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Talk by Prof. Dr. Marie-France Sagot in the context of our Distinguished Speaker Series

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, Prof. Dr. Marie-France Sagot (INRIA Grenoble University of Lyon, France) will give a talk in the context of the CBI Distinguished Speaker Series. The talk is entitled "Towards an algorithmic and mathematical exploration of symbiosis" and will be held in Room 001, CBI (Building E 2.1) at 17:00 (sharp).



Symbiosis is described as a close relationship between different biological species, often of a long term nature. It is a pervasive phenomenon. It has for instance been estimated that 50% of all known species are parasites, that is maintain a symbiotic relation with another species from which they benefit while the partner in the relation is harmed. And it is believed that close to a 100% of all plants and animals are parasitised as individuals, in general by more than one species. Indeed, there are thought to be 10 times more bacterial cells in a human body than human cells (Savage, Tract. Annual Review of Microbiology, 1977). The idea of humans, and other animals or plants, as "superorganisms with an internal ecosystem of diverse symbiotic microbiota and parasites" has thus been advanced (Nicholson, Nature Biotechnology, 2004) and raises the issue of what is an individual, and what is species identity. Symbiosis, or at least its extent, role and precise nature are controversial but symbiosis appears also essential to understand some of the most fundamental evolutionary and functional questions related to living organisms. The enormous variety in the observed types of pair- and multi-wise symbiotic relations, and the fact that these relationships touch upon almost every aspect of biology, from molecular to ecological, raise also formidable mathematical and computational issues. This talk will survey some of these issues and the related work we have done or wish to do in the coming years.