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NIMBioS Investigative Workshop

Pan-microbial Trait Ecology

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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

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Pan-microbial Trait Ecology WordPress site

Live-stream icon. Live Stream. The Workshop was streamed live. .

Playlist of online videos

Cladogram 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 You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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