SMBE satellite meeting on evolution of microbes in natural and experimental populations: synthesis and synergies

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to be invited to a Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) Meeting aimed to bridge the divide between scientists studying microbial evolution in the lab (mainly through experimental evolution) and scientists studying evolution of microbes ‘in the wild’ (mainly through genome sequencing). As I have found myself in experimental evolution labs studying natural variation, and in a microbial ecology lab attempting experimental evolution, crossing this divide is a topic close to my heart! The meeting was jointly organized by scientist at Tezpur University in India and the University of Bath in the UK and took place in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, a state in the not-so-often visited North East of India. The 30+ hour door-to-door travel was certainly worth it however. Small meetings in relatively secluded venues have the advantage that it is much easier to talk to people. The meeting included several very good talks by young researchers who were awarded travel grants, ranging from topics as diverse as biofilm formation, linkage disequilibrium and plasmid transfer. Each session ended with a general discussion which greatly facilitated trying to bridge research divides and identifying challenges. Included in the meeting was a mini-safari through the park, in which we saw a variety of birds, deer, monkeys and the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) from up close! In short, a stimulating meeting: scientifically, socially and culturally!

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