[Seminar] Don’t assume that you know me! The dangers of biological preconceptions and the fascinating diversity of life.


Tuesday, October 17, 2023 - 11:00 to 12:00


Lab4 L4F01 Seminar Room


Seminar title: Don’t assume that you know me! The dangers of biological preconceptions and the fascinating diversity of life.


Dr. Octavio Ruben Salazar Moya, Research Scientist of Marine Science, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).


Climate change poses challenges that urgently require our attention. It threatens to result in major environmental alterations, endangering sensitive ecosystems, water availability, and ultimately food security. In order to ameliorate the effects of climate change, it is crucial that we have an understanding of the biology of the endangered organisms. However, most of our knowledge of biological systems stems from model organisms such as C. elegans, Drosophila or mice. It might be imprudent to assume that all organisms have equal capabilities and resort to the same metabolic pathways. After all, species have adapted to thrive in different environments, and in the process, they must have obtained and lost different functionalities that allow for their adaptation to diverse conditions. Thus, it is imperative to exercise caution when extrapolating knowledge from model organisms into emerging systems. This seminar aims to exemplify how the study of non-model organisms can surprise us, reshape, and question our understanding of biological systems. For this purpose, we will go through three case studies. The first one relates how the analysis of the genome of the coral Acropora loripes led to the identification of an amino acid biosynthesis pathway previously not described in animals, which was also found to be present throughout eukaryotes. The second case study explores the incredibly peculiar genomic organization of Symbiodinium microadriaticum, which shows a structural and genomic organization not found in any other organism. Lastly, we will examine what the study of one of the most salt tolerant plant species on the planet can reveal about salt tolerance mechanisms at a molecular and physiological level. After the seminar, attendees will leave with an understanding of the importance of developing non-model organisms and the necessity to approach them with as little preconceptions as possible, as life constantly surprises us and shows us that we still have much to learn.


Dr. Salazar is a Research Scientist in the Coral Symbiomics Lab at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. He earned his Ph.D. in 2017, focusing on studying the mechanisms driving the salt tolerance of plant halophytes. Afterwards, he joined Professor Aranda’s laboratory, where he has dedicated himself to the study of corals and their peculiar dinoflagellate endosymbionts.

He is interested in understanding the biology of organisms that may contribute to the sustainability of humans and the environment. His research has primarily focused on the study of non-model organisms, as he thinks that we can find answers to important questions by looking at diverse forms of life. He has worked with Salicornia, one of the most salt tolerant plants on the planet, and studied corals and Symbiodiniaceae, trying to understand more about these crucial reef-forming organisms. By using a combination of -omics approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics, together with experimental validation, he has revealed key and distinctive molecular mechanisms of these organisms.

Salazar’s work aims towards environmental conservation and food security, which are increasingly threatened by climate change.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 968 3210 6084 | Passcode: 933459

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