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Workshop group photo.

NIMBioS Investigative Workshop

Pan-microbial Trait Ecology

Topic: Ecology meets systems biology: Developing a pan-microbial trait-based framework for community ecology and ecosystem functioning

Meeting dates: June 14-16, 2017

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Elena Litchman, Michigan State Univ.
Christine Hawkes, Univ. of Texas, Austin
Chris Klausmeier, Michigan State Univ.

Objectives: This workshop aimed to lay the groundwork for a mechanistic trait-based framework for different microbial taxa by combining several fundamental fields, from genomics and metabolic modeling to community ecology and ecosystem modeling. Organizers identified key traits that can be used in community and ecosystem models and outlined ways to derive such traits from known microbial genomes and metabolic networks. The workshop explored several biological and computational challenges within this topic, such as linking cellular metabolism to phenotypic traits, developing multidimensional models, reducing model complexity, modeling trait evolution at different levels and expanding metabolic models to the level of microbial communities. The workshop brought together a highly interdisciplinary and diverse group of researchers at different stages of their careers, which enabled multiple intellectual synergies. The workshop output should stimulate the broad participation of applied mathematicians, computational microbial biologists, community ecologists and ecosystem scientists in developing trait-based frameworks further.

Descriptive flyer WordPress icon.

Pan-microbial Trait Ecology WordPress site.   NIMBioS has created a WordPress site to facilitate group communication and information sharing for the workshop. This is an interactive tool for sharing resources and comments before, during and after the meeting. All participants will receive an official email from WordPress inviting you to join the site. You will be asked to click on the link in the email from WordPress to accept the invitation. Before the meeting, we encourage you to introduce yourself to the rest of the group by writing a post with some details about your background and what you hope to gain from the meeting. Full details on how to post, comment and upload files to the WordPress site are available at the site (

Live-stream icon. Live Stream. The Workshop will be streamed live. Note that NIMBioS Investigative Workshops involve open discussion and not necessarily a succession of talks. In addition, the schedule as posted may change during the Workshop. To view the live stream, visit Join the live chat of the event via Twitter (#microbesWS), displayed to the right of the live stream. We encourage you to post questions/comments and engage in discussion with respect to our Social Media Guidelines.

Placeholder photo. Summary Report. TBA

NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Workshops have up to 35 participants. Organizers and key invited researchers make up half the participants; the remaining participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. Open applicants selected to attend are notified by NIMBioS within two weeks of the application deadline. Investigative Workshops have the potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.

A goal of NIMBioS is to enhance the cadre of researchers capable of interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology. As part of this goal, NIMBioS is committed to promoting diversity in all its activities. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution. Questions regarding diversity issues should be directed to Dr. Ernest Brothers, the NIMBioS Associate Director for Diversity Enhancement ( You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.