SICB Annual Meeting 2016
January 3-7, 2016
Oregon Convention Center - Portland, OR

Symposium: Life on the Edge: Biology, Physiology, and Evolution of Extremophiles

From the deepest corners of the ocean, to hot bubbling springs, to the freezing Polar Regions, the extent to which organisms are capable of persisting in environments uninhabitable by humans continues to push the boundaries of our understanding of life. With recent advances in fields such as high-throughput sequencing, metagenomics, and transcriptomics, we are now uncovering some of the mechanisms by which organisms are capable of not only surviving, but also thriving, in extreme ecosystems - Antarctic fish with specialized antifreeze proteins and sea anemones that burrow within the ice, waving their tiny tentacles in the near freezing water below - hydrothermal vent microbes that thrive in a high pressure, high temperature environment, and living off of noxious compounds such as sulfur and methane - large, muscular squids living in oxygen minimum zones uninhabitable by most marine organisms. One shortcoming in the field of extremophile biology is that researchers tend to collaborate largely with those studying similar taxonomic groups, resulting in a lack of overall communication in methodological and theoretical advancements. This lack of broad-scale interaction is of particular concern in light of the potential impacts of climate change on these ecosystems.

Our objective in offering this symposium is to synthesize current knowledge of extremophile biology by uniting a diverse group of researchers who do not generally attend the same meetings, but ask similar questions regarding genomics, physiology, ecology, and evolution. For example, microbiologists and invertebrate biologists may both be working on organisms living under the same physiological conditions, but very little cross-communication occurs. Given the potential impacts of climate change on extreme habitats in particular, it is essential that researchers start to build larger collaborative networks. To increase connectivity across researchers, foster new collaborations, and expand the breadth of what is known about extremophile biology, experts from diverse taxonomic (from microbes to vertebrates to invertebrates) and academic backgrounds have been invited to participate in this symposium.

In addition to the symposium, we have partnered with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to offer up to 50 SICB attendees the opportunity to attend a workshop that includes dynamic, hands-on and reflective activities designed to introduce basic science communication concepts and techniques. Interested SICB attendees to learn how to better engage the public in scientific research including classroom programs, informal facilitation of a display or activity, or casual conversations. One of the most challenging aspects of being a scientist is often being able to communicate effectively with non-scientists and the practices and theories discussed are broadly applicable to a range of educational outreach settings, helping work to bridge the gap between research and public. OMSI has a proven track record of integrating scientific researchers and informal STEM through their Science Communication Fellowship Program, which has trained over 40 researchers to date.

Sponsors: DCBP


  • Annie R. Lindgren, Center for Life in Extreme Environments (CLEE), Portland State University.
  • Jason E. Podrabsky, Department of Biology/CLEE, Portland State University
  • Bradley A. Buckley, Department of Biology/CLEE, Portland State University
  • Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Department of Biology/CLEE, Portland State University

S2.1 Monday, Jan. 4, 07:55 LINDGREN, AR: Welcome and introduction to the symposium


S2.3 Monday, Jan. 4, 08:30 MIKUCKI, JA*; TULACZYK, S; AUKEN, E; LYONS, B; DACHWALD, B; CHUA, M; PURCELL, A: Geomicrobiology, Engineering and Geophysics: Enabling the exploration of the subglacial microbial community in Antarctica’s Blood Falls

S2.4 Monday, Jan. 4, 09:00 O\'BRIEN, K.M.*; CROCKETT, E.L.; GROVE, T.J.; LEWIS, J.M.; OLDHAM, C.A.: Is the lack of oxygen-binding proteins in Antarctic fishes advantageous in the extreme cold waters of the Southern Ocean? The interrelationship between oxygen-binding proteins and oxidative stress

S2.5 Monday, Jan. 4, 09:30 PODRABSKY, J.E.: The effects of oxygen deprivation on the development of a vertebrate extremophile

S2.6 Monday, Jan. 4, 10:30 DEVANEY, S.C.: Using ecological niche modeling to understand distribution of a deep-sea eel

S2.7 Monday, Jan. 4, 11:00 SEIBEL, B. A.: Physiological strategies of vertical migrating organisms in pronounced oxygen minimum zones

S2.8 Monday, Jan. 4, 11:30 DALY, M: Are extremeophiles phylo-extremists? An investigation into the rates and nature of evolution in deep sea, polar, and hydrothermal vent sea anemones

S2.9 Monday, Jan. 4, 13:30 BEINART, Roxanne A.*; GIRGUIS, Peter G.: Linking symbiont physiology to the ecology of chemoautotrophic symbioses

S2.10 Monday, Jan. 4, 14:00 PAIGHT, C.; MUñOZ-GóMEZ, S. A.; SAFFO, M. B.; SLAMOVITS, C; LANE, C. E.*: Life inside a tunicate: did high concentrations metabolites facilitate an apicomplexan lifestyle transition?

S2.11 Monday, Jan. 4, 14:30 REYSENBACH, A.L.*; DAVIS, R.: Comparative metagenomics of deep-sea hydrothermal vent microbial communities

S2.12 Monday, Jan. 4, 15:00 MORENO, L.E.: Communicating Science in Informal Learning Environments