• Living Systems


September, 27 - 28, 2018

Lecture Hall - MPI for Intelligent Systems, Max-Planck-Ring 4, 72076 Tübingen


We are pleased to invite you to our symposium on Living Systems on the 27th and 28th of September, in the auditorium of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology welcomes renowned scientist from outside institutions who are among the leading specialists in their field of expertise. Their keynote talks will provide insights into cutting-edge research on Living Systems and an outlook for the future of this field.

Symposium Flyer (PDF)

Youssef Belkhadir

Gregor Mendel Institute

Youssef Belkhadir’s research focuses on the sensory responses of plants using an expanded family of molecular sensors termed the receptor kinases. The overarching goal of the research is to understand the range of computations a given plant cell performs when suites of receptors are engaged by their cognate ligands.


Amy Buck

Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, University of Edinburgh

Amy Buck’s research centers on host-microbial interactions mediated by small RNAs, such as between viruses, helminths and host immunity, with a focus on the mechanisms of inter-kingdom transfer of small RNAs.


Susana Coelho

Roscoff Biological Station, CNRS

Susana Coelho’s research focuses on the developmental and reproductive biology of brown algae, the origin and evolution of the sexes, and the mechanisms controlling their complex life cycles. Her work combines forward genetics and genomics approaches.


Dina Dechmann

MPI for Ornithology

Dina Dechmann’s research takes an evolutionary approach to behavioral ecology. Using bats as a model system, Dechmann addresses questions such as the basis for group living, and the role of long and short distance in the evolution of sociality.


Knut Drescher

MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology

Knut Drescher focuses on understanding multicellular microbial behaviors, using biofilm formation, swarming, and collective gene regulation as model systems, with a physics inspired perspective.


Hanna Johannesson

Organismal Biology, Uppsala University

Hanna Johannesson uses fungi as models to explore general evolutionary questions such as natural selection operating at multiple levels in the biological hierarchy, the causes and consequences of symbioses and switches in reproductive mode.


Kayla King

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Kayla King studies host-parasite interactions to answer questions regarding the drivers of rapid evolution, the benefits of sex and the basis for high genetic diversity in natural populations. Her work combines laboratory and field experiments.


Hélène Morlon


In her work, Hélène Morlon combines mathematics, bioinformatics and fieldwork to study questions ranging from macroevolution and macroecology to community assembly, biogeography, and conservation. The organisms she studies range from microbes to songbirds.


Corina Tarnita

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
Princeton University

Corina Tarnita develops theoretical frameworks to study the organization and emergent properties of complex adaptive systems at multiple scales, from single cells to entire ecosystems. The theoretical work is firmly grounded in empirical data.


Jens Walter

Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

Jens Walter’s research takes an evolutionary and ecological view of host-bacterial co-evolution. His work focuses on the evolutionary adaptation of the Lactobacilli to the mammalian gut, and how genetic and environmental factors shape host-microbial co-adaptation.


Alexandra Worden

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Alexandra Worden focuses on the basic biology of eukaryotic microbes to shed light on the evolution of eukaryotes, including land plants, as well as the regulation of photoautotrophic microbes, combining extensive ocean sampling with laboratory experiments.


Thursday, September 27th

Session I - Chair: Ruth E. Ley

1:30 p.m. Welcome
1:35 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Jens Walter - Modulation of the gut microbiota: An ecological perspective
2:20 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Corina Tarnita - Self-organization, emergence, and robustness of complex adaptive systems
3:05 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Coffee Break


Session II - Chair: Detlef Weigel

3:30 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. Dina Dechmann - Regrowing the brain: causes and consequences of seasonal reversible size changes in a mammal
4:15 p.m. - 4:55 p.m. Youssef Belkhadir - Organizing principles and operational concepts in plant sensory systems
5:00 p.m. - 5:40 p.m. Amy Buck - RNA interference mechanisms in host-pathogen interactions

Friday, September 28th

Session III - Chair: Andrei N. Lupas

8:30 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Susana Coelho - Evo-devo in a billion-years timescale: origin and evolution of developmental patterns in the brown algae
9:15 a.m. - 9:55 a.m.  Hélène Morlon - Ecological determinants of diversification and phenotypic evolution: a phylogenetic approach for understanding global scale diversity patterns
10:00 a.m. - 10:40 a.m. Kayla King - Killers and protectors: rapid evolution of microbe-mediated defences against infection

10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Coffee Break


Session IV - Chair: Ralf Sommer

11:00 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. Alexandra Worden - How tiny eukaryotic cells shape marine ecosystems
11:45 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. Knut Drescher - Bacterial multicellular development
12:30 p.m. - 13:10 p.m. Hanna Johannesson - Conflict as a motor for evolutionary change: insights from model fungi


Ruth Ley

Department of Microbiome Science

Phone: +49 (0)7071 601 449
Email: micro_admin(at)tuebingen.mpg.de
Web: leylab.tue.mpg.de

Detlef Weigel

Department of Molecular Biology

Phone: +49 (0)7071-601 1411
Email: huelya.wicher(at)tuebingen.mpg.de
Web: weigelworld.org