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USJI Seminar

The USJI capitalizes on the networks it has cultivated within Washington D.C. to organize seminars which feature Japanese and U.S. politicians, representatives from governmental bodies, researchers from think tanks, major companies and universities and other intellectuals. The seminars address timely themes and afford participants opportunities for discussion with the speakers.

Enigmas of the alkenone paleothermometer: How is environmental information recorded in these molecules and how can they be best used for climate change studies?

Date and Time

Thursday, December 13, 2018 3:30p.m.-5:00p.m.


JSPS/JST, Washington Office, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
JSPS/JST Seminar Room, Washington Office, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science 2001 L Street NW, Suite 1050, Washington, DC 20036


The reconstruction of paleotemperature is critical for understanding past climate change and thereby improving predictions of future change in both atmospheric and aquatic environments. The unsaturation index of alkenones, which were discovered in marine sediments about 40 years ago, has frequently been used for the reconstruction of paleotemperature in the surface ocean, where alkenone-producers, namely haptophyte algae, grow.
The Shiraiwa Group (University of Tsukuba, Japan) has collaborated with Prof. Toney (the University of Glasgow, UK), and succeeded in isolating new alkenone-producing haptophyte strains. Further, the Shiraiwa Group identified the genes and enzymes contributing to the desaturation reaction of alkenones that cause their temperature-dependency using genetic transformation techniques. The information and technique will be useful for elucidating biosynthetic and regulatory mechanism on temperature-recording in alkenone molecules.
Prof. D’Andrea’s research is geared toward understanding global climate change, including current anthropogenic driven changes and past changes to the Earth System for the goal of developing a better understanding of how the Earth System responds to natural and human-induced perturbations. He is also focusing on the climate change in the Arctic region, one of important areas for global climate change now.
This USJI seminar will forcuss to discuss the current status of alkenone paleothermometry in the reconstruction of paleotemperature and how to best direct future research efforts on ‘The Alkenone Molecular Thermometer’ in a manner that most effectively addresses outstanding climate questions that concern paleotemperature of the oceans and inland lakes.

Moderator and Speakers

Yoshihiro Shiraiwa
Professor, University of Tsukuba


William D’Andrea
Lamont Associate Research Professor, Columbia University
Jaime L. Toney
Professor, University of Glasgow

Supported by
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Washington DC Office


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