Bacterial Genome Evolution

October 3-7
University Residential Center
Bertinoro (Forlì-Cesena), Italy

Specific areas of interest:

1. Natural selection

Theory: How do we expect selection to operate, given what we know about basic evolutionary processes among bacteria?
Method development: How do we identify loci under selection and characterize selection pressures across the genome?
Studies of natural and experimental populations: What have we learned from studies of bacterial genomics about the selection pressures encountered by bacteria?

2. Evolutionary rates

Theory: What shapes rates of bacterial evolution?
Method development: How do we deal with sticky problems like rate variation, recombination, timescales over which rates are measured, genetic variants other than SNPs?
Studies of natural and experimental populations: How much do rates vary? Why?

3. Recombination

Theory: Why do rates of recombination vary among bacteria? How do differences between recombination among bacteria and among sexually reproducing organisms alter our expectations about basic evolutionary dynamics?
Method development: How do we reliably estimate rates of recombination, identify recombination hotspots, assign directionality?
Studies of natural and experimental populations: What has the genomic era taught us about recombination in bacteria?

4. Horizontal gene transfer and evolution of the pan genome

Theory: What is the appropriate unit of selection for bacteria and how do we study it? How do we think about and study interactions within the pan genome?
Method development: How do we capture and describe the pan genome? How do we characterize and quantify the movement of mobile elements?
Studies of natural and experimental populations: How big is the genomic space occupied by bacteria? What do accessory genomes do? How does ecology shape the pan genome?

5. Neutral evolution of bacteria

Theory: How do we adapt our thinking about neutral patterns of evolution, given what we know of recombination, mutational processes, etc in bacteria?
Method development: How do we reconstruct the demographic history of a bacterial population? How much should we worry about HGT, selection, sampling?
Studies of natural and experimental populations: What has inference of demography from genomic data taught us about bacterial ecology?


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