Under Pressure: Coastal upwelling and Climate Change – September 6th, 2018

Marisol Garcia-Reyes, Farralon Institute
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - September 6th, 2018

Hosted by the Physical Oceanography Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Marisol has studied coastal upwelling for over 10 years, focusing on its variability, and how it relates to climate (García-Reyes et al., 2015) and its marine ecosystem (García-Reyes et al., 2013). She has a background on physics and atmospheric sciences, but she's an oceanographer at heart. Her current research includes a comparative study on climate impacts on the California and Benguela upwelling ecosystems (see CalBenJI project), and development and analysis of Indicators of ocean and climate variability in California (see the MOCI project)

Under Pressure: Coastal Upwelling and Climate Change

Is your research subject, life or hobbies part of the California Current or coast? Do you wonder (and get asked) how is it impacted by climate change? This seminar is for you. Back to the basis of coastal upwelling. We will explore the following questions: How coastal upwelling, the process that brings nutrient rich water to the coast and fuels a rich marine ecosystem, depends on global climate? How is this a global phenomena? How it is and will be impacted by climate variability and change? What do we know and what do not know about these changes? And how they impact our coast and our lives?

Using Transcriptomics and Reverse Genetics to Understand Cnidarian-Dinoflagellate Symbiosis – September 13th, 2018

Phillip Cleaves, Stanford University
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - September 13th, 2018

Hosted by the Invertebrate Zoology & Molecular Ecology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Using Transcriptomics and Reverse Genetics to Understand Mechanisms of Cnidarian-dinoflagellate Symbiosis

Phillip A. Cleves1, Cory J. Krediet1, Erik M. Lehnert1, Benjamin M. Mason1, Marie Strader2, Mikhail Matz2, and John R. Pringle1

1Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

2Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA


The endosymbiosis between corals and dinoflagellate algae (genus Symbiodinium) is essential to the energetic requirements of coral-reef ecosystems.  However, coral reefs are in danger due to elevated ocean temperatures and other stresses that lead to the breakdown of this symbiosis and consequent coral "bleaching".  Despite its importance, the molecular basis of how corals establish and maintain a healthy symbiosis is poorly understood, in part because of the lack of a tractable genetic model organism. The small anemone Aiptasia is symbiotic with Symbiodinium strains like those in reef-building corals but has many experimental advantages over corals, making it an attractive laboratory model for cnidarian symbiosis.  To explore the possible transcriptional basis of heat-induced bleaching, we used RNA-Seq to identify genes that are differentially expressed during a time course of thermally stressed symbiotic and aposymbiotic Aiptasia strains. We observed a strong upregulation of hundreds of early stress response genes at time points long before bleaching begins in symbiotic anemones. The putative promoters of these early stress response genes are enriched for NFKB and HSP1 transcription factor binding sites suggesting that many of these stress response genes share core transcriptional inputs. The overall expression patterns were similar between the symbiotic anemones and the aposymbiotic anemones, indicating that many of the expression changes are not specific to the presence of the algae. However, blocking protein synthesis or HSP1 DNA binding with pharmacological inhibitors during this up-regulation results in more severe bleaching suggesting this symbiont-independent early stress response is protective against thermal stress and bleaching.

Genetic tools are needed to allow rigorous functional testing of the roles in symbiosis of candidate genes and pathways. As a first step in developing transgenic methods for Aiptasia, we have successfully expressed the photoconvertible Kaede fluorescent protein in larvae by microinjection of capped mRNA into 1-cell zygotes obtained by spawning in the laboratory.  This technique should allow both expression of tagged proteins for localization studies and the overexpression of candidate genes to analyze gain-of-function phenotypes.  In addition, we have promising results for two different methods for analyzing loss-of-function phenotypes in Aiptasia.  First, we have microinjected zygotes with translation-blocking morpholinos targeting the FGF1a gene, which has been shown to be required for apical-tuft formation in another anthozoan.  Preliminary results show apparent loss of apical-tuft formation in successfully injected larvae, suggesting that the Fgf1a protein was effectively knocked down.  Meanwhile, we have successfully used the CRISPR-Cas9 technology to create genetic changes in embryos of the coral Acropora millepora.  Through the establishment of both gain-of-function and loss-of-function methods in both Aiptasia and corals, Aiptasia will be a uniquely powerful genetic model organism (with year-round spawning) for the study of cnidarian-Symbiodinium symbiosis, and the discoveries made can be validated using similar technologies in corals.


We thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation for support.


Scientific Art… or Artistic Science? – September 20th, 2018

Ron Holthuysen, Scientific Art, Inc.
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - September 20th, 2018

Hosted by the Phycology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

In 1980, Ron Holthuysen  founded Scientific Art Studio.  After teaching, biology, chemistry and physics for a few years, he decided to follow his desire to create natural history exhibits.  There was not really a job in which he could explore and combine his interests in taxidermy, wild life photography, film, design, history, paleontology, geology, sculpture, painting, engineering, teaching and be an inventor all at the same time.  Ron has always had the need to involve himself in a wide range of fields, and to challenge himself with interesting projects.  The result is Scientific Art Studio as it is now.

During the last 35 years, under the name of Scientific Art Studio He has been able to take on and, mostly to great satisfaction of his clients, finalize projects of a very wide variety.  From Natural History exhibits to special effects for motion pictures and television, from Museum taxidermy to mechanical costumes for a Las Vegas show, from the restoration of artifacts to the design of rock show stages, and much more.  The source of his inspiration and the focus of his interest has been always Nature in its broadest embrace.  It gives Ron great satisfaction to reconstruct extinct animals and plants, to work with scientific specialists and to dabble in whatever  draws his attention.

Scientific Art or Artistic Science ?

The initial reaction of members of the Scientific World and of the Art World often is to distance themselves from one another’s realm of interest.


A world of exactness and no fuzzy, artsy stuff.

Rigid discipline.


Seeking for the absolute freedom of self expression.

No restraints.

Absolute separate worlds, right ?

Think again or better: Look , listen, smell and feel again.

Science and Art are, in my opinion, co-dependent siblings.

Both realms study and investigate and interpret the world we live in.

This talk features the some of the  visualizations and interpretations of our world through Scientific Art (or Artistic Science)

Watch Ron’s MLML seminar presentation below:

Same Data, Different Visual Forms: Data Visualization for Scientific Discovery – January 25th, 2018

Zan Armstrong, Freelance Data Visualization Engineer
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - January 25th, 2018

Hosted by the Phycology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Zan Armstrong is a data visualization engineer and designer. Her work includes creating custom visualizations, both static and interactive, for analysts and scientists to enable them to make new discoveries in their data. She is most interested by identifying what characteristics of the data might be most analytically/scientifically important, and finding ways to reveal those characteristics visually. Zan also enjoys finding other ways to see familiar data that reveals a different perspective or illustrating situations in which the "obvious" understanding of the data is misleading or masks some deeper truth.





Same Data, Different Visual Forms: Data Visualization for Scientific Discovery

Picking the visual form for a data visualization is a decision about what part of our data we care most about. Should we highlight outliers? Focus on the densest parts of the data? Ignore numbers under a certain threshold? Look at values or differences? The right form depends on what we believe is most important to see. Zan Armstrong will describe the thought process behind data-driven design decisions from her work and share her 5 top recommendations for making more effective visualizations for scientific discovery (including code snippets in R and/or Python).

Watch Dr. Armstrong’s MLML seminar presentation below:

Bombs and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) — confirmation of rapid growth and longevity – February 1st, 2018

Allen Andrews, NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - February 1st, 2018

Hosted by the Ichthyology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Allen Andrews joined the Life History Program of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in 2009.  He came to Hawaii from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) in California where he operated the Age and Longevity Research Laboratory for 12 years.  He earned a M.S. degree in Marine Science from MLML in 1997 and in 2009 he finished a Ph.D. in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, South Africa.  His dissertation presented validated age and growth of the Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass) and orange roughy. 

His area of expertise involves age estimation and validation of fishes and invertebrates using growth zone counting and radiochemical techniques (i.e. lead-radium dating) and bomb radiocarbon dating.  Recent works involved bomb radiocarbon dating of several shark species, the endangered white abalone, hawksbill sea turtle, and fishes of Indo-Pacific regions.  Allen's work with the Life History Program at NOAA Fisheries began with applying these techniques to dating opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper), and has continued with applications to other fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago, as well as national and international collaborations on fishes and corals of the Gulf of Mexico, Great Barrier Reef, and Mediterranean. As an Affiliate Faculty member of the Oceanogrpahy Department and the Marine Biology Graduate Program at University of Hawaii, Manoa, Allen has fostered research with students involving deep-sea fishes and tropical snappers. Other interests are with photography, astronomy, and world travel. For more information please visit: “astrofish.me

Bombs and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) — confirmation of rapid growth

Longevity of blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) remains unresolved. Use of fin spines and sagittal otoliths for age reading has led to unconfirmed longevity estimates of close to 20 years.  Age validation has been elusive because large individuals are rare and a technique that can be applied to the structures that provide estimates of age was absent. Use of otolith chemical signatures has been limited by sagittal otoliths that are very small—whole otolith mass of adult blue marlin can reach 10 mg for the largest fish. Recent advances in the detection limits of radiocarbon (14C) with accelerator mass spectrometry—coupled with recently acquired knowledge of marine bomb 14C signals spanning the tropical Pacific Ocean—have led to an opportunity to age blue marlin from small amounts of otolith material. In this study, otoliths from a recently collected 1245 lb. (565 kg) female blue marlin at 146 inches (3.71 m) lower jaw fork length were analyzed for 14C. Using a series of deductions in the bomb 14C dating method the age of this “grander” blue marlin was confirmed.

Watch Dr. Andrews’ MLML seminar presentation below:

The economies of scale – effects of body size on cetacean foraging – February 8th, 2018

Danuta Wisniewska, Hopkins Marine Station
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - February 8th, 2018

Hosted by the Vertebrate Ecology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Danuta Maria Wisniewska is a bioacoustician and foraging ecologist interested in how marine animals negotiate their surroundings and forage in their heterogeneous and rapidly changing habitats. Her research is centered on fine-scale empirical studies using multi-sensor biologging tags.  Danuta is an oceanographer turned biologist. After an undergrad in oceanography at University of Gdansk in Poland, she completed an Arctic Biology program at the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway. She then joined the Marine Bioacoustics Lab at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she worked on sensory ecology of echolocating toothed whales. After earning her PhD degree, she moved to the Section of Marine Mammal Research at Aarhus University, where she worked on the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Jeremy Goldbogen’s lab at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.


The economies of scale – effects of body size on cetacean foraging

Size dependence of metabolic rate, where smaller animals generally exhibit higher mass-specific  metabolism, is a major factor influencing how animals interact with their environment. Whilst large body size necessitates high absolute energy intake, it also grants low relative rates of energy use per unit body mass and, therefore, many physiological and ecological advantages. Such size-related functional constraints ultimately shape animal behavior, performance and life history. In this talk, I will discuss how these body size trade-offs affect foraging performance of cetaceans, from harbor porpoises to sperm whales and blue whales. I will focus on how biologging technology has enabled us to address this.

Watch Dr. Wisniewska’s MLML seminar presentation below:

How the Squid Lost Its Shell: An Adventure in Cephalopod Evolution and Science Communication – February 15th, 2018

Danna Staaf
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - February 15th, 2018

Hosted by the Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Danna Staaf; Photo credit: R. Heywood

Danna Staaf fell in love with cephalopods at the age of ten. She began to keep them as pets in a home aquarium, learned to scuba dive in order to meet more of them in the wild, and eventually completed a Ph.D. on squid at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station. Her first book, Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, was named one of the best science books of 2017 by NPR Science Friday. She lives in San Jose, California, and works as a freelance science writer and educator.







How the Squid Lost Its Shell: An Adventure in Cephalopod Evolution and Science Communication

Before there were mammals on land, there were dinosaurs. And before there were fish in the sea, there were cephalopods—the ancestors of modern squid and Earth’s first truly substantial animals. With dozens of tentacles and formidable shells, they presided over an ancient undersea empire. These mysterious, intelligent, and adaptable creatures are the heroes of an epic adventure spanning hundreds of millions of years, from the primordial ocean to the calamari on your dinner plate.

The story of squid evolution will be told interleaved with "the story behind the story": strategies, examples and practical tips for getting out the word about your favorite science, no matter how intricate or obscure.

Watch Dr. Staaf’s MLML seminar presentation below:

A single-cell view of microbial activity in the deep sea – February 22nd, 2018

Anne Dekas, Stanford University
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - February 22nd, 2018

Hosted by the Biological Oceanography Lab

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Anne Dekas is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Earth System Science Department studying the microbiology and biogeochemistry of the deep sea.  She is broadly interested in how microbial life affects the chemistry and climate of the planet, today and throughout time. Her research combines tools from molecular biology and isotope geochemistry to identify and quantify microbial metabolic capabilities, activity, and interactions, with a focus on understanding uncultured microorganisms in deep-sea water and sediment. Before joining the faculty at Stanford, she was a Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she investigated the carbon metabolic flexibility of pelagic marine archaea. She received a Ph.D. in Geobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where she studied nitrogen fixation, methane oxidation and sulfate reduction at deep-sea methane seeps. She received an A.B. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. Originally interested in space sciences, Dekas performed research at three NASA centers (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center, and Goddard Space Flight Center ) before beginning her Ph.D., and she continues to be interested in the survival strategies of life in extreme environments.


A single-cell view of microbial activity in the deep sea

The deep sea is one of the largest habitats for microbial life on the planet: it covers nearly two thirds of our Earth’s surface and harbors approximately 70% of total marine microorganisms. The activity of microorganisms in the deep sea plays an essential role in biogeochemical cycling, including the production and consumption of greenhouse gases (e.g., CH4, CO2 and N2O), thereby affecting climate. Our knowledge of the diversity and activity of the microorganisms in the environment, including the deep sea, has expanded in recent years with the development of next generation sequencing (e.g., “-omics” methodologies). However, our understanding of trends in microbial activity as a function of phylotype and physicochemical parameters is still lacking, and particularly so in the deep ocean. Closing this gap in our knowledge will increase our understanding of greenhouse gas cycling in the marine environment, and will better equip us to predict the activity of microorganisms in a changing climate. To this end, my group is currently studying: (1) organic substrate utilization by pelagic marine Thaumarchaeota, (2) nitrogen fixation by anaerobic bacteria and archaea in marine sediments, and (3) methane oxidation by syntrophic archaea at methane seeps. In this presentation I will touch on each of these areas of exploration, as well as our recent methodological advances in the use of nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS) to quantify anabolic activity in uncultured microorganisms on the single-cell level.

Watch Dr. Dekas’ MLML seminar presentation below:

Public Engagement using the Marine Sciences – March 1st, 2018

Russell Arnott, University of Bath (UK)
Moss Landing Marine Labs Seminar Series - March 1st, 2018

Hosted by the Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology

MLML Seminar Room, 4pm

Open to the public

Having studied Oceanography at University of Southampton, Russell worked as a commercial oceanographer before becoming a high school Physics teacher. With a passion for public engagement, Russell left teaching to pursue science outreach as Education Consultant and Presenter for Incredible Oceans. Russell frequently performs at events across Europe including the Cheltenham Science Festival, Elderflower Fields Festival, Wilderness Festival, and Brighton Science Festival.

Russell joined the University of Bath in September 2016 to study phytoplankton morphology and its influence on turbulent interactions. As well as field data, the project involves empirical data gathering via mesocosm experiments leading to the production of 3D-printed scale models of phytoplankton cells.  You can follow him on twitter here.


Public Engagement using the Marine Sciences

As the role of the university within the local and global community evolves, being able to engage those in research outside of academia is becoming more important. Done correctly public engagement in the sciences can inspire and enthuse others in research areas / topics that they were previously unaware of while also providing the researcher with a plethora of benefits.

Watch Russell’s MLML seminar presentation below: