I just got back from Kansas State University’s 11th Ecological Genomics Symposium (EcoGen2013). The organizers continually invite speakers at the forefront of ecological and evolutionary genomics, and this year was no different. In addition to 14 engaging talks, the attendees are friendly and willing to discuss great science (and often unpublished results). It’s a great research community.
When attending meetings I always look for the overarching theme. While the organizers could have selected speakers on a particular theme, this symposium is never advertised as such; therefore, I consider any themes to be the product of excitement and progress within the community. The theme for EcoGen2013 was genomic change due to stressful environments. Stressors included aging, pollution, predators x2, high elevation, UV, temperature, and in some cases interactions between these stressors. This theme highlighted potential broader mechanisms to how populations and/or species may deal with environmental stress including parallel evolution and adaptive introgression. I was particularly interested in both the idea and the systems that could test at different time points genomic or transcriptomic differences between acclimation and adaptation. A thematic result being that changes allowing for acclimation and/or plasticity may not be in the same genes or even pathways as changes resulting in adaptation.
These studies, particularly how they span taxa and stressors, move our field closer to answering the big question: what is the genetic basis of adaptation?