our understanding of species’ stability, flexibility and adaptability in light of global environmental change. By bringing together a diverse community of researchers, the workshop aims to describe the state of knowledge in the field, identify significant gaps in that knowledge and examine unique ways to fill the most important gaps.

Outcomes and expected impact

This workshop will produce a synthesis of current understanding of metabolic diversity in the light of environmental change and identify approaches needed to include metabolism and evolution in marine ecosystem models at multiple scales, from individual organisms to systems. It will also highlight important future avenues of research to better understand the full potential of marine systems to adapt to the changes imposed by global environmental change. An important outcome of the workshop will be to continue building a community of researchers working to understand how the interactions between metabolic diversity and evolutionary processes will shape marine ecosystems in a future ocean. The synthesis paper will be targeted to a high-profile journal and/or in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal.

Keynote speaker: Mary Ann Moran (University of Georgia, USA)

Workshop conveners

Tatiana Rynearson, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI, USA

Gerhard Herndl, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria