SICB Annual Meeting 2017
January 4-8, 2017
New Orleans, LA

Symposium: With a Little Help from My Friends: Microbial Partners in Integrative and Comparative Biology
Recent studies have revealed that animals are not individuals but rather are "holobionts" that host highly diverse and interactive communities of microbes. These microbial communities provide a number of services and functions to their hosts. For the most part, investigations in the host-microbial interactions have been focused on humans or model systems targeted at human health. However, research into roles that microbes play in the ecology and evolution of their host is a rapidly growing area.

Studies focused in model laboratory systems and humans have drastically increased our understanding of how host-associated microbes can impact physiology, performance, and health. For example, gut microbes have been shown to influence mating preferences in flies and anxiety behavior in mice. Microbial colonization of the gut drastically alters the gene expression and function of the gut, especially in regards to training of the immune system. Additionally, transplanting the microbiome from male mice into female mice resulted in higher testosterone levels in recipients.

These studies provide the proof of concept and impetus for studying gut microbes in natural systems. Large-scale comparative studies have demonstrated that the diversity and function of the mammalian gut microbiota are sculpted by host diet, phylogeny, and gut anatomy. The social interactions of baboons can have profound effects of the structure of gut microbial communities. The microbes that live on amphibian skin are thought to be important in susceptibility to the emerging pathogen of chytrid fungus, so understanding the factors that influence these communities is important. These studies are just a sampling of the recent investigations that are beginning to uncover the importance of host-associated microbes in integrative biology of natural systems.

The purpose of this symposium is to bring together researchers that investigate host-microbe interactions in a variety of natural systems, addressing questions that are the focus of several divisions of SICB (ecoimmunology, physiology, behavior, endocrinology, etc.). This symposium will expose the members of SICB to the diversity of methods that can be used to study host-microbe interactions in natural systems. We hope that this symposium will inspire the members of SICB to consider the role of microbial associations in their study systems. Such studies will greatly expand our knowledge of how microbial association impact animal ecology and evolution.



  • Kevin Kohl, Postdoctoral Researcher, Vanderbilt University
  • Denise Dearing, Professor, University of Utah

Accompanying Workshop: A Primer on Incorporating the Microbiome into Integrative and Comparative Biology


S5-1 Friday, Jan. 6, 08:00 MOREAU, Corrie S.: The Diversity and Function of Gut Bacteria in Herbivorous Ants

S5-2 Friday, Jan. 6, 08:30 KOHL, K.D.*; BROOKS, A.W.; BRUCKER, R.M.; VAN OPSTAL, E.; BORDENSTEIN, S.R.: Phylosymbiosis: An Eco-Evolutionary Framework for Relationships and Functional Effects of Microbial Communities across Hosts

S5-3 Friday, Jan. 6, 09:00 PETERSEN, JM: Friends with unexpected benefits: New discoveries on the roles and functions of marine chemosynthetic symbioses

S5-4 Friday, Jan. 6, 09:30 MCKENZIE, VJ*; SONG, SJ; AMATO, KR; DELSUC, F; METCALF, JL; SANDERS, JG; KNIGHT, R: The effects of captivity on the vertebrate microbiome

S5-5 Friday, Jan. 6, 10:30 CAREY, Hannah V.*; ASSADI-PORTER, Fariba M.: Seasonal remodeling of the host-microbe symbiosis in hibernation

S5-6 Friday, Jan. 6, 11:00 SANDERS, Jon G*; SONG, Se Jin; METCALF, Jessica; AMATO, Katherine; DELSUC, Frederic; MCKENZIE, Valerie; KNIGHT, Rob: The evolution of the tetrapod gut microbiome

S5-7 Friday, Jan. 6, 11:30 DEARING, M. Denise*; KOHL, K: Beyond Fermentation: Gut microbes reduce toxicity of herbivore diets

S5-8 Friday, Jan. 6, 13:30 ARCHIE, E.A.*; TUNG, J.; BLEKHMAN, R.; BARREIRO, L.; GRIENEISEN, L.; ALBERTS, S.C.; ALTMANN, J.: Socially structured gut microbiomes in wild baboons

S5-9 Friday, Jan. 6, 14:00 KNUTIE, S.A.*; WILKINSON, C.L.; KOHL, K.D.; ROHR, J.R.: Early-life disruption of host microbiota reduces later-life resistance to infections

S5-10 Friday, Jan. 6, 14:30 PHILLIPS, Caleb D*; HANSON, J. Delton; WILKINSON, Jeremy E; KOENIG, Lawrence; REES, Eric; WEBALA, Paul; KINGSTON, Tigga: Microbiome Structural and Functional Incongruence across Host Dietary Niche Space

S5-11 Friday, Jan. 6, 15:00 SUZUKI, T.A.*; PHIFER-RIXEY, M.; FERRIS, K.G.; CHAVEZ, A.; MARTINS, F.M.; NACHMAN, M.W.: Gut microbiome and Bergmann’s rule in natural populations of house mice.