ISOP funds 2 competitive symposia at every yearly meeting, each with 3/4 speakers. The fall prior to the yearly meeting an open call for proposals is sent to the ISOP membership, evaluated by the ISOP Program Committee (see members below); the top 2 are selected. The proposals have to be presented by ISOP members (Speakers do NOT need to be ISOP members). Proposals consist of a title, summary of the theme of the symposium, a short list of potential speakers, affiliations and references with justification of the importance, relevance and timeliness of the topic. The main criteria for bestowing an award are: (1) excellence and timeliness, (2) distinctiveness from prior symposia, (3) intention to submit a review, or series of reviews, to the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology based on the symposium.

For exciting 2019 ISOP funded symposia, the new ISOP Advances sessions and for a full program of the 2019 ECOP-ISOP joined meeting in Rome, visit and REGISTER to attend!


1. Mixotrophic Planktonic Protists: Living with the “Perfect Beast”. Symposium Coordinators: Aditee Mitra Swansea University UK and and Per Juel Hansen University of Copenhagen Denmark

Most protists labelled as phytoplankton, and at least 50% of those labelled as microzooplankton, are actually mixotrophs. We have now mapped the distribution of mixotrophs across global oceans from the poles to the equator and have found these to be ubiquitous common organisms during each and every season. This presents marine science with a range of challenges, some of which have profound consequences for matters of societal concern (fisheries and allied ecology, including harmful algal blooms, and water quality regulation), as well as for teaching and training of marine-facing protistologists. Understanding the modes through which protist plankton exhibit mixotrophy, and the competitive advantage that this bestows on the individual species6 presents science with a range of challenges. Those challenges exist at all sectors of our science and society – physiology, molecular biology, ecology, laboratory, field, survey, modelling, management and policy – all these require some level of reinterpretation in light of this new paradigm. This symposium seeks to bring together experts in different, yet synergistic, aspects of this challenge to help develop a roadmap for protist plankton science.


  • Diane Stoecker (Horn Point Lab, Maryland, USA): Mixotrophs – HABs and food webs
  • George McManus (University of Connecticut, USA): Mixotrophs and challenges for experimental studies
  • Fabrice Not (Station Biologique de Roscoff, France): Mixotrophs and challenges for molecular biology/ecology
  • Aditee Mitra Swansea University, UK Mixotrophs and challenges for modelling

2. All Roads Lead to Rome: Comparing Molecular and Cellular Paths to Eukaryotic Multicellularity. Symposium Coordinators: Michelle Leger and Sebastián Najie, Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), Barcelona, Spain)

The aim of the proposed symposium is to bring together scientists working on a range of topics relating to the origins of multicellularity in a variety of unicellular eukaryotic lineages, to promote the exchange of ideas between them and develop a comparative view of the molecular and cellular paths that lead to multicellularity in eukaryotes. It will also foster interchange between members of the ISOP community, and researchers working on protists who nevertheless might not generally think of themselves as protistologists, or attend ISOP meetings. As a result, we hope that ISOP members will be able to forge new contacts, and that researchers who work on the origins of multicellularity will be encouraged to include less well-studied eukaryotes in their research.


  • Pauline Schaap (University of Dundee, UK): Evolution of multicellular development in the Dictyostelia from an Amoebozoan stress response
  • Alexander Tice (Mississippi State University, USA): Comparing paths to multicellularity in amoeboid protists
  • Thibaut Brunet (University of California, Berkeley, USA): Choanoflagellates and the origin of animal contractile cells
  • László Nagy (Biological Research Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary): Not all follow the same road: fungi took a unique evolutionary path to multicellularity
ISoP Advances: Updates on Tools and/or Protocols to Study Protists

1. Ten years of metabarcoding: what have we learned and how do we move forward?
ISop Advances Coordinators: Luciana Santoferrara and George McManus, University of Connecticut, USA

During the last decade, high-throughput metabarcoding has become nearly routine to analyze protist diversity and distribution in nature. Amid a multitude of exiting findings, scientists have also identified and addressed technical and biological limitations, although problems still exist for inference of meaningful phylogenetic and ecological knowledge based on short DNA sequences. Given the extensive use of this approach, it is urgent to settle our understanding of its strengths and drawbacks and, more importantly, to explore how to move forward methodologically and conceptually. This session will examine the ‘state of the art’ in protist metabarcoding and new cutting-edge ideas that advance the field. We will address questions such as, how can we make metabarcoding more informative and accurate? Are we ready to transition from method validation and field exploration to testing ecologically-relevant hypotheses? And, how can we integrate metabarcoding with other technologies to gain insights on physiology and functions?


  • Luciana Santoferrara (University of Connecticut, USA): Strengths and limitations of metabarcoding for assessing aquatic protist communities
  • Fabien Burki (Uppsala University, Sweden): A novel metabarcoding method using long-read sequences for improved taxonomic and phylogenetic resolution of protist communities in soil
  • Ramiro Logares (Institute of Marine Sciences, Spain): Hypothesis testing and inference of ecological patterns from large marine metabarcoding datasets
  • Sabine Filker (University of Kaiserslautern, Germany): Metabarcoding as a basis to study halotolerance using ciliate cultures and laboratory experiments

2. Applications of Genetic Tools for Advancing Research on Marine Protists
ISoP Advances Coordinators: Virginia Edgcomb, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, USA and Julius Lukes, Institute of Parasitology, Czech Republic

Recent investment by the Moore Foundation has greatly advanced the development of genetic tools for marine protists. While development of tools is ongoing for representativeness of diverse protist lineages, significant advances for particular taxa open the possibility for new investigations of genes of unknown function, evolution, and ecological roles of those (and possibly closely related) taxa. This symposium will present the latest advances for selected taxa and will provide examples of new lines of investigation made possible with these new tools.


  • Binnypreet Kaur (Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Sciences): Diplonema papillatum, a representative of the highly diverse and abundant marine microeukaryotes, can be genetically manipulated
  • Ross Waller (Cambridge University): Transforming Dinozoa: steps forward and steps back”.
  • Fatma Gomaa – (Harvard University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): Tools for stable integrative transfection of Bodo saltans: A micro-eukaryote with polycistronic peptide coding genes
  • Jackie Collier (Stony Brook University): Developing molecular genetic tools for thraustochytrids and other labyrinthulomycetes
  • Cristina Miceli (University of Camerino, Italy): Genome organization in marine ciliates and gene manipulation in Euplotes
Ciliate Symposium to Celebrate Denis Lynn


Information provided by Avelina Espinosa, ISOP Program Committee Chair (aespinosa[a]

2018-2019 Program Committee members:

  • Avelina Espinosa – Chair
  • Chris Lane
  • Gaytha Langlois
  • Tomáš Pánek
  • John Dolan
  • Virginia Edgcomb
  • Alastair Simpson
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