The 8th European Phycology Congress (EPC8), co-organised by Philippe Potin (Station Biologique de Roscoff – SBR) and Solène Connan (LEMAR-IUEM-UBO) under the auspices of the Federation of European Phycological Societies (FEPS) and the French Phycological Society (SPF), was held from 20 to 26 August at Brest Arena. Supported by the Région Bretagne, the Conseil Départemental du Finistère and Brest Métropole, as well as the University of Western Brittany and ISblue, the conference brought together nearly 600 researchers, teacher-researchers, doctoral students and Masters students from 41 countries whose research focuses on algae, whether micro- or macroalgae living in freshwater or marine environments.

Plenary presentations took place each day, focusing on the reproduction of red macroalgae, the diversity and adaptation of phytoplankton, diatoms and light, and kelp forests (Laminariales). Oral presentations and posters were grouped into 20 symposia in 6 sessions ranging from taxonomy, phylogenomics and biotechnology to primary production, the role of algae in ecosystems and algae and the general public. On Wednesdays, excursions (Molène, Crozon, Roscoff, Plouguerneau) or workshops were offered. Some twenty companies, including local seaweed processing companies, as well as the Chambre Syndicale des Algues et Végétaux Marines and the Cluster Algues-Bretagne, were represented and sponsored the conference.

Participants were also able to admire an exhibition entitled “Immersion in the heart of algae” at the “Arts and Sciences” interface, focusing on the fascinating world of algae, whether planktonic and microscopic or forming vast underwater forests off our coasts. This immersive exhibition featured original works by artists inspired by marine algae, such as Caroline Desnoëttes‘ IGLOO OPUS II, in which sounds recorded in kelp forests by Lucia Di Iorio were played back, magnificent photographs of macro- and microalgae (photographers: Erwan Amice, Wilfried Thomas, Sébastien Colin & Marie Walde) and the “Planctonarium” dome created as part of the Plankton Planet project.

In addition, on Monday 21 August, an evening event for the general public on the theme of “Intriguing Algae: Cooking, Cultivating, Understanding” was hosted by Vincent Doumeizel (UN Global Seaweed Coalition) drew nearly 300 people who came to see the exhibition and listen to presentations by Line Le Gall (MNHN) on seaweed, Hugo Morel (Bord à Bord) on cooking with seaweed, who also offered a tasting of seaweed tartars and chips, Martial Laurans (Ifremer) on harvesting and cultivating seaweed and Marine Landa (SBR) on their microbiome.

During EPC8, the French Phycological Society organised an auction on the evening of Tuesday 22 August with objects, books and paintings brought in by delegates.

Conference participants came away delighted with the organisation (many thanks to the student volunteers!) and the scientific programme of the conference put together by Inka Bartsch (AWI, Bremerhaven, Germany) and Wiebe Kooistra (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy), the exhibition, the venue (Brest-Arena), the meals served during the conference (with many local dishes), the excursions or workshops and the gala evening organised at the Capucins during which they were able to dance to Breton music!

And now it’s on to the organisation of EPC9 in Krakow, Poland in 2027!