Meeting: Catalysis Meeting

Evolution and community ecology of host-associated microbiota

Date6-Oct-2014 ~ 8-Oct-2014
ProjectEvolution and community ecology of host-associated microbiota
SummaryStudies characterizing the composition of host-associated (mostly human) microbiota under different conditions, such as healthy or diseased state, age progression, contrasting diets, etc. have skyrocketed in the past 5 years. There is a growing recognition that host-associated, especially the gut-associated microbiota influences host metabolism, immune responses and overall wellbeing. Understanding how the community of gut microbes evolved and functions requires applying ecological and evolutionary principles. We propose to bring together evolutionary biologists, community ecologists, microbial ecologists and medical microbiologists to develop a synthesis of the existing studies and a roadmap to move the field forward. In particular, we aim to determine what evolutionary and ecological principles can be applied to the existing data and what new data need to be gathered to increase our understanding of the biotic interactions among the gut microbes and the host. To move from describing patterns to understanding the processes, we need to develop novel mechanistic frameworks. Eco-evolutionary trait-based approaches can be a useful framework to understand the role of competitive, mutualistic and other interactions in structuring microbiota and regulating functioning. So far, there has been little interaction across relevant disciplines and this may hinder our progress in understanding the microbiota-host interactions. This meeting will help break the disciplinary barriers, establish new collaborations and achieve synergy in the analysis and synthesis of the ecology and evolution of the host-associated microbiota.