Kansas State University's Ecological Genomics Institute will present an Ecological Genomics Symposium at the Muehlbach/Marriott Hotel in downtown Kansas city, Nov. 5-7.
Ecological genomics is an integrated field that focuses on how organisms, ecosystems and communities respond to environmental change. It uses genomic technologies, such as gene sequencing and expression analysis, on a wider scale to ask and research ecological questions, said Michael Herman, associate professor of biology.
The Ecological Genomics Institute, a multidisciplinary initiative that involves faculty from three colleges and six departments, including biology, plant pathology, entomology, statistics, agronomy, and computing and information sciences was created at K-State eight years ago.
It has become the only place in the world to house a homegrown central organization of faculty interested in ecological genomics. It is such research initiatives that could help K-State become a top 50 public research university by 2025. Herman and Loretta Johnson, associate professor of biology, serve as the institute's co-directors.
In addition to Herman's research, other areas of research in the Ecological Genomics Institute include hybrid speciation, transposons and genome evolution in wild sunflowers; genomics of plant virus-vector specificity and transmission; and ecotypic differentiation and genetic variation in the prairie grass Andropogon. As researchers have sequenced more genomes, they are trying to determine what different genes do. Researchers want to use the environment to characterize the genomes.
Herman works on ecological genomics research with nematodes, which are abundant animals that strongly respond to environmental disturbances. He has focused on how nitrogen addition to the soil affects nematodes.
While environmental genomic focuses more on human-induced changes, such as pollution and toxic chemicals, Herman said ecological genomics focuses on interactions between organisms.
For more information about the Ecological Genomics Symposium, including hotel accommodations, transportation and registration information, visit http://ecogen.ksu.edu/symp2010.