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The Research

The field of symbiosis research has become highly active, after decades at the margins of mainstream biology. This recent renaissance has come from major advances in culture-independent methods used to study microbial organisms, mainly in two areas: 1) molecular techniques such as those used in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, and 2) imaging techniques and high-resolution microscopy.

Today, symbiosis research is in the midst of a revolution as molecular tools and novel imaging methods are providing new and unexpected insights into the biology, ecology, and evolution of symbiotic associations.

Associations between bacteria and lower animals provide ideal models for studying symbiotic interactions, including the beneficial microbial community of humans known as the human microbiota. This is because the microbial communities of lower animals are generally less diverse and complex than those of vertebrates, yet the mechanisms of recognition, colonization, persistence, signaling, and communication are highly similar.

Furthermore, protozoans and invertebrates are often easily accessible for experimental research and many host species can be cultured in the laboratory. By bringing together scientists that work on symbiotic associations from a wide range of host groups, the goal of Symbiomics is to establish an integrated European program for research on beneficial microbes of lower animals.