Sunday, August 14, 2011

The best of....... SMBE2011

With this post I initiate a series that will highlight some talks or posters in (some of) the meetings I attend. I want to note from the very beginning that this is very subjective and is according to my own taste and interests. I hope, however, that these highlights may also be interesting for some of the readers of this blog.

 I came back recently from the last Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution meeting (SMBE 2011) in Kyoto, Japan. This meeting has been marked by the recent natural disaster of the 2011 earthquake that affected the nuclear power station of Fukushima and the attendance was significantly lower than recent SMBE meetings. (around 650 attendees as compared to 2000 in SMMBE2010 in Lyon). However, despite this, the quality of the meeting has been really high with plenty of interesting presentations in the form of posters or talks.

 The poster that most caught my attention was one presenting the "Centroid Wheel Tree" representation, who allows representing alternative topologies within the same phylogenetic tree.
Wheel Tree Representation

I still have to explore that possibility and how it differs from the more standard network representations, but it looks promising and fairly adequate to accomodate our interest in accounting for the topological variation within phylomes.  

Among the selected oral presentations, my favourite was that  from Shigehiro Kuraku (Konstanz University, Germany) on the debated positions of the two rounds of whole genome duplications in the early vertebrates.

 From the invited speakers I would choose the talk of Nancy Moran, which went through many fascinating examples of insect endosymbiotic bacteria showing extremely reduced genomes.

 And, finally, one of the interesting parts of the meeting was one special session organized to conmemorate Walter Fitch, who passed away earlier this year (see my previous post). It was iinteresting to hear of many annecdotes from Masatoshi Nei, who shared with him the efforts of initiating the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution and the MBE journal.

Mashatoshi Nei commemorating Walter Fitch at SMBE 2011

 Of course these are just some very personal highlights from a very interesting meeting. I will most probably attend next SMBE 2012  meeting in Dublin.  

 PS- I just noted that my blog has surpassed the 1,000 visits, this is encouraging.