Now that the 15th European Diatom Meeting has finished and most of the participants have returned home or other destinations, it is nice to reflect on the fantastic few days we have had in Ohrid, North Macedonia. We learned, for instance, that Ohrid was once called Lichnidos, meaning the “city of light”. We also learned that it was ruled by several empires, that Macedonians like to eat and drink and have fun. That 19:30 can also mean 20:00, that the taxi prices can change one day to another to the same destination. But, most importantly, that Macedonians can organise great diatom meetings.

With the interesting plenary lectures, we learned how adaptive radiation resulted in the huge diversity of cichlid fishes in African great lakes; about the mysteries of the diatom chloroplast; and we got a detailed insight on how palaeolimnological studies on diatoms can help us to understand ancient lake ecosystems:

Plenary Lectures:

  • Walter Salzburger, Zoological Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland - Explosive diversification in Darwin's Dreampond: The cichlid fishes of Lake Tanganyika
  • Richard Dorrell, Laboratory of Computational and Quantitative Biology of the Sorbonne Université, Paris, France - Understanding the dark matter of the diatom chloroplast
  • Anson W. Mackay, Department of Geography, University College London, United Kingdom - The palaeolimnological significance of ancient diatoms in ancient lakes

From all talks, 13 were given by students, all being well presented studies with a high diversity of topics: taxonomy, ecology, physiology, palaeoecology and application. Furthermore, students also prepared 25 posters, presenting their high quality research in diatom study. The three best student presentations and posters were selected based on the participants’ votes, being the following:

Best oral presentations:

  • 1st prize: Maria Vittoria Tenci (Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Italy) – Benthic diatom communities in two proglacial lakes with different glacial influence (Cevedale glacier, Italy)
  • 2nd prize: Cécile Figus (Institute of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of Szczecin, Poland) – Major change in the distribution of diatomite deposits in the middle Eocene (~44 MA)
  • 3rd prize: Tereza Vosičká (Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Czech Republic) – Life beneath the glacier: Unravelling the diatom diversity in changing streams of glacial floodplains

Best poster presentations:

  • 1st prize: Raquel Sao Miguel (Laboratory for Innovation and Sustainability of Marine Biological Resources (ECOMARE), Department of Biology, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), University of Aveiro) – Obtaining and functionalizing three-dimensional hollow diatom frustules from cultivated biomass: a new technological platform for drug delivery applications
  • 2nd prize: Neda Raposka (Institute of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje) – Diversity and Distribution of Sellaphora and Placoneis species from Lake Tanganyika
  • 3rd prize: Mimoza Dani (Phycology Group, Faculty of Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany) – Molecular and ecophysiological variability among Achnanthidium strains

The social events, gala dinner and excursion further strengthened the great diatomist community, creating new friendships, professional relationships, future collaborations. After three days of talks, a taxonomy workshop, including theory and practice, was held by Bart van de Vijver (Meise Botanic Garden, Belgium). It helped us to get an insight into the history and mysteries of the taxonomy of the genera Staurosira and Staurosirella. Despite the tiredness from the previous night’s social event, it was absolutely worth participating in it and getting huge knowledge about these taxa.

Finally, the conference was closed by a get-together event organised by the Young ISDR team for the students and early-career colleagues. The aim was to introduce the profile and activity of ISDR and Young ISDR, and to promote networking which is the core of a fruitful and happy research career.