Selected symposia

for Evolutionary Biology

ESEB2019 – European Society for Evolutionary Biology

S1. Trans generational plasticity in animals

Organisers: Dalial Freitak, Olivia Roth

To keep up with the changing environment and novel challenges, organisms are required to adapt constantly. Adaptive phenotypic plasticity is achieved via an interplay between genes and intrinsic, as well as extrinsic signals manipulating their expression. This is happening perpetually during the lifetime of all living organisms in order to survive and reproduce. Remarkably, also parents are able to “prime” the physiology of their offspring, such that the offspring phenotypes will match the expected environmental challenges. This trans-generational plasticity serves as a short time response towards changing environmental conditions. Maternal effects have as yet received more attention, however, it is becoming increasingly clear, that also paternal effects are shaping offspring phenotypes. It is time to shed light on the epigenetic, behavioral and physiological factors mediating these trans generational effects. We need to gain insight into the costs and duration of trans generational plasticity to assess their importance and interaction with genetic adaptation. Furthermore, comparative approaches spanning over different organismal groups will serve to better understanding common patterns and mechanisms.

Invited speakers: Marjo Saastamoinen, Seth Barribeau

S2. Evolution in real time: experimental evolution approaches

Organisers: Biljana Stojković, Uroš Savković, Mirko Đorđević

Studying the evolutionary processes in „real time” has revealed some of the most convincing evidence of adaptive evolution. Experimental evolution methodology enables us to detect and examine each change in a population that happens in each successive generation. What can we expect in the future from such liable research avenue? Are we able to use such approach in order to bridge the gap between phenotypic and genetic evolution? Novel technological advances in “omics” era provide the opportunity to study evolution and adaptation at different levels of biological hierarchy: from phenotype, via regulation of gene expression (e.g. transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics), to genes and genomes. There are some unexplored links between phenotypic evolution related to ecological concepts (adaptive evolution in novel environments, evolution of life history traits, evolution of aging and behavior, etc.) with underlying molecular and physiological mechanisms. Also, some ongoing controversies, such as the relationship between epigenetic and genetic evolution, or co-evolution between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, can be remedied by the synthesis of experimental evolution approach and novel molecular methods. This symposium aims to bring together researches that apply experimental evolution on diverse taxa and a broad range of evolutionary topics.

Invited speakers: Göran Arnqvist, Tadeusz Kawecki

S3. Exploring the role of nongenetic inheritance in evolution

Organisers: Pim Edelaar, Russell Bonduriansky, Troy Day

Most biologists now agree that nongenetic inheritance occurs, and much current research focuses on identifying novel examples and exploring the proximate mechanisms enabling it. However, it is not yet clear whether it is an important factor in evolution, and this question has been the subject of considerable controversy. Moreover, while recent theoretical work shows how nongenetic inheritance could play a role in evolution, compelling empirical examples are still lacking, at least outside the context of human gene-culture coevolution. These considerations make nongenetic inheritance a relevant and timely symposium topic.

With this symposium we aim to provide a podium for theoretical and empirical developments in this area, and attempt to make concrete progress by showcasing and discussing:

  • the diversity of mechanisms mediating nongenetic inheritance,
  • explicit data/experiments that bear on the question of how nongenetic inheritance can influence the dynamics and outcomes of adaptive evolution,
  • the interaction between genetically and nongenetically inherited traits,
  • the issue of time-scale (stability) of nongenetically inherited traits.

We hope that presenters also discuss the research they think still needs to be done to understand the role of nongenetic inheritance in evolution.

Invited speakers: Sonia Sultan, Itamar Lev

S4. Cognitive evolution and environment

Organisers: Antonin Crumiere, Manuel Nagel

Cognition involves processes by which organisms perceive stimuli from their environment and adapt their behavior related to food acquisition, predation, mating and sociality to increase their fitness. The ability in facing these ecological pressures ultimately influences the evolution of species. However in some cases, adaptive behaviors can strongly affect the environment when species exploit new habitats, becoming agricultural pests or invasive threats to native ecosystem, particularly in the context of globalization and environmental change. This symposium aims at drawing a comprehensive picture of mechanisms underlying cognitive evolution by discussing last cutting-edge research advances about how environment influences the evolution of cognition and behavior, how cognition affects evolution, and also how to predict and manage unwanted environmental outcomes. Through this symposium, we will promote multi-level diversity to advance the knowledge about cognitive evolution. By integrating different perspectives from the fields of quantitative genetics, genomics, neurophysiology, microbiology and behavioral ecology, across multiple model systems, this symposium will gather a diverse mixture of scientists from different horizons and at different career stages. We are convinced that this diversity will inspire scientists to integrate new perspectives into their own research and will generate successful collaborations for a long-term effect on this field of research.

Invited speakers: Gabrielle Davidson, Reuven Dukas

S5. Aging & cancer through the lens of evolution

Organisers: E. Yagmur Erten, Matthias Galipaud, Robert Noble

Many organisms have an increased mortality as they get older, much of which can be attributed to a deterioration of body condition due to changes in tissue homeostasis, or an increased risk of cancer. Adaptations such as optimized telomere length, cellular replicative senescence, and cell death reduce cancer risk by limiting the number of divisions per cell, but could in turn lead to an increased mortality due to the loss of homeostasis, for example via depletion of stem cell pools. This hints at a potential trade-off between aging and cancer. However, aging phenotypes emerging from tumour-suppressor adaptations can also directly or indirectly facilitate cancer. For instance, changes in tissues due to the accumulation of malfunctioning cells can create a favourable environment for tumour cells to thrive. This suggests that the relationship between aging and cancer is more complex than a simple trade-off. With this symposium, our aim is to bring together experts in the burgeoning field of cancer evolution (e.g. comparative oncology, somatic evolution) and researchers of aging (e.g. disposable soma theory, the evolution of telomere length) in pursuit of a more unified theory.

Invited speakers: Vera Gorbunova, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

S6. Eco-evolutionary approach to the antimicrobial resistance problem

Organisers: Teppo Hiltunen, Lutz Becks

Infectious diseases used to be a major cause of mortality until effective antimicrobials were discovered and used to treat infected patients. However, the legacy of the (mis)use of antimicrobials has left us with a health crisis as resistant pathogens are on the rise, making it harder to treat infections, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. This global scale crisis is essentially an evolutionary problem and can be better understood and potentially solved by applying an eco-evolutionary framework.

Studies on factors influencing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) evolution have primarily focused on single strains in simple environments. However, microbes do not live alone but are embedded in complex multispecies, multi-trophic communities. This can affect fundamental features of microbial evolution, with both direct and indirect effects on AMR trajectories. We argue that we need to take ecological complexity into account in order to understand AMR evolution. Investigating the role of ecological interactions and eco-evolutionary feedbacks in AMR evolution is currently at the forefront of research. Ecologists and evolutionary biologists must be engaged to be part of the multidisciplinary solution. For these reasons, this topic would produce a timely and important ESEB symposium, attended by both microbiologists and evolutionary biologists producing fruitful dialogue.

Invited speakers: Danna Gifford, Dan Andersson

S7. Human-induced evolution

Organisers: Miguel Baltazar-Soares, Kristien Brans, Christophe Eizaguirre

As evidence accumulates that humans act as increasingly strong selective pressure, elucidating to what extent human-induced evolution impacts the dynamics of natural ecosystems becomes urgent. Classical examples of human-induced effects relate to the introduction of non-native species, the reduction in age and size-at-maturity of exploited marine fishes, effects of urbanization individual behaviour and responses to increasing levels of pollution. Here we argue that to better understand the impact of human-mediated selection on individuals, populations and communities, while promoting sustainable management, it is necessary to apply evolutionary theories. Resolving novel issues will, for instances, make possible to identify responses that are beneficial to human society, such as that of water fleas that have evolved increased grazing activity of pollution-induced algal blooms.

In this symposium, we propose to discuss the possible evolutionary responses to man-made pressures across topics directly related to human activities: biological invasions, fisheries, urbanization, pollution, agriculture and trophy hunting. We anticipate contributions focusing on experimental evolution, time series field survey, population genetics/omics, behavioural changes and eco-evolutionary dynamics. We will further defend that to better understand the impacts and dynamics of human-induced evolution, a multi-disciplinary approach from ecology, experimental biology, genomics and modelling is instrumental.

Invited speakers: Fanie Pelletier, Mikko Heino

S8. Genetics of small populations

Organisers: Alina Niskanen, Lumi Viljakainen, Henrik Jensen

Climate change and human actions cause fragmentation of suitable habitat and reduce population sizes of ever more animal and plant species. Small populations are prone to loss of genetic diversity due to drift, and populations will consequently be less able to adapt through standing genetic variation. In addition, inbreeding is inevitable in small populations, and the decreased fitness caused by inbreeding may further reduce population viability. The negative effects of small population size may however be counteracted by gene flow in spatially structured populations. It is now feasible to obtain genome-level data on genetic variation in natural populations of any species, and statistical methods for analyzing such data are developing fast. This calls for a review of the state-of-the-art regarding genetic processes in small populations. This symposium aims to understand the extent of current genetic problems in natural populations, considering the relative importance of genetic and demographic processes for population viability. To reach this goal, we will bring together researchers in different fields to discuss the latest experimental, observational, and theoretical work on causes and consequences of changes in genetic variation in small populations.

Invited speakers: Nancy Chen, Richard Frankham, Jane Reid (Externally sponsored)

S9. Microbial genome and community evolution in food environments

Organisers: Jeanne Ropars, Ricardo Rodriguez de la Vega

Determining how species evolve and adapt to their environment is of paramount importance for our understanding of the nature of evolution and is also of applied relevance for predicting evolutionary responses in the face of global changes. Domestication of micro-organisms for food production provides a good framework for understanding evolution and adaptation processes, as food is a controlled and rather simple environment in which recent adaptation events have occurred, with strong selection on known traits and rapid diversification. Importantly, microbes rarely live alone but within complex, multi-species communities, and human-made food environments provide model systems to understand how these communities work. The strong and recent selection by humans often leave footprints of evolution and adaptation in genomes that are easier to detect than those left by natural selection. Few studies however focused on the microorganisms thriving in the food environment, despite their importance to bioindustry and to a general understanding of evolution in eukaryotes. This symposium aims at fostering broad discussions, by presenting current advances in our understanding of adaptation and evolution of eukaryotic microorganisms (Jose Paulo Sampaio, Portugal) and their communities (Rachel Dutton, USA) in the human-made food environments.

Invited speakers: John G. Gibbons, Dephine Sicard

S10. Rapid Evolutionary Adaptation: Potential and Constraints

Organisers: Carolin Wendling, Jürgen Gadau

The vast diversity of life on earth is the result of evolutionary processes that have been acting for billions of years. Consequently, it is often assumed that evolution requires long periods of time. Evolutionary adaptation to new environments as driven by natural selection can, however, occur very rapidly within tens of generations. This raises two questions:

(1) What are the mechanisms of rapid adaptation? Is rapid adaptation predominately dependent on the selective fixation of new mutations or changes in allele frequencies of standing genetic variation?

(2) Which additional factors enhance or constrain rapid adaptation? Is the speed of adaptation influenced by phenotypic plasticity, demographic changes, genetic and genomic architecture, or environmental heterogeneity?

This symposium addresses these questions by combining new developments in evolutionary theory with empirical investigations of rapidly adapting and experimentally tractable systems of animals, plants, and microorganisms. We will bring together researchers with a strong background in population genetics, ecological theory or evolutionary biology investigating the relationship of phenotypic and genetic adaptation. By combining theoretical analyses with empirical studies, we take advantage of the current genome sequencing technology and will foster discussions beyond the descriptive analysis of genomic variation towards a detailed understanding of the underlying evolutionary processes.

Invited speakers: Lutz Becks, Alison Feder

S11. Quantitative trait effect size distributions and their impact on evolutionary processes

Organisers: Arild Husby, Anna Santure

The recent democratisation of genome wide datasets has allowed for the genetic dissection of many quantitative traits across a broad range of taxa. As a consequence, we are now in the exciting position that we know a great deal about the relative role of large versus small effect variants in shaping phenotypic differences within and between populations, and are increasingly able to dissect genetic correlations between traits. Quantitative traits have historically been modelled assuming a large number of genes of small effect. However, examples of moderate to large effect loci segregating in populations suggest that there is likely to be a diversity of species- and trait- specific effect size distributions, with in some cases a handful of larger effect loci contrasting to many small effect loci in explaining the majority of trait differences between individuals. This symposium invites research that aims to synthesise how the genetic architecture of traits, and the genetic constraints between traits, impact evolutionary processes including, for example, the rate of adaptation, maintenance of genetic variation and the predictability of evolution. The goal of this symposium is therefore to review experimental, empirical and methodological studies that focus on how genetic architecture might impede or facilitate evolutionary processes.

Invited speakers: Mirte Bosse, John Kelly

S12. Quantifying selection and evolvability in wild plant populations: methods and measurements

Organisers: Øystein H. Opedal, Rocío Pérez-Barrales

A predictive understanding of adaptive evolution requires accurate estimates of the two core components of evolution: natural selection and evolvability (the ability to respond to selection), and knowledge of how these depend on ecological context. Much of our knowledge of the ability of plant populations to evolve is derived from greenhouse studies, yet it is clear that both selection and the expression of genetic variation depend on environmental conditions, and further progress will require additional studies conducted in wild populations. Novel methods for studying evolutionary processes in the wild are rapidly emerging, including innovative experiments for disentangling components of natural selection (e.g. pollinator-mediated vs. antagonist-mediated selection), and experimental and genetic tools for measuring genetic variances. However, application of these methods is often restricted to specific systems, and greater integration across systems is needed to derive the kinds of general patterns that may allow prediction of evolutionary dynamics. In this symposium we will bring together researchers interested in evolution in wild plant populations. We aim to move the field forward by highlighting state-of-the-art approaches to estimating evolutionary parameters in wild populations, and thus expect this symposium to provide inspiration for wider application of the most powerful experimental and analytical methods.

Invited speakers: Benoit Pujol, Maria Clara Castellanos

S13. Genetics and genomics of adaptation

Organisers: Carmelo Fruciano, Paolo Franchini, Julia C. Jones

Our understanding of how genetic variation maps into phenotypic variation in the context of biological adaptation has tremendously improved since the introduction and the diffusion of high-throughput sequencing and genotyping methods. However, a much slower process, currently underway, involves incorporating further complexity and integration into thinking about – and analyzing – genetic data. It is now clear that to gain a complete understanding of adaptation simply producing genome-wide data is not enough. Genome-wide data needs to be analysed and understood in an integrative fashion, bringing together the expertise and perspectives of researchers in molecular biology, population genomics, quantitative genetics, phenomics, developmental biology, statistics, machine learning and bioinformatics. This integrative approach emphasizes and leverages co-variation within genetic data and across data types, rather than disregarding it by reducing genetic data to its univariate components (e.g., single-locus Fst). Leveraging the multidimensional nature of genetic data also enables an improved understanding of its emergent properties (i.e., those phenomena which cannot simply explained as “sum of individual parts” but emerge from the non-independence of parts, such as “congealing” during divergence). This symposium seeks to promote a forward-looking multidimensional, multigenic and integrated view of adaptation by nurturing these integrative approaches and perspectives.

Invited speakers: Kathryn Elmer, Henrique Teotonio

S14. The mechanisms of evolutionary change: moving from genomic signatures to functional validation

Organisers: Darren J. Parker, Nicola Cook

The diversity of the natural world is ultimately encoded by differences in genetic sequence. Elucidating the genetic basis of traits has long been a central aim for molecular biologists interested in understanding how phenotypes are built, and for evolutionary biologists interested in how evolution shapes phenotypes. Decades of work have provided numerous insights but due to the breadth of both fields they have progressed largely in isolation. However, in recent years, new technologies have facilitated a step-change in linking these fields together. For example, widespread availability of genome sequencing technologies has provided a means to identify candidate genes with relative ease and readily accessible genetic manipulation techniques, such as CRISPR-cas9, provide a route to functional validation. However, we are yet to fully bridge the genotype-phenotype gap; utilizing new technologies more effectively in the field of evolutionary biology could substantially narrow the divide.

The aim of this symposium is to bring together evolutionary biologists and molecular geneticists across a diverse range of fields from neuroscience to developmental biology to discuss the best ways to harness new techniques as we move from catalogs of genomic signatures and mutants towards a more concept-rich framework for understanding how phenotypes are produced and evolve.

Invited speakers: Megan C. Neville, Alistair P. McGregor

S15. Tracing evolution through time using ancient DNA

Organisers: Päivi Onkamo, Verena Schünemann, Elina Salmela

In recent years, ancient-DNA research has taken giant leaps facilitated by improvements in sequencing technologies. This has revolutionized our understanding of the evolution of our own species and many others. We can now directly see evolution in action, by analyzing genomes of individuals who lived in distant past. Obviously, the methodology is applicable to all kinds of organisms – plants, animals and bacteria – and to a vast range of source materials, from thousands of years old sediment or skeletal samples to museum specimens from last century. It is also possible to trace back the evolutionary history of various organisms presumed to be out of reach by prior methods, such as many bacterial pathogens. Concerning many animal and plant species, the field is only taking its’ first steps, though some well-known examples of these already exist, such as the woolly mammoth, the horse and the dog.

With all this in mind, we propose a symposium that showcases recent cutting-edge research on ancient genomics and provides a platform to discuss the associated challenges. We also warmly welcome new, highly interdisciplinary openings.

Invited speakers: Johannes Krause, Daniel Wegmann 

S16. Mito-nuclear interactions across levels of biological organisation

Organisers: Florencia Camus, Hernan Morales

Interactions between the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes support cellular metabolism and function across all Eukaryotes. Once thought to be ‘evolutionary bystanders’, mitochondrial genomes are now believed to have played a key role in the origin of major features of eukaryotic life, including sexes and the germline. Furthermore, interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes have been found to modulate mitochondrial function and organismal metabolic performance; both factors which have downstream consequences on life-history traits. Studies from natural populations also indicate a potentially important role for these interactions in compromised hybrid fitness and the process of speciation. Finally, mito-nuclear interactions shape molecular evolution of nuclear genes that interact with products of the mitochondrial genome. Thus, mito-nuclear interactions impact most (if not all) levels of biological organisation.

The goal of this symposium is to bring together evolutionary biologists studying mito-nuclear dynamics from different fields of expertise to ascertain the future directions in the field of mito-nuclear coevolution. This symposium encourages submissions that use integrative and multidisciplinary efforts, across a range of taxa and levels of biological organisation to examine how mito-nuclear interactions shape evolutionary trajectories.

Invited speakers: Kristi Montooth, Ron Burton

S17. Selfish genetic elements

Organisers: Robert Kofler, Kirsten A. Senti

Selfish genetic elements (SGEs) enhance the rate of their own transmission relative to the host genome. As SGE replication threatens host fitness and genome integrity, hosts evolved elaborate cellular mechanism to combat SGE replication and transmission. The genetic conflict between SGE and hosts thus results in fast evolutionary dynamics for both, SGE and host defense mechanisms. This arms race has been recognized as an important driver of evolutionary change and innovation. For example V(D)J recombination and novel regulatory networks are outcomes of this conflict.

Recent advances in Next Generation Sequencing allow monitoring SGE-host conflicts at unprecedented detail. Such approaches are beginning to shed light on the rapid evolutionary dynamics as well as the underlying molecular battles. This symposium will provide a stage for the molecular and evolutionary analysis of SGEs such as transposable elements, meiotic drive and heritable intracellular microbes in diverse host species. In particular, we will focus on novel insights into i) the biology of SGEs, ii) the host defense against SGEs, iii) the dynamics of SGE driven conflicts and iv) the evolutionary innovations emerging from them.

Invited speakers: Catherine Montchamp-Moreau, Arturo Marí-Ordóñez

S18. The genetic architecture of polygenic adaptation: sweeps, small shifts and everything in between

Organisers: Christian Schlötterer, Neda Barghi

For decades the identification of selected loci built on population genetic theory predicting “selective sweep” signatures for selection targets and flanking sequences. Many empirical studies found genomic patterns that are compatible with predictions for hard, soft or incomplete sweeps. Nevertheless, most traits are polygenic as demonstrated by many QTL and GWAS studies. Empirical evidence for genomic signatures of polygenic adaptation has been considered difficult since only small shifts in the allele frequency of (very) many contributing loci are expected. Recent theoretical and empirical work demonstrated, however, that the selection signature of polygenic adaptation could result in substantial allele frequency changes-similar to selective sweeps. Hence, the dynamics of alleles contributing to polygenic adaptation can be traced experimentally, leading to novel insights about adaptive processes. This symposium brings together empirical and theoretical researchers with the intention to explore the genomic signatures of polygenic adaptation. Combining theory with empirical data from natural populations and experimental populations this symposium will provide an important contribution to develop new approaches for the detection of polygenic adaptation.

Invited speakers: Catherine Peichel, Joachim Hermisson

S19. Gene-phenotype associations across evolutionary scales

Organisers: Jo Baker, Stephen Montgomery, Francesco Cicconardi

Recent years have seen the field of evolutionary biology flooded with genome-wide sequence data and comprehensive phenotypic datasets for species spanning the entire tree of life. Such an abundance of data provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying the molecular basis of phenotypic change across evolutionary scales. However, work on gene-phenotype associations has been dominated by population and quantitative genetic approaches. While critical for identifying regions of the genome under selection, or those associated with phenotypic variation in adaptive traits, these approaches are limited to comparisons between only a few (often closely related) species. This limits what they can tell us about the relationship between molecular and phenotypic evolution across longer time periods. More recently, phylogenetic comparative methods have been used to test gene-phenotype associations at macroevolutionary scales. Despite the potential power of these methods, they are in their infancy and have been hitherto under-used. This symposium will bring together molecular researchers at the forefront of identifying candidate gene-phenotype associations with those who are developing statistical approaches for bringing such associations into a phylogenetic comparative context. In doing so the symposium will provide the opportunity for an invigorated new focus on the study of gene-phenotype associations across multiple evolutionary time scales.

Invited speakers: Nicola Nadeau, Itay Mayrose

S20. The evolutionary consequences of social transmission and animal culture

Organisers: Rose Thorogood, Neeltje Boogert

The study of animal culture in the wild – where behavioural traits spread via vertical and horizontal social transmission – is booming. Examples of persistent behaviours now exist across taxa, from whales to birds to bees; and more broadly we now know that information spreads and shapes behaviour through social transmission even in model organisms such as Drosophila. This suggests that social transmission could be a widespread and potent force in altering how populations respond to changing conditions, including their interactions with other species. Theoretical and verbal discussions suggest that this might even require extending the modern evolutionary synthesis; nevertheless, our understanding of how vertical and horizontal transmission of non-genetic information mediates selection and shapes evolutionary trajectories remains limited. Resolving this contentious issue will require more empirical examples and models examining how animal culture, and social transmission more broadly, affect selection at both phenotypic and genetic levels. This symposium will (1) explore the ecological, genetic, and developmental factors that influence the evolution of animal culture, to (2) draw attention to the potential role of social transmission in shaping evolutionary processes, and (3) provide a forum for discussing whether this really necessitates extensions to the evolutionary synthesis.

Invited speakers: Sasha Dall, Lucy Aplin

S21. Colour across the evolutionary spectrum: from production to perception

Organisers: Hugo Gruson, Amélie Fargevieille, Nicola Nadeau

The rapid diversification of cichlid fishes in African lakes and floral colours in the angiosperms, the dazzling colours and elaborate courtships of some birds and insects, the complex mimicry of Neotropical aposematic butterflies and poison frogs are only some examples of the importance of colouration and its perception in the evolution of organisms. Studies of colour in natural systems have pioneered our understanding of many evolutionary processes, including natural selection, the maintenance of polymorphism, sexual selection, co-evolution, signalling and speciation. Colour and its perception underpin many evolutionary mechanisms, bringing together evolutionary biologists from different subfields, investigating a wide array of topics, from the genetic and structural basis of colouration to the modelling of colour perception. This variety of backgrounds and focal questions leads scientists working on colouration to participate to different thematic symposia. Yet, new research directions and fruitful collaborations are oftentimes born when scientists who are not used to working together get the chance to meet and discuss their research interests. In this symposium we aim to bring together researchers studying all aspects of the evolution of colour and vision systems.

Invited speakers: Martine Maan, Edwige Moyroud

S22. Evolution of host-plant use in arthropods

Organisers: Ernesto Villacis-Perez, Nicky Wybouw

The study of plant-arthropod interactions has generated unique insights into the mechanisms that shape organismal and trait evolution, and their ecological consequences. Recent research has advanced our understanding of how plants fine-tune defenses against specific attackers, and how, in turn, arthropod herbivores overcome them. This progress is partly owing to new molecular and genomic tools that allow for the identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying these (co-)adaptations. Progress has also been made in elucidating the physiological and ecological consequences of these antagonistic interactions. For instance, studies are now tracking the effect of the different feeding strategies of specialists and generalists on their associated communities. The goal of this symposium is to gather the most recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the evolution of plant-herbivore interactions, and how these reverberate into the communities. We aim to create a bridge among researchers who work on both sides of the plant-arthropod warfare, as we are convinced that such an interdisciplinary approach is creating a new momentum in this research field.

Invited speakers: Noah K. Whiteman, Silke Allmann

S23. Parasite community dynamics and their role in the evolution of host immunity

Organisers: Tobias Lenz, Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer

Host-parasite coevolution represents one of the most dynamic processes in evolution. Studying these dynamics elucidates several core principles in evolutionary biology, and is also eminent for understanding the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Significant progress has been made in understanding how specific parasites interact with specific hosts and how this drives adaptive evolution on both sides. However, most host individuals are co-infected by multiple parasite species (and strains) at once, likely leading to both complex interactions among parasites and simultaneous (potentially antagonistic) interactions between the parasites and their host. These complex dynamics are expected to affect the evolution of both parasites and hosts in various ways, and a better understanding of these dynamics is of large interest in evolutionary genetics and evolutionary medicine. In this symposium, we will thus discuss the molecular basis of host-parasite interactions with a special focus on within-host parasite diversity. In order to facilitate further progress in this field, we will also highlight technological advances that make the study of complex parasite communities in both model and non-model organisms more accessible, such as DNA capture approaches, environmental DNA techniques and sequence analysis pipelines. We expect a lively discussion that will spur significant progress in this interesting field.

Invited speakers: Kayla King, Elin Videvall

S24. Microbial evolution under biotic stress

Organisers: Marie Vasse, Antoine Frenoy

Microbes have become key model organisms for the study of experimental evolution. The effect of abiotic stress such as antimicrobial treatments or starvation has attracted considerable attention, unfolding insightful results on adaptation under adverse conditions. The environmental complexity is however often largely reduced in the lab, where one would typically study the genetic basis of adaptation to a particular environmental challenge and the resulting single-species evolutionary dynamics, neglecting the effect of the biotic environment. Recently, the evolutionary consequences of the rich, complex and stressful environments in which microbes naturally live have received increasing interest, and in particular the effects of biotic stresses such as competition, predation and parasitism. Indeed, the evolution of many traits including CRISPRs, antibiotic and toxin production or biofilm formation can only be fully understood in the light of the biotic environment. At a broader scale, theory predicts Red Queen dynamics to be the cornerstone of microbial adaptation, and a growing body of evidence suggests that antagonistic interactions could be key drivers of diversification and speciation.

In this symposium, we propose to bring together experimental and theoretical approaches to study the effect of stress on microbial evolution, with a particular emphasis on biotic antagonistic interactions.

Invited speakers: Olaya Rendueles, Ville-Petri Friman

S25. Assortative mating for quantitative traits: mechanisms, estimation, and evolutionary consequences

Organisers: Niels Dingemanse, Barbara Class

Individuals who look similar tend to associate with each other more often than expected by chance. This phenomenon, termed “assortative mating”, is widespread in nature and considered an important component of the evolutionary process, affecting micro-evolutionary trajectories, population persistence versus decline, and speciation. Interest in assortative mating is gaining momentum, with theoretical and empirical research focusing on adaptive mechanisms and evolutionary consequences. This symposium will bring together international experts who have been studying assortative mating from distinctly different perspectives, ranging from behavioral ecology to quantitative genetics to speciation, thereby offering a unique opportunity to synthesize current knowledge on this widespread yet poorly understood phenomenon. Particular attention will be given to the challenges faced by empirical research, such as the estimation of assortative mating in the wild. We seek to provide a synthesis of modern research approaches and a research agenda for future study to further this exciting area of contemporary evolutionary biology.

Invited speakers: Wolfgang Forstmeier, Roger Butlin

S26. Sexual Conflict: linking behavior, genetics, and ecology

Organisers: Kenyon Mobley, Jessica Abbott, Stephen De Lisle

Males and females share an almost identical set of genes yet selection may act differently on the sexes, driving sexual conflict. This sexual antagonism can drive adaptive evolution in sexually-reproducing species and is theorized to have significant evolutionary consequences for genomic organization, sexual dimorphism, population fitness, and speciation. Empirical work using laboratory model organisms has strongly influenced current thinking on the causes and consequences of sexual antagonism. Yet recent studies have begun to take a more holistic approach to sexual conflict, combining novel theory, genetics and behavior to better understand how sexual conflict acts in an ecological context. The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers studying sexual conflict on many levels, with the purpose of seeking a general understanding for how biotic and abiotic environmental factors mediate conflicts between the sexes in nature. Specifically, we aim to highlight: i) linking genetics of sexual conflict with behavior and ii) developing a cohesive understanding of how ecological conditions can influence the outcome of sexual conflict.

Invited speakers: Howard Rundle, Jen Perry

S27. Design of social traits: genes, individuals, and social groups

Organisers: Gonçalo S. Faria, Thomas Hitchcock, Jasmeen Kanwal

Natural selection favours those individuals that pass on more copies of their genes to future generations. The consequence of this are organisms which appear ‘as if’ designed to lead the lives they do. A key design challenge for almost all organisms is the presence and actions of other individuals. Classic examples of such social adaptations include the mating systems and cooperation seen in vertebrates and arthropods. However, these principles apply to a much wider range of organisms, from bacteria to fungi and plants, who are subject many of the same social dilemmas. Furthermore, the quantity that individuals appear designed to maximise, inclusive fitness, is a fundamentally social one, depending on the genetic structure of populations and the relatedness of individuals to one another. These topics have previously been studied by researchers from a number of fields, ranging from disciplines within biology to economics and philosophy. The aim of this symposium is to bring together this diverse body of work, both theoretical and empirical, to generate a healthy discussion on how we can better understand the common principles that underlie the design of social traits, across different biological systems and levels of organisation: from genes and individuals to social groups.

Invited speakers: Alan Grafen, Susanne Shultz

S28. Evolutionary Game Theory: Modern development and interdisciplinary applications

Organisers: Xiang-Yi Li, Vlastimil Křivan, Christian Hilbe

Evolutionary game theory provides a powerful and integrative approach for understanding natural selection, sexual selection and adaptation. Since the seminal work of Maynard Smith and Price in the early 70s, evolutionary game theory has been continuously building up a coherent theoretical framework, and developing applications ranging from modelling the evolution of altruism and cooperation, social/ecological interactions and animal behaviour, to bacterial warfare, infectious diseases dynamics, and the evolution and ecology of cancer. The advancement of this field is very rapid in theory development (e.g. game interactions in complex networks or populations with demographic structure) and applications in a number of areas (e.g. cancer evolution and treatment, international cooperation and conflict under climate change), but the cross-talk and collaboration between theoreticians and empiricists can still be improved.

In the symposium, we will bring together researchers of diverse backgrounds and career stages, and in particular, encourage theoreticians and empiricists to work together towards building new models that can make experimentally testable predictions, building on previous theoretical achievements and finding new applications of evolutionary game theory in solving biological problems. We believe the symposium will appeal to the broad audience of ESEB and promote future development of the field.

Invited speakers: Kateřina Staňková, Redouan Bshary

S29. Moving beyond a quantification of eco-evolutionary dynamics

Organisers: Lynn Govaert, Marjolein Bruijning

The awareness that ecological and evolutionary processes can occur on similar timescales has stimulated the field of eco-evolutionary dynamics. An often asked question is what the relative contribution is of ecological and evolutionary processes in changing phenotype, population and community dynamics. Various methods have been developed that aim to quantify these contributions. However, depending on the study system and the field of development, these methods differ in assumptions and definitions. In order to make general statements, it is important that we know how different methods compare. Moreover, in order to get a mechanistic understanding of eco-evolutionary dynamics, we need to move beyond a mere quantification of the ecological and evolutionary contributions. We should start using these quantifications to find general patterns across study systems, and identify conditions under which eco-evolutionary dynamics may be important. This will be essential to make accurate eco-evolutionary predictions in particular empirical examples. In this symposium session, we want to bring together prominent researchers in this field, that have used different methods to not only quantify ecological and evolutionary contributions, but also use these eco-evolutionary quantifications to gain additional insights in the general mechanisms driving eco-evolutionary dynamics.

Invited speakers: Jelena H. Pantel, Tim Coulson

S30. Eco-evolutionary feedback between pollinator behaviour and floral evolution

Organisers: Mario Vallejo-Marin, Avery Russell

Flowering plants display an amazingly diverse range of strategies to manipulate the behaviour of pollinators and maximise reproductive success. Yet pollinators often use complex and flexible behaviours, which in turn affect ecological and evolutionary interactions with the plants they visit. Studies of plant-pollinator interactions have a long tradition in evolutionary biology, yet these interactions are usually studied from either plant or pollinator perspective and rarely integrate both. Literature with a plant perspective considers how floral traits (e.g., colour, scent, size, shape) affect pollinator visitation and the morphological fit between plant and pollinator, but typically ignores how pollinators evolve and modify their behaviour. Literature with a pollinator perspective focuses heavily on cognition (e.g., learning of floral cues, motor routines to access rewards, effects of reward quality), but rarely examines how cognition affects plant reproduction and evolution. Recent work has started to bridge the gap between behavioural and cognition studies and floral evolution and we are therefore at an exciting time to bring together researchers working at the intersection of what are often treated as parallel fields of study. Our symposium will attract the interest of researchers across career stages and study systems addressing eco-evolutionary feedbacks between floral evolution and pollinator behaviour.

Invited speakers: Aimee S. Dunlap, Allan Ellis 

S31. Life history evolution: bridging theory and data

Organisers: Piret Avila, Mauricio González-Forero

Living systems display a remarkable diversity and complexity of life histories. Life history theory aims to provide a unifying framework to explain patterns of variation in life histories.  Early optimization approaches provided a core understanding to explain life history patterns across species. Recent theoretical models have moved beyond these core ideas to understand the evolution of life-histories under more realistic scenarios including social interactions, population dynamics, and sex differences. Experimental and comparative work has pushed forward our understanding of how life history traits are shaped at the proximate and the ultimate level. Furthermore, recent work from molecular and population genetics has provided novel perspectives on the mechanisms behind life history trade-offs modulating the evolution of life histories. Despite these complementary advances, the contrasting and increasingly sophisticated techniques used in theoretical and empirical research on life history evolution makes it ever more challenging for theoreticians and empiricists to exchange their ideas. This symposium seeks to offer such an avenue by having both life history theoreticians and empiricists present their latest results, exchange ideas, and acquire new perspectives. Such interaction between theoreticians and empiricists may accelerate progress on promising avenues, such as the interaction between sexual selection and life history evolution.

Invited speakers: Alexei Maklakov, Irja Ida Ratikainen

S32. Niche width evolution and its (mal)adaptive significance

Organisers: Maud Charlery de la Masselière, Virginie Ravigné, Vincent Calcagno

Niche width is a fundamental property affecting population persistence, species interactions and ecosystem functioning. It is one of the key topics in evolutionary biology, starting with the seminal work of Roughgarden some 40 years ago.

Recently, an increasing number of studies documented maladaptative niche width evolution and its consequences for population persistence. Such counterintuitive instances of niche evolution were attributed to eco-evolutionary constraints and question our ability to decipher the ultimate causes of niches width evolution.

Our understanding of maladaptive evolution  benefits from novel theoretical approaches and the advent of genomics, that recently linked ecological specialization to genetic structure. The impact of individual variation in niche width is also increasingly put forth in empirical and experimental evolution studies. Surprisingly, no symposium on niche width evolution was organized at an ESEB conference during the last decade.

We aim to fill this gap by organizing a symposium featuring two leaders of the field, one being a theory-oriented researcher, Claus Rueffler (Uppsala) who uses modelling to study the evolutionary dynamics of generalists and specialists, the other an empirically-oriented researcher, Michael C. Singer (UPlymouth) who has conducted groundbreaking research on niche width evolution in butterflies.

Invited speakers: Claus Rueffler, Michael C. Singer

S33. Evolutionary Ecology of Ageing: from mechanisms to life-history consequences

Organisers: Sophie Reichert, Hannah Froy, Antoine Stier

Ageing is a key challenge of this century. Understanding ageing demands both insight into its evolutionary basis and the identification of its molecular and physiological determinants. Indeed, to distinguish between the evolutionary causes of ageing, and to understand the circumstances under which they apply, we need to investigate the mechanistic bases responsible for senescence processes. Although a wide variation in ageing rates between and within species is observed, the causes of such a variation still remain poorly understood. There is thus an urgent need to increase our comprehension of the underlying molecular mechanisms of the ageing process and their evolutionary implications. Several mechanisms have been proposed as candidates such as the accumulation of somatic mutations, telomere shortening, genomic instability epigenetic alterations or mitochondrial dysfunction, and have been termed key hallmarks of ageing. The purpose of this symposium would be to give an overview of the existing research examining the mechanisms of ageing and their evolutionary basis. Questions of interest would include the identification of hallmarks of ageing in model and non-model/wild organisms, how variation in these traits affects fitness-related variables, how do they account for differences in ageing rates within and between species, and what are the life-history consequences.

Invited speakers: Sandra Bouwhuis, Anne M Bronikowski

S34. Mathematical models in evolutionary biology

Organisers: Guy Cooper, Matishalin Patel, Tom Scott, Asher Leeks

The use of mathematical models is prevalent in the field of evolutionary biology and these models are constructed and analysed in many different ways. For example, models may differ in the amount of genetic, spatial, individual or dynamic detail that is made explicit. Otherwise, there may also be fundamental differences in the causal assumptions that underlie different models such as between kin and multi-level selection approaches. This raises the question: how are theoreticians and empirical workers to make sense of the diversity of modelling methodologies? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of models? Do different approaches even attempt to address the same kinds of evolutionary questions? Different models may have distinct scopes and aims, and when these are not clear to empiricists, it can lead to unnecessary debate and confusion in the field. In this symposium, we will bring together practitioners using different methodologies, to showcase how each approach may be used to address specific biological questions, and to consider how these all fit into a wider philosophy of modelling in evolutionary biology.

Invited speakers: Hanna Kokko, Florence Débarre

S35. Evolution outreach projects: Keep SCREAMing (Science Communication Research Empowers AMazing outreach)

Organisers: Dragana Cvetković, Szymon M. Drobniak

Scientifically literate public is the key to address societal problems and also is expected to be aware of the importance of science and supportive of scientific research funding. However, there are evident gaps in science understanding, particularly when it comes to evolution. Researchers teaching evolution face a difficult undertaking, as students often harbor misconceptions and sometimes even strong rejection feelings. Understanding evolution is fundamental for making informed decisions about biologically relevant issues that impact individual and societal well-being. This highlights the importance of researchers’ engagement in evolution outreach projects and effective teaching practices. Learning is rooted in engagement, and science communication and education research has already provided us with abundance of approaches based on public and students’ engagement. How can we grab public’s attention to foster evolution understanding? What factors affect the success of outreach and education projects? Participants of this symposium will have the opportunity to learn about key factors to successful communication with public and inspiring examples of effective evolution outreach and education projects. We aim to inspire and empower evolution researchers to create their own outreach projects and teaching programs that contribute to scientific literacy in evolution and public support for this research area.

Invited speakers: Pedro Russo, Héloïse Dufour

S36. Open Symposium

Preliminary organiser: Craig Primmer

The open symposium is the place for any participant who wants to present a study on a topic that ‘does not have a home’ amongst the 35 themed symposia. Traditionally, the open symposium has received a large number of abstracts and thus should not be considered an easier option for being selected for an oral presentation. Submitters are encouraged to prioritise the 35 themed symposia as abstracts submitted to symposium 36 that clearly fit into one of the themed symposia will not be considered for an oral presentation in this symposium, but will instead be automatically considered only for a poster presentation.

In order to improve attendance at the open symposium sessions, abstracts submitted to symposium 36 will be separated into 3-6 general evolutionary biology sub-themes. These sub-themes will be determined once abstract submissions have closed, based on the topics of the submitted abstracts. They will then be evaluated by researchers with expertise in the (very) general sub-themes and presentations will be grouped into these sub-themes at the conference, and advertised as such. To assist organisers in the initial classification of abstracts into sub-themes, submitters to this symposium are required to select up to three sub-themes from a list, and also to briefly justify why they feel their abstract is not suitable for any of the 35 themed symposia.