Interdisciplinary Workshop on Holobionts

November 6-8, 2017

University of Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France

Organizers: Derek Skillings and Thomas Pradeu

Workshop Description

Microbes play a significant role in the evolution, development, health, and ecological interactions of multicellular organisms. The importance of microbial interactions is now widely recognized and at the center of many new research initiatives across the life sciences. Part of this emerging research has focused on reconceptualizing all macroorganisms as “holobionts”, defined as a host and all its microbial symbionts, with the genomic complement of all partners becoming the “hologenome”. There has been extensive debate about the importance and need for such a reconceptualization, and how it will shape research and our understanding of the living world moving forward.

This workshop will bring together researchers from diverse disciplines (microbiology, evolutionary biology, ecology, pathology, neuroscience, medicine, philosophy of science) working on holobionts and host-microbe associations, in order to foster interdisciplinary communication, investigate whether there are any particular insights or fruitful general principles that emerge from investigations across fields, and hopefully stimulate collaborative research for the future.

Megan Diddie

Credit: Megan Diddie

Invited Speakers

San Diego State University

How Phage Create an Immune System: BAM Immunity & Transcytosis

Viruses, and particularly phage that infect bacteria, are the most abundant and diverse life forms on the planet. Given their success throughout the biosphere, it is expected that phage are essential members of the animal and plant holobionts. We have shown that phage form a bacterial selective, adaptive immune system that helps protect the mucosal surfaces of animals and establish the microbiome. Additionally, phage are actively transported across epithelial layers and provide a systemic protection against bacteria. These two findings strongly suggest that phage formed the first acquired immune system and they remain important in extant animal immunology.

Pasteur Institute

Co-evolution of an immunostimulatory commensal with its host

The human gastrointestinal tract is inhabited by trillions of bacteria that collectively represent up to 35,000 different species. Loss of microbial richness in the western world is correlated with metabolic dysfunction, inflammation and obesity. To what extend these missing microbes are also impacting our resistance to pathogens and fueling antibiotic use remains unknown. What is becoming clear is that individual members of the microbiota can have large effects on the host immune status. In mice, the commensal bacterium segmented filamentous bacteria, or SFB, has been shown to strongly stimulate the host immune system very early during development, leading to pathogen resistance both in and outside of the gut. As SFB is present in a wide range of vertebrates, the data suggests that a selective advantage for the presence of SFB in the microbiota to prime the host immune system may have led to the co-evolution of SFB with its host.

Abstract Submission and Workshop Registration

Registration for the workshop is required, but free. Registration details will be updated soon.

If you would like to participate by giving a talk, please submit an abstract or prospectus (up to 1000 words) HERE. Submissions should be prepared for blind review and uploaded by July 16, 2017.

We encourage talks that are general or conceptual in nature, aimed at a high-level audience of experts across associated fields.

Questions? Please email Derek Skillings.

Workshop Supported By

This workshop is part of the Immunity, DEvelopment and the Microbiota (IDEM) project, an ERC-funded project located at the interface of philosophy of biology and biology (ERC Grant #637647, PI: Thomas Pradeu).