Introduction and justification of the workshop:
Coral reefs are among the most important marine ecosystems on earth. They are hotspots of biodiversity, and fundamental to the prosperity of many countries by providing important ecosystem functions and coastal protection against natural disasters. However, about one third of coral species and other living organisms in the reefs are endangered, approximately 19% of coral reefs have been effectively destroyed without immediate prospects of recovery, an additional 15% are at imminent risk of collapse under human pressure in the next 10-20 years, and another 20% are under threat of collapsing in the longer term (Wilkinson, 2008).
Among the most important animal species of these reefs are the sessile marine invertebrates, which have developed unique metabolic and physiological capabilities to survive in challenging and complex marine environments, allowing them to become structural and functional key components in coral reefs. One of the most important reasons for their success is the interaction with associated organisms. This complex biological assemblage is known as “holobiont”, a collective term referring to the totality of an animal, its endolithic algae, and the associated community of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, viruses and fungi. Microorganisms are also involved in metabolic and functional relationships with both invertebrates and vertebrates, and in such relationships these microorganisms are known as the microbiome. During the past decades, the holobiont and microbiome have been subject to numerous multidisciplinary scientific studies. Though the holobiont is not yet well understood, the development and application of “…omics” techniques, e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, have strongly promoted holobiont research in particular and marine organism research in general. These technologies and methods are now used to address fundamental questions in areas such as marine ecology, biodiversity, evolution, and natural products. They also have allowed the transition from individual studies of single genes, proteins or metabolites to holistic studies of the macro and microorganism, and their interactions with the environment (systems biology). However, many of the new omics approaches that are currently being established have not yet found their way in marine sciences.
Thus, the major goal of the current workshop is to provide a general overview of omics approaches (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics) in general and in reef-building organisms in particular, and to discuss emerging methods and techniques as well as their challenges in the application to marine sciences.
a) To promote state-of-the-art omics approaches in Colombia.b) To provide a critical view at modern omics tools.c) To introduce young researchers to various omics techniques and to enable them discussing their projects with international specialists in the field.d) To promote relationships between researchers and to establish an international omics research network.e) To stimulate new research ideas in the area of marine sciences.