Training in Tropical Taxonomy

2011 Courses

Pan American Advanced Studies Institute: Advanced Tunicate Biology: Integrating Modern and Traditional Techniques for the Study of Ascidians

June 9 – 30, 2011
Bocas del Toro Research Station
Registration Fee:
(Includes room and board): $800

Rachel Collin, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
Gretchen Lambert, University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories
Rosana Rocha, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brasil


Flier [ in PDF 151 Kb]

Sponsored by

National Science Foundation

This course is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OISE-1034665, ³PASI: Advanced Tunicate Biology: Integrating Modern and Traditional Techniques for the Study of Ascidians". Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Expert Instructors

List of participating experts

Course Participants

List of Course participants

Course Description

This is a 3-week course for advanced international graduate students, post-docs, and young investigators in state-of-the-art methods and concepts for the study of sea squirts (ascidians/tunicates, Phylum Chordata).

These invertebrate chordates are the sister group to the vertebrates and are the subject of one of the hottest research areas at present: elucidating and understanding the phylogenetic origin of the vertebrates and the origin of vertebrate patterns of embryology, endocrinology, immunology, and other systems. Benthic tunicates are rapidly increasing in profile and importance, as local anthropogenic introductions lead to the rapid invasion of exotic species in coastal areas around the world. Similarly, recent studies highlight the importance of ascidians for the extraction of compounds effective against tropical diseases and cancer.

The PASI will combine lectures, laboratory exercises, and fieldwork led by a diverse group of established experts and young professionals in one of the richest ascidian faunas of the Caribbean (Bocas del Toro, Panama).

The workshop will include:

All these, as well as a thorough grounding in basic physiology and developmental biology, which are necessary to a full understanding of ascidian biology. The application of modern bioinformatics and molecular methods has been key in the recent rejuvenation of systematic and taxonomic studies. This intensive training in modern biodiversity methods combined with strengthening of traditional approaches will foster the development of new ideas and methods, which will advance tunicate biology throughout the Americas and the world.