2019 Preparatory school on Population Genetics and Evolution

popgen2019-poster_smallKavita Jain (JNCASR) and I have organized a series of ICTS Schools on Population Genetics and Evolution since 2014. To help participants get better prepared for the next school (scheduled in 2020), we are now introducing a preparatory school in Feb 2019. The intensive 1-week school will introduce biologists to key mathematical tools, and non-biologists to key biological concepts.

Applications open on 15 Oct, and will be accepted until 15 Nov 2018. Find more information here.

Announcing the 2018 SPEEC-UP competition

Speecup poster 2018 finalI’m happy to announce that the 2nd edition of the SPEEC-UP 2018 meeting is open for abstracts. The meeting features student presentations (including research project staff and postdocs) on Ecology, Evolution, Environmental Sciences and Conservation. The meeting is organised by a bunch of folks from ATREE, IISc, NCBS, Dakshin, NCF, and WCS. 

This year, SPEEC-UP will be held at CES, IISc on 31st August 2018. Here is the link for abstract submission (deadline: 25th June).
This is a Bangalore centric student event to provide a platform for students and faculty to get together. There are prizes worth Rs 40k to be won, so do consider competing!

Update: The 2018 competition was a lot of fun. As always, I was amazed to learn about the wide diversity of work in my field that is happening in Bangalore. For a brief glimpse of the event, watch this!

Winter conference season

This winter is packed with exciting meetings! Here’s the menu:

Pratibha and I just returned from a fantastic SMBE satellite meeting in Kaziranga, Assam. Congratulations to Pratibha for getting a travel grant to present her work! The meeting brought together a bunch of people working on microbial evolution in natural and experimental populations. There was lively discussion on a wide range of topics in microbial evolution, good food, and of course, Rhinos. Big thanks to the key organizers, Siddartha Sankar Satapathy and Edward Feil!

Vrinda and I are now off to IISER Pune for a Conference on Evolutionary and Integrative Biology. The speaker lineup includes many seasoned and new evolutionary biologists across India, so we are looking forward to an exciting meeting.

Soon after this, the whole lab (and our campus) will participate in the 2018 NCBS Annual Talks. Mrudula, Rittik, Laasya, and Gaurav Agavekar will each present posters about their work; and Gaurav Diwan will present a short talk.

Finally, to conclude this conference season I will speak at an Indo-French workshop on Evolutionary Developmental and Cell biology (EVODECE) at the Observatoire Oceanologique de Banyuls sur Mer in France. The meeting is funded by CEFIPRA and DST, and features a very diverse collection of evolutionary and cell biologists from India and France.

Do come talk to us if you spot us at any of these events!

Summer travel

The conference season is suddenly upon us! The lab will be out in full force this year since many of the first people to join the lab have cool results to report. Everyone has received various competitive grants to help support their travel, which is superb news! We are all looking forward to good feedback and hearing about the latest in evolutionary biology from across the world. Do come and chat if you spot us.

Kruttika and Aparna are off to the Evolution meeting in Portland, Oregon. Aparna is supported by a DST travel grant.

Mrudula, Saurabh, Gaurav and I will be at the SMBE meeting in Austin, Texas. Mrudula has a DBT travel grant, Gaurav has a DST travel grant, and Saurabh has a CSIR travel fellowship.

After SMBE, Mrudula and I will hop over to the GRC on Microbial Population Biology in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Saurabh will spend some time visiting labs in Boston and then attend the MBL Workshop on Molecular Evolution at Woods Hole. Saurabh has received funding support from MBL as well as CSIR.

In August, Mrudula, Gaurav and Saurabh will join me in Barcelona, Spain, to teach in the School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology.

Finally, to wrap up the summer: Aparna, Kruttika and I will participate in the ESEB meeting in Groningen, Netherlands. Aparna has received an ESEB travel award to attend this meeting.

New paper on the evolutionary implications of stress-induced mutations

Recently I wrote a Primer (a short tutorial/introduction for a subject of broad interest) to accompany a new paper in PLoS Biology demonstrating stress-specific mutation spectra in E. coli (Maharjan and Ferenci 2017). Stress-induced mutagenesis (SIM) is a fascinating phenomenon, whereby some organisms show a transient increase in mutation rates when exposed to stresses such as starvation. However, the evolutionary implications of this phenomenon have been controversial, and I give a brief introduction to this debate (and potential ways forward) in my Primer. In their paper, Maharjan and Ferenci show that not all stresses induce mutagensis, but each stress produces a unique distribution of mutational types. These results suggest that stress-specific mutation spectra may influence evolutionary trajectories in a stress-specific manner. This remains to be explicitly tested, but we are now a little bit closer to understanding the evolutionary consequences of SIM.

The Primer and the related paper are available online, if you would like to know more.