[S21] Genetic exchange in microbial adaptation and infectious disease
Horizontal gene transfer (genetic exchange) plays a key role in microbial evolution. New insights into mechanisms and consequences of gene exchange, such as the contribution of phage-encoded genes to bacterial adaptation in the gut and CRISPR systems for bacterial immunity, are fundamentally changing our understanding of how the genetic variation that fuels evolution is created. Moreover, genetic exchange is central to the evolutionary biology of infectious disease. For example, antibiotic resistance alleles and virulence factors are often encoded on mobile elements such as plasmids. This symposium aims to bridge the gap between research on the basic evolutionary biology of genetic exchange and consequences for understanding the evolution and epidemiology of infectious diseases. We think this will make an exciting ESEB symposium because genetic exchange is a highly active field among theoretical and experimental evolutionary biologists, and its role in pathogen evolution is a clear example of how evolutionary biology can inform public health and medicine. The invited speakers are at the forefront of research on horizontal gene transfer, its role in evolution in general and in key contexts like antibiotic resistance. To minimize implicit bias in reviewing submitted abstracts we will use a blinding procedure.
Organizers: Jan Engelstaedter, Alex Hall, Ellie Harrison
Invited speakers: Didier Mazel, Alvaro San Millan