Seagrass ecophysiology meets ecological genomics: are we ready?


Gabriele Procaccini, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale 80121, Napoli, Italy.


In March 2011, the Ecophysiology and Genetics Working Groups of the European Science Foundation COST Action ES 0906, entitled Seagrass Productivity: From Genes to Ecosystem Management, organized an exploratory workshop entitled “Linking Ecophysiology and Ecogenomics in Seagrass Systems”. The goal of the workshop was to discuss how to integrate comparative gene expression studies with physiological processes such as photosynthetic performance, carbon and nitrogen utilization and environmental adaptation. The main questions discussed for integrative research related to mechanisms of carbon utilization, light requirements, temperature effects and natural variation in pH and ocean acidification. It was concluded that the seagrass research community is still in the nascent stages of linking ecophysiology with genomic responses, as carbon and nitrogen metabolism of seagrasses have not been sufficiently well studied. Likewise, genomic approaches have only been able to assign meaningful interpretations to a handful of differentially expressed genes. Nevertheless, the way forward has been established.