On August 28th, evolutionary biologists and microbial ecologists convened a Google+ Hangout to cross over geographic barriers and discuss the pros and cons of the hologenome - a concept that unifies the nuclear genome, cytoplasmic organelles and microbiome of the host as a unit of natural selection. The goal was to assemble diverse opinions on the topic in order to broadcast the pros and cons of the evidence and reason a consensus from different vantage points. Part of my interest in assembling it was based on three observations: (i) it's early days for the hologenome concept, so naturally there will be questions (ii) the science of the microbiome is at a tipping point and evolutionary biology may have something to say about it; the hologenome perhaps helps frame that evolutionary thinking (iii) but we dont know yet if terms like hologenome or metaorganism will stand the test of time, evidence, and critical thinking.
What follows in the video is the streamed "on air" recording with insights and quirks from the scientists that participated on the video chat. On air participants included Corrie Moreau (@CorrieMoreau), David Baltrus (@surt_lab), Devin Drown (@devindrown), Irene Newton (@chicaScientifc), Joey Simmons (@skotomorph), Beth Pringle (@egpringle), Laura Williams (@MicroWavesSci), Rob Brucker (@liveinsymbiosis), Mark Martin (@markowenmartin), and Seth Bordenstein (@Symbionticism). Others watched the live feed and used the chat box (not seen) to partake in the discussion.
The round table begins @ 10m 45s. Skip ahead.
Above all, the technology worked to transport minds that are geographically separated into a virtual conference room. Personally, I was unsure whether it would be a total flop or mild success. The general feeling by all was that we should very much do this again and its application to advancing science became very obvious. Look out for a G+ Hangout 2.0.
1. Musings from Twitter on the hologenome (July 17, 2013)
2. The Microbiome Blurs the Lines Between Genes and Environment (April 25, 2013)