6-8 June 2018

University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

We are excited to host the SILICAMICS 2 conference at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. (Canada) from Wednesday June 6 to Friday June 8, 2018.  Please note that SILICAMICS 2 will take place on the week before the ASLO 2018 conference at the Victoria Conference Center in the same city. 


The first SILICAMICS conference held in l'Aber Wrac'h (near Brest, France) in September 2015 provided an extraordinary opportunity to develop interdisciplinary connections between researchers with expertise and interest in silicification and silicifiers and to learn about the latest advances in the silicon world.  This conference concluded with the organization of a special issue in Frontiers in Marine Science, that includes 14 manuscripts, currently in review or accepted, and a review paper in Nature Geoscience (Tréguer et al., 2017).

We would like to build on the success of this first conference and hold a follow-up gathering in June 2018. 

Please mark your calendars to attend SILICAMICS 2 in beautiful British Columbia!


The conference aims to develop an integrative approach that includes chemistry, biogeochemistry, biochemistry, physiology and genomics to better understand biosilicification and silicifiers in past, contemporary and future oceans.

Silicifiers are among the most important organisms on planet Earth. They are able to take advantage of the abundance of silicon (the second-most-abundant element in the Earth's crust) to build silica structures, which can help for protection against predators, for motility, or for facilitating the penetration of light and nutrients. At the same time, silicifiers have a paramount impact on the cycling of silicon and other nutrients in marine waters.

This transdisciplinary conference focuses on the marine realm, for which numerous unknowns still remain regarding the global marine silica cycle. Marine diatoms have dominated over siliceous sponges and radiolarians over the last 150 M years. Today diatoms play a key role in the trophic networks of the most productive coastal and open-ocean ecosystems, as well as in the biology-mediated transfer of CO2 from the surface to the ocean interior (the so-called biological carbon pump). The physiology and biochemistry of biosilicification have been studied in diatoms and other silicifiers but many gaps remain regarding mechanisms, evolutionary significance, variations in response to environmental change and the impact of these processes on marine biogeochemistry.  Moreover, benthic diatoms and their role in coastal ecosystems have been largely overlooked despite significant contributions to coastal primary production. Along the same vein, the roles of other siliceous organisms, such as benthic sponges, radiolarians and silicoflagellates in the silica cycle need to be quantified at a global scale. Accumulation of silica in non-siliceous picocyanobacteria has also been shown but the reasons and mechanisms behind such process are still unknown.

In the last 25 years, the genomes of several diatom species have been sequenced. Scientific programs (such as Tara Oceans and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s projects) have provided additional DNA sequence information from diatoms as well as from other silicifying organisms. Genomics data can now be exploited to address fundamental research questions about the role of different silicifiers in coastal and open-open ecosystems, and their controls on C, N, P, and Si biogeochemical cycles. Additional knowledge is also being acquired about interactions between silicifiers and other organisms at different spatial and temporal scales, and their impact on nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning are beginning to be addressed. It is an exciting time for seeking new opportunities to study the biology of ocean silicification processes.  This conference will facilitate the exchange of information between scientists from different ‘silicon’ disciplines and expertise with the aim of moving forward in our understanding of the impact of silicifiers on Earth.

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