Meeting Abstract

S9-1  Sunday, Jan. 6 07:45 - 08:00  Introduction OKAMURA, Beth; Natural History Museum, London

Extant early diverging metazoans (Cnidaria, Ctenophora and Porifera) have survived in a changing and increasingly complex world. The interactions of these animals with their abiotic and biotic environments have shaped both their ancient and present-day patterns of development, phenotypes and, in turn, their environments. Many of these interactions are mediated by chemicals that may function in recognition (e.g. of predators, prey or suitable habitats) or are deployed as effectors. The diversity of such chemical mediators is now being revealed by whole genome and transcriptome sequencing platforms along with technical advances in proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics that provide insights on non-model systems. The aim of this symposium is to develop a post-genomic view on the forms, functions and origins of compounds that are biosynthesized in early diverging metazoans in response to environmental challenges and opportunities. Accordingly, symposium contributions will consider how these “simple” early-diverging metazoans exhibit a diversity of chemical responses to generate signaling, sensory, defensive and offensive capacities many of which are typically associated with “higher” animals. Our contributions address three general areas: the molecular basis of perception, chemicals deployed to deal with the biotic and abiotic environment, and the molecular cross-talk that characterizes intimate interactions amongst hosts, parasites and symbionts. Insights on the diversity of such chemical adaptations may afford new perspectives on the evolution of chemical mediators and promote a general understanding of functional biochemistry for an audience with fundamental interests in comparative and integrative organismal biology.