Yasumoto Award

Dr. Michael A. Quilliam:

The ISSHA 2016 Yasumoto Award was given to Dr. Michael A. Quilliam (Canada) for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the field of algal toxin chemistry and analysis.

We the undersigned, nominate Mike Quilliam for the 2016 Yasumoto Lifetime Achievement Award. Sound toxin chemistry is at the core of HAB research. While previous Yasumoto awardees have all been HAB biologists and ecologists, Mike is a most worthy recipient as a leading analytical chemist in the field, following in the footsteps of Prof Yasumoto himself. His life-time work covers amnesic, diarrhetic, paralytic, azaspiracid, cyclic imine and cyanobacterial toxins, including the identification of many new toxin structural analogues from both marine and freshwater environments. The ‘toolbox’ of novel analytical methods and Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) developed by his group are now used routinely in research and regulatory laboratories worldwide and have resulted in a paradigm shift in the way algal toxins are monitored.

Mike graduated in 1977 with a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Manitoba based on research into new organosilicon reagents for synthesis, chromatography and mass spectrometry of nucleic acids. During post-doctoral research at Univ. Montréal and a subsequent appointment with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment he developed further experience in mass spectrometry and delved into the analytical chemistry of environmental contaminants. From 1978 to 1987, he served as Assistant and later Associate Professor of Chemistry at McMaster University focusing on detection and identification of carcinogens and their metabolites. During this time, he did some of the first work in Canada on the now standard interfacing of liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC-MS). In 1987, he joined the National Research Council Canada (NRCC), where he is now a Principal Research Officer for Biotoxin Measurement Science. He also holds an Adjunct Professorship in Chemistry at Dalhousie University. His research at NRCC has focused on the analytical chemistry of toxic substances and the production of CRMs. He has worked on various environmental and food contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic compounds and veterinary drug residues, but his main focus has been on marine and freshwater biotoxins.

Mike has published more than 240 refereed papers and book chapters, over 90 CRM certification reports, and numerous technical reports. He was from 1994 to 2002 General Referee for Phycotoxins in AOAC International and from 1997 to 2001 Chairman of the APEC Task Team on Analytical Methods and Standards for Marine Algal Toxins. He served on numerous national and international committees on shellfish toxins, such as Joint FAO/IOC/WHO Expert Group on Biotoxins in Molluscan Bivalves reporting to the CODEX Alimentarius Commission’s Committee on Fish and Fishery Products in 2004/5. He co-organized many symposia and conferences such as toxin sessions at AOAC and the HABTech2003 Workshop on Technologies for Monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms and Marine Biotoxins in New Zealand. He has collaborated with over 150 young and established scientists, many of whom spent time training in his laboratory. Many of these scientists now play key roles in their countries in diverse fields of toxin research and monitoring. Acknowledging his accomplishments he was previously awarded the 1988 NRCC President’s Award for discovering domoic acid, 1993 US-FDA Recognition Award, 1994 Caledon Award, 2005 AOAC Harvey W. Wiley, 2011 AOAC Reference Materials Award, and the 2016 Maxxam Award for distinguished contribution to the field of analytical chemistry in Canada. He was included in the 2013 and 2015 Analytical Scientist’s ‘Power List’ of 100 most influential people in the field of analytical chemistry internationally.

Prof. Allan Cembella

His long and productive scientific career has been entirely devoted to HABs, starting with his graduate work with Max Taylor in the 1980s. In his early studies of Alexandrium, he was among the first to use toxin composition as a characteristic to distinguish among different strains or isolates, and was also the first to use enzyme electrophoresis to provide yet another perspective on intra-species heterogeneity. It may seem obvious that there is extensive heterogeneity with a species in these times of powerful molecular tools, but in those days, the methods for that type of investigation were far more limited and experimental, and Allan was at the forefront of that phase of discovery.

Allan continued his studies of Alexandrium after he moved to eastern Canada. At that time, he co-authored a paper with Christophe Destombe on the sexuality and mating dynamics of Alexandrium that remains a classic resource to this day. He and Destombe also published the first sequences for Alexandrium, opening the door to decades of work on phylogeny and molecular detection methods in that genus and many others. That was also the time he discovered the spirolide toxins and linked them to the source organism, Alexandrium ostenfeldii – a very nice piece of biological and chemical detective work. He remains the world’s authority on spirolides. Some years later, Allan repeated this accomplishment by assembling a team at the Alfred Wegener Institute that solved the mystery of the source of azaspiracids, which until then had incorrectly been linked to a Protoperidinium species. Many of us consider that body of work to be a scientific tour de force, as in a very short period of time, the causative organism was identified, its taxonomic and phylogenetic affinities revealed, its toxin diversity elucidated, and its global biogeography defined. Allan Cembella thus has the unique distinction of being the only person in the HAB field who has been the first to identify and fully characterize the source organisms for two major toxin families. Allan has also been heavily involved in studies of allelopathy and in genetic studies of a variety of toxic HAB species, in collaboration with colleagues in many parts of the world. His scientific productivity is exemplary, with nearly 200 peer-reviewed papers on a wide array of topics in the HAB field.

In addition to his many scientific accomplishments, Allan has been heavily involved in HAB community activities, including serving on the Scientific Steering Committee of GEOHAB and chairing one of the Core Research Projects – on HABs in Fjords and Embayments. He served as Vice President of ISSHA, and has been a longstanding member of the ICES/IOC Working Group on Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics (WGHABD), and has also been the German representative at many meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel for HABs (IPHAB).

Allan Cembella is a leader and highly respected member of the HAB community, with great scientific accomplishments, strong leadership skills at many levels, and a willingness to devote his time and intellect to that community and the field. He has been an enthusiastic and effective mentor to many of the undersigned, as well as to many other students and young scientists worldwide. In addition to his educational activities in Germany, he is heavily involved and committed to HAB projects and education in Latin America, with students and projects in Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

In summary, Allan Cembella is a creative thinker with broad and significant impacts in HAB research, as well as major contributions to the policy and educational aspects of our field. He has always been one of the most creative and productive members of our community, and has positively impacted all of our lives and careers.

The Patrick Gentien Young Scientist Award

Dr. Dedmer B. van de Waal.

 Dedmer Van de Waal (age 34) received his PhD in June 2010, and currently has a tenure-track position at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. Dedmer has substantially contributed to the conceptualization of harmful algae research. His most outstanding work couples the production of stoichiometrically distinct toxins to the elemental composition of its producer, and thus linking toxin production to the general ecological framework of Ecological Stoichiometry. Doing so, he has worked across salinity boundaries and his experimental work includes various marine dinoflagellate as well as freshwater cyanobacteria species.

Dedmer not only has a cumulative record related to this work, but also two ‘breakthrough’ papers in Ecology Letters, the second highest ecological journal for which he recently also became member of the Editorial Board. Beyond this topic, his publication record is impressive (currently 29 publications) and rapidly expanding.

Dedmer contributed substantially to the studies on the effects of climate change on harmful algae, notably the impacts of elevated pCO2. His work crosses a range of organizational scales, from the regulation of genes, to eco-physiological responses (carbon and nutrient acquisition), and resource competition. Besides, his recent work includes the role of genetic diversity and phenotypic traits in the success of toxic algal blooms.Finally, Dedmer is an exceptionally creative thinker, ambitious, and active in the field of harmful algal research. He does not only bring harmful algal research to a broader scientific audience, but is also actively communicating HAB topics and respective research to the public, with various recent appearances on the Dutch national radio. Moreover, he is determined to connect HAB scientists and water managers of the Netherlands by organizing annual meetings.


Maureen Keller Students Awards

Alexis Fisher (Oral Presentation)

Best student oral presentation was awarded to Alexis Fischer, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, for her contribution on “Quantifying the chilling requirement for germinability of natural Alexandrium fundyense resting cysts”, co-authored with Michael Brosnahan and her advisor, Donald Anderson. A California-native, Alexis moved to New England to attend Wellesley College, where she graduated with a B.A. in Biology in 2010. After a year working on Vibrio cholerae ecology and evolution as a research technician at the University of Alberta, she returned to New England to begin her PhD on another toxic marine microbe: Alexandrium fundyense. She quickly became immersed in the Anderson laboratory’s intensive field program in the Nauset Marsh system (Cape Cod, MA), where A. fundyense form recurrent blooms. Fascinated by the seasonality of the life cycle of A. fundyense, Alexis began to investigate how environmental and internal factors regulated excystment. Almost 30 years since her advisor discovered the endogenous annual clock in Gulf of Maine cysts, her research now addresses many of the lingering mysteries of cyst dormancy. The work presented quantifies how A. fundyense cysts use the environmental cue of winter chilling to restrict their germination until spring when favorable growth conditions are more likely to be sustained. This chilling response is a mechanism through which A. fundyense, and perhaps many other dinoflagellates, match the timing of germination to their environment, thereby maximizing bloom potential in a variety of temperature regimes and habitats. Currently, she is writing up her dissertation research, which includes experimental, observational, and modeling approaches, and considers how A. fundyense bloom phenology in Nauset may be affected by a changing climate.

Jacqueline Jerney (Poster Presentation)

Jacqueline Jerney, University of Helsinki working at the Finnish Environment Institute – Marine Research Center received the Maureen Keller award for her poster titled: “Genetic diversity of seed banks and seasonal genotype dynamics of Alexandrium ostenfeldii (Dinophyceae) in shallow waters of the Baltic Sea”, co-authored by Conny Sjöqvist, Sanna Suikkanen, Satoshi Nagai and Anke Kremp. Jacqueline was born in Austria, where she grew up and started her academic career. She studied ecology at the University of Vienna, focused on Limnology during her studies and found her passion for phycology on the way. Jacqueline wrote her Master’s thesis about algae turf scrubbers used for restoration of eutrophied waters and graduated in 2012. Afterwards she gained experience in the applied field of algal research at the University of Vienna, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, and the company Erber Future Business in Austria. Doing so, she started missing ecology and basic research, which prompted her to start her PhD in Finland. Currently she is working on her PhD studies, supervised by Anke Kremp and Sanna Suikkanen at the Finnish Environment Institute. The main topic is ecological and evolutionary significance of seed banks for the expansion of phytoplankton blooms in the Baltic Sea.

Marc Long

(Honorary Mentioning)

Marc Long from Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO, France) and University of Wollongong (UOW, Australia) for his contribution to “Allelochemicals released by the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum impact Chaetoceros neogracile photosystem and viability”. Marc undertook his studies in Brest, France, where he obtained a Bachelor in Biology of organisms and populations in 2013 and a Master in Marine Biology in 2015. In parallel with his university cursus, Marc has been working on phytoplankton physiology as a part-time research assistant for nearly 6 years in the laboratory of marine environmental studies (LEMAR, France) under the supervision of Dr Hélène Hégaret and Dr Philippe Soudant. During his cursus, he also undertook overseas internships at the University Of Wollongong (Australia) under the supervision of A/Prof D. Jolley and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, United States) in Milford Connecticut, always working with phytoplankton physiology with Dr Gary H. Wikfors.
The work presented at ICHA2016 were obtained from his first year of PhD and highlighted the impact of the unknown allelochemicals exudated by A. minutum on the diatom Chaetoceros neogracile physiology (primarily investigating at photosystem II and cell membranes) to better understand allelochemicals mode of action. During his PhD Marc aims to characterize the allelopathic activity from the dinoflagellate Alexandrium. To do so Marc has developed a standardized bioassay with algal cells. For the next two year of his PhD project, his main objective will be to further investigate allelochemicals mode of action and to chemically characterize the nature of allelochemicals that may also have other cytotoxic activities.

Suema Branco

(Honorary Mentioning)

Suema Branco was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She joined the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2006 to do the bachelor of biology. Dr. Mariângela Menezes supervised her academic studies since internship to master and Ph.D. projects. In 2012, Branco obtained her master´s degree in Botany from UFRJ, whose subject of study was the taxonomy, ecology, and toxicity of marine species of Raphidophytes isolated from the Brazilian coast. In 2016 concluded her doctorate at the UFRJ. Her thesis project was on taxonomy and phylogeny of many strains of planktonic marine dinoflagellates isolated from a tropical Brazilian estuary, mainly focusing on the potentially harmful species. In her thesis, she described a new species of Alexandrium, Alexandrium fragae. She is currently a collaborating researcher in the Phycology Laboratory at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro / UFRJ. Her primary interest is the taxonomy of harmful microalgae and the application of molecular tools in these studies.