Monday, July 20, 2015

ChallenGen at the 8​th International Tunicate Meeting (Aomori, Japan, 13­-17 July, 2015)

by Xavier Turon

Ascidians (Halocynthia roretzi) exhibited at the meeting venue... Can you believe that Japanese people eat them and consider them a delicacy?... I tried, between us, it is disgusting for my western taste.
The International Tunicate Meeting was held this year in Japan. I attended it and presented an oral communication about “Utility of the metabarcoding approach for the determination of tunicate in environmental DNA samples” (with Owen, Cruz, Magdalena, and Iosune Uriz).

I was happy to present in the first morning of the meeting, and could thus relax for the rest of the sessions. The meeting was very interesting, particularly the final discussion about the correct names of the species in the complex C​iona intestinalis.​ It seems that the species whose genome we sequenced, whose development has been studied all over the world, one of the best investigated invertebrate species, should be called C​iona robusta! ​I was called in as an expert taxonomist (an endangered species, btw) and had my saying on it, not to the likings of everyone, to be honest. I guess the controversy will continue for some time.

I also took advantage of my trip to sample D​idemnum vexillum​ in its native area. Dr. Gretchen Lambert was kind enough to give me some samples from the South collected during a pre­meeting course. I could collect myself in the Aomori Marine Station thanks to the help of Dr. Gaku Kumano. Overall, it was an enjoyable trip and experience.