Microorganisms are exciting model systems to study how ecology and evolution interact. Microbes evolve rapidly and individual strains/species are part of large, diverse communities that can colonize a wide range of environments (from within a human, to the ocean, to polluted environments). Furthermore, microorganisms typically coexist in complex ecological communities and engage in varied interactions, at both the intra- and inter-specific levels.
Recent work has shown that ecological interactions can affect the available evolutionary paths, the rate of adaptation, and its end point. On the other hand, a species’ evolutionary history may affect the diversity, strength, and type of interactions within a community. Taken together, this supports the existence of a real-time feedback loop between ecology and evolution in microbial communities. These bidirectional interactions between evolution and ecology are known as eco-evolutionary dynamics.
However, despite the mounting evidence for the importance of eco-evolutionary dynamics in microorganisms, the study of ecological and evolutionary processes in microbes are still largely independent endeavours.
In order to consolidate our understanding of microbial eco-evolutionary dynamics, integration of traditionally distinct fields in microbial research (such as experimental evolution, comparative genomics, ecological interactions, and theoretical biology) is needed. This symposium is centered on understanding how the interplay of ecology, evolution, and environmental/temporal variation can shape microbial diversity.
This meeting aims to discuss recent developments in microbial eco-evolutionary dynamics research and serve as a venue for integrating the results obtained by studying microbial evolution and ecology from different research fields. By bringing together experts on different aspects of microbial evolution and ecology, we hope to facilitate the development of new research strategies to better understand the generation and maintenance of microbial diversity.
This symposium will focus on three central themes:
The objectives of this meeting are to:
The symposium will be held on 22-24 October 2018 (see our program) at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal (more info).