[Coral-List] 2003 - Octocoral Workshop - minutes

js15 at buffalo.edu js15 at buffalo.edu
Fri Jul 25 10:25:12 EDT 2003

Dear coral-list members,

Please find enclosed a 4-page long PDF file (88 kb) containing the minutes 
from the 2003 - Octocoral Workshop held during the 7th International 
Conference on Coelenterate Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 
Kansas, USA, July 7-13, 2003. A PDF file will be posted in the web soon 
I want to thank once again the organizers of 
the meeting (Daphne Fautin [chair], Bob Buddemeier, Paulyn Cartwright, 
et al.) for the enourmous cooperation and patience. It was a terrific 
meeting! Thanks also to the 
attendes for their participation. Scientists interested in octocoral diversity 
and phylogeny (and 
other disciplines) will find useful information on collaborative projects and 
ideas (contacts inside the document). Let's keep in touch. Best regards,


ps. message sent to coral- and cnidaria-lists, I apologize for multiple 

Juan Armando Sanchez, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Systematic Biology &
Laboratories of Analytical Biology
Museum Support Center, MRC 534
4210 Silver Hill Rd.
Smithsonian Institution
Suitland, MD   20746, USA
Phone: +301-238-3444 x117 (AM); +202-357-2019 (PM) 
Fax: +202-357-3043
jsanchez at lab.si.edu


7th International Conference on Coelenterate Biology, University of Kansas, 
Lawrence, Kansas, USA. July 7-13, 2003.

Participants: Juan A. Sánchez (USA/Colombia); Carlos A. Sánchez-Ortiz 
(Mexico); Catherine S. McFadden (USA); Jun-Im Song (Korea); Asako 
Matsumoto (Japan); Carlo Cerrano (Italy); Anita Mary (India); Herman 
Wirshing (USA); Yehuda Benayahu (Israel); Nadiezhda Santodomingo 

1) Octocorallia classification: towards a phylogenetic understanding (July 
12, 2003, 9-12 AM).
Chair: Juan A. Sánchez
Secretary: Carlos A. Sánchez-Ortiz 
J.A. Sánchez introduced a number of new phylogenetic findings based on 
both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences that are in disagreement 
with the current taxonomic classification. The problem and the need for a 
revised classification of Octocorallia was discussed and recognized by the 
attendees. C. S. McFadden then presented phylogenetic results from a 
larger sampling of Octocorallia species using mitochondrial DNA (ND2 and 
MSH1 genes). These new findings support clades that have been 
recognized previously based on 18S and 16S ribosomal DNA sequences 
and suggest some new directions for classification of higher taxa. C. A. 
Sánchez-Ortiz then presented results of a study using different 
mitochondrial genes (ATPase6 and 8) that yielded similar results, 
corroborating the results obtained using other mitochondrial genes. A 
number of taxa that could be added to these studies were identified and 
targeted for sequencing in the near future. Collaborations among 
attendees were offered to collect new and fresh material for further 
molecular screening in search of a complete family-level Octocorallia 
phylogeny using mitochondrial DNA sequences.  
The phylogenetic resolution of the currently available molecular markers 
was discussed briefly. Mitochondrial genes appear to be useful for 
resolving genus- and family-level relationships of Octocorallia, but cannot 
resolve deeper (subordinal or ordinal) or shallower (intrageneric) 
relationships. C. A. Sánchez-Ortiz presented results suggesting that 
ribosomal ITS sequences may be useful for resolving the relationships of 
species within some genera.
	The end of the discussion, called by Y. Benayahu, was on the 
fact that the study of octocoral diversity can be enhanced by collaborative 
efforts between taxonomists and molecular systematists. This kind of 
collaboration was thought to be of great strength for securing funds in the 
future for systematic studies of Octocorallia. It was clear that we have to 
gather and publish information on the type specimens as part of any new 
systematic revisions, and also acquire DNA information from both new and 
old specimens. The idea of DNA "barcoding" for octocoral species could be 
a way to link both taxonomic and molecular work in the near future. We 
agreed to focus on ideas that could be presented as real proposals, and 
we found the Worldwide Octocoral Biodiversity (WOB) Project presented 
by C. Sánchez-Ortiz to be a good way to organize them. 

2) Worldwide Octocoral Biodiversity (WOB) Project (July 12, 2003, 2-5 PM).
Chair: Carlos A. Sánchez-Ortiz 
Secretary: Carlos Perez (Workshop organizer, could not attend), Juan A. 
Sánchez. (alternate).
	C. A. Sánchez-Ortiz presented an idea that he summarized in a 
handout about the WOB. Originally the project focused on the compilation 
of a complete list of all octocoral species plus taxonomic information. The 
idea was discussed by the group and modified to include the addition of 
new surveys (both field and molecular) and training. Finally, we modified 
the original idea of a species list database into a more elaborate web-
based bank of information similar to that being developed for Hexacorallia. 
We discussed and proposed 11 fields that every species record should 
ideally have:

1. Species name (link to higher classification & Tree of Life, TREEBASE, 
Phylogeny, etc)
2. Synonymy, authority, and references
3. Type specimens (provenance, photos) & material information (sclerites, 
4. Geographical distribution (link to GIS map of ranges)
5. Habitat features (depth, substrate)
6. Description (diagnostic characters)
7. Photographs (both living and preserved)
8. Variability and comparisons (link to taxon identification keys)
9. Sequences (Genbank accession numbers) (link to DNA BarCode if 
10. Natural products chemistry
11. Natural history (reproduction & development, physiology, symbionts)

Detailed information on WOB will be posted soon. 

- Conclusions and Future plans (July 13, 2003).

We started the day with a presentation by Marymegan Daly (U. Kansas) 
about the NSF "Assembling the Tree of Life" (AToL) grant proposal that is 
currently being organized by researchers at the University of Kansas (and 
other US institutions). The AToL initiative funds large multi-institutional 
projects "to … resolve phylogenetic relationships for large groups of 
organisms" (e.g. phyla). The U. Kansas proposal will focus on constructing 
a family-level molecular phylogeny of all cnidarians, and consequently they 
want and need the participation of octocoral researchers. Researchers 
from any country can be supported as collaborators or contractors on this 
grant. The proposal is due in May 2004; an initial draft will be discussed at 
the SICB meetings in New Orleans in January, and a nearly final draft will 
be circulated in March. We will stay in contact with the principal 
investigators (Meg Daly & Paulyn Cartwright) as the proposal is developed. 
Dauphne Fautin, conference organizer, together with all the participants of 
the bioinformatics workshop (held in parallel), joined us to discuss the 
database ideas for Octocorallia. After discussing the database briefly, we 
all decided that the Hexacoral database being developed and managed by 
her group at the U. of Kansas (http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Hexacoral/) 
would be the best place to deposit an Octocorallia database, as only minor 
modifications would be necessary to include the information fields we 
desire. The Hexacoral database is also now being expanded to include the 
Hydrozoa and Scyphozoa. We suggested the possibility of adding 
electronic documentation (e.g., PDF files) to such a database and were 
told it was a reasonable goal and included in on-going plans for the 
Overall, the value of collaborations was the main point we all agreed on. 
As for fund raising possibilities, we discussed, in addition to the AToL 
grant proposal, the possibility of applying for diverse opportunities in the 
U.S. (e.g., NSF taxonomic and biodiversity initiatives such as PEET grants), 
Mexico (CONABIO), and some others in Europe. Collaboration with 
researchers studying other organisms to explore whole faunas (e.g, 
invertebrate and vertebrate) could also be considered. An example of this 
kind of collaboration was presented by N. Santodomingo in the case of 
Colombia (Invemar). The easiest way to collaborate seemed to be to focus 
on specific, small projects but to follow some of the ideas already 
presented in order to contribute to the big picture (e.g., WOB). We also 
want to extend this collaboration to all Octocoral systematists currently 
active worldwide. We will be trying to organize another workshop during 
2004-2006 following another meeting of international relevance (e.g, Coral 
Reef Symposium or 8th ICCB). 

* Addresses of attendees (in alphabetical order).

- Yehuda Benayahu	Dept. of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv 
69978, Tel Aviv, Israel 	yehudab at tauex.tau.ac.il

- Carlo Cerrano	University of Genoa, Italy
	cerrano at dipteris.unige.it

- Anita Mary George	Institute for Environmental Research and Social 
Education (IERSE)
14/C3, Nesamony Nager, Nagercoil-629001
Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu State, INDIA
	sponge23in at yahoo.co.in
aniji5 at rediffmail.com

- Asako K. Matsumoto	Marine Ecosystems Research Department, Japan 
Marine Science and Technology Center, 
2-15, Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka, 237-0061 JAPAN
	amatsu at jamstec.go.jp
amatsu at sakura.email.ne.jp

- Catherine S. McFadden	Department of Biology
Harvey Mudd College
1250 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711 USA	mcfadden at hmc.edu

- Carlos Perez (absent)	Departamento de Zoologia - CCB
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Rua Moraes Rego 1235, Cidade Universitaria, CEP: 50670-420
Recife-PE, Brasil	cdperez at ufpe.br

- Juan Armando Sánchez	Laboratories of Analytical Biology
Museum Support Center, MRC 534
4210 Silver Hill Rd.
Smithsonian Institution
Suitland, MD   20746, USA	jsanchez at lab.si.edu

- Carlos A. Sanchez-Ortiz	Australian Institute of Marine Science, 
Townsville, Australia., or, 
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, La Paz, B.C.S. km 5.5 
carretera la sur, AP 23080, Mexico	c.sanchez at aims.gov.au
csanchez at uabcs.mx

- Nadia Santodomingo	Marine and Coastal Research Institute. INVEMAR. 
Colombia. AA 1016. +57-54214775 Ext. 144	nadiaks at invemar.org.co 

- Jun-Im Song	Department of Life Sciences, Ewha Womans 
University, Seoul 120-750, Korea	jisong at mm.ewha.ac.kr

- Herman H. Wirshing	Nova International University, 8445 sw 54ct 
Miami, FL 33143	wirshing at nova.edu, plexaura at lycos.com 

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