WAME – Wild Animal Microbiome Evolution


Recent years have seen a ver­it­able explo­sion of work on the micro­bi­o­me. With it comes the need to under­stand causes and con­sequences of micro­bi­o­me vari­ation under nat­ur­al conditions.

Our aim is to cre­ate space and provide resources to sup­port dis­cus­sion, col­lab­or­a­tion, and research to advance our under­stand­ing of the role of the micro­bi­o­me in evol­u­tion­ary bio­logy.


All anim­als har­bour microbes, and these diverse and com­plex com­munit­ies (the micro­bi­o­me) have pro­found and per­vas­ive effects on host bio­logy. Host-micro­bi­o­me inter­ac­tions can affect host fit­ness, through oblig­at­ory rela­tion­ships that gov­ern co-evol­u­tion­ary responses, or through fac­ultat­ive rela­tion­ships that shape spe­cif­ic host responses to loc­al envir­on­ment­al con­di­tions. Thus, there is huge poten­tial for host-micro­bi­o­me inter­ac­tions to mod­u­late host phen­o­types and adapt­ive responses.

Much of our exist­ing know­ledge on the import­ance of the micro­bi­o­me comes from labor­at­ory sys­tems; there­fore our under­stand­ing of the eco­lo­gic­al and evol­u­tion­ary sig­ni­fic­ance of host-micro­bi­o­me inter­ac­tions in wild sys­tems is very lim­ited. Stud­ies of nat­ur­ally-acquired micro­bi­o­mes in the wild, where hosts are exposed to com­plex envir­on­ment­al vari­ation and where selec­tion acts to determ­ine fit­ness, are cru­cial to under­stand­ing the evol­u­tion­ary sig­ni­fic­ance of the microbiome.

Many key ques­tions exist sur­round­ing the impact of these com­munit­ies on host fit­ness phen­o­types. Answer­ing such ques­tions is dif­fi­cult, due to sys­tem-spe­cif­ic dynam­ics, logist­ic­al sampling dif­fi­culties, and still-devel­op­ing stat­ist­ic­al approaches to max­im­ise infer­ence from com­plex data struc­tures. WAME aims to serve as a for­um to help identi­fy, dis­cuss and resolve such dif­fi­culties and, import­antly, learn from cross sys­tem sim­il­ar­it­ies and differences.

Special Topic Network Structure Overview

WAME aims to address ques­tions and con­tro­ver­sies in the field of wild micro­bi­o­me research by devel­op­ing a shared con­cep­tu­al frame­work with clear defin­i­tions and ter­min­o­logy applic­able across the dif­fer­ent domains in micro­bi­o­logy and evol­u­tion­ary bio­logy. Events bring­ing togeth­er research­ers in com­ple­ment­ary areas can help to lever­age cross-sys­tem know­ledge to detect over­arch­ing themes and inform nov­el ana­lyt­ic­al approaches for max­im­ising insight from the grow­ing num­bers of data­sets from wild sys­tems. In this regard, we aim to cre­ate a plat­form to gen­er­ate insights from the wild to build on the work from labor­at­ory sys­tems, thus facil­it­at­ing trans­la­tion to eco­lo­gic­ally real­ist­ic set­tings to define the role of the micro­bi­o­me in host evolution.WAME will also provide inclus­ive infra­struc­ture to sup­port train­ing and col­lab­or­a­tion. As micro­bi­o­me tech­niques are devel­op­ing in many sub­fields, this aim is par­tic­u­larly timely as it will sup­port devel­op­ment of both sci­ence and sci­ent­ists, par­tic­u­larly those who are not in micro­bi­o­logy-focussed groups.

Organising Committee

Pro­fess­or Trine Bilde, Aar­hus Uni­ver­sity
Dr Johannes Björk, Uni­ver­sity Med­ic­al Cen­ter Gronin­gen
Dr Xavi­er Har­ris­on, Uni­ver­sity of Exeter
Dr Sarah Knowles, Uni­ver­sity of Oxford
Dr Aoife Leonard, Uni­ver­sity of Copen­ha­gen
Dr Florent Mazel, Uni­ver­sity of Lausanne
Dr Amy Sweeny, Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh
Pro­fess­or Dav­id Richard­son, Uni­ver­sity of East Anglia
Dr Elin Videvall, Brown Uni­ver­sity & Uppsala Uni­ver­sity
Dr Sarah Wors­ley, Uni­ver­sity of East Anglia
Pro­fess­or Mark Viney, Uni­ver­sity of Liverpool

Contact and more information

To find out more or get in touch vis­it our web­site at: wamestn.com