Gordon Research Conferences
Meeting Details

Microbial Population Biology
Gordon Research Conference

The Emergence and Maintenance of Microbial Diversity


July 9-14, 2017


Proctor Academy
Andover, NH Site Information


Eva M. Top & Larry Forney

Vice Chair:
Benjamin B. Kerr

Application Deadline

Applications for this meeting must be submitted by June 11, 2017. Please apply early, as some meetings become oversubscribed (full) before this deadline. If the meeting is oversubscribed, it will be stated here. Note: Applications for oversubscribed meetings will only be considered by the Conference Chair if more seats become available due to cancellations.

Meeting Description

The richness of diversity found in our microbial world is astounding. Understanding the evolutionary forces that led to the emergence and maintenance of this diversity will be the central focus of the 2017 Microbial Population Biology Gordon Research Conference. The conference will bring together thought leaders from a spectrum of disciplines to present and discuss empirical data and theoretical concepts pertinent to the adaptive evolution of not only microbes, but all other forms of life. The findings of basic research done to develop and test evolutionary theory, or to assess and model evolutionary and functional networks will be interwoven with studies done to meet the modern day challenges of emerging infectious diseases, the arms race of antibiotic resistance, sustainable use of natural resources, and global warming.

Significant advances in technology have accelerated and deepened our ability to explore the evolutionary history of life on Earth. The earliest ones were spawned by the seminal work of Carl Woese and colleagues who used phylogenetic analyses of rRNA genes to discover new life forms and to unveil the extraordinary species diversity found on our planet. More recently we have crossed the threshold of a new frontier in which whole genome sequencing has increased our insights to diversity within microbial populations, genome evolution, the genetic basis of interspecies interactions, host-microbe coevolution, horizontal gene transfer, and so much more. These insights are needed to anticipate and effectively treat or prevent infectious diseases that exact a high cost on the health of humans, other animals and plants.

Had Darwin seen the teeming microbial life that resided in his tangled bank he would have been even more in awe of the species richness and complexity of ecosystems, and he too might have speculated that we are just guests in the microbial world that will be described and discussed at the conference.

Related Meeting

This GRC will be held in conjunction with the "Microbial Population Biology" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Those interested in attending both meetings must submit an application for the GRS in addition to an application for the GRC. Refer to the associated GRS program page for more information.


Preliminary Program

The topics and speakers for the conference sessions are displayed below (italics denote discussion leaders). The Conference Chair is currently developing their detailed program, which will include the complete meeting schedule, as well as the talk titles for all speakers. The detailed program will be available by March 9, 2017. Please check back for updates.

  • Evolution and Emergence of Infectious Diseases
    (Caitlin Pepperell / Lucy Weinert / Sam Sheppard / Kathryn Holt)
  • Host-Microbe Coevolution
    (Katy Heath / Stephanie Porter / Alex Best / Michael Brockhurst / Michelle Afkhami)
  • Evolutionary Consequences of Epistasis
    (Santiago Elena / Sergey Kryazhimskiy / Claudia Bank / Arjan De Visser)
  • Evolution and Spread of Antibiotic Resistance
    (Dan Andersson / Miriam Barlow / Ruth Hershberg / Morten Sommer)
  • Evolution in the Field
    (Omar Cornejo / Luis Barreiro / Samuel Alizon)
  • Genome Evolution
    (Joel Sachs / B. Jesse Shapiro / Lionel Guy / Allison Hansen / Balazs Papp)
  • New Technologies Lead to New Opportunities
    (Clotilde Telling / Ivan Liachko / Sacha Levy / Ramunas Stepanauskas)
  • Ecological Interactions of Microbial Populations
    (Thomas Bell / Ivana Gudelj / Sara Mitri / Otto Cordero / Jose Montoya)
  • Effect of Spatial Structure on Biodiversity
    (Rachel Whitaker / Susan Bailey / Sylvain Gandon / Jay Lennon)
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