Sunday, April 21, 2013

My talk at the University of Indiana at Bloomington

I had the pleasure of visiting The University of Indiana at Bloomington in early April. With nearly 80 biologists sprinkled across the integrative department including many good friends and tweeters, Bloomington is an intellectual hub of life sciences research.

Here's my seminar "Mainlining the Hologenome into Biology". The term hologenome is rather new to biology and some may consider it controversial, even jargon. Part of me concedes that it could be, but a rising number of biologists think that we do need a term like it, i.e., holobiont or metaorganism. For an intro to the origin of the concept, the New Scientist recently featured the hologenome theory on their cover. The future of biology continues to be integrative where the lines between disparate disciplines are increasingly blurry. The term hologenome is useful because it encompasses the rather simple idea that the total microbiome of a host plus its nuclear and cytoplasmic genomes comprise a unit of selection from which nature picks the fittest organism / hologenome. This concept melds the diverse vantage points of evolutionary geneticists and microbiologists; hence, it will not be accepted immediately, nor should it. Big ideas demand big evidence. Further, terms will not change knowledge, but they help to fashion the framework of experimentation that will.

Disclaimer: exuberant editing on the quote slide done in iMovie.

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