Joseph Felsenstein is Professor in the Departments of Genome Sciences and Biology and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is best known for his work on phylogenetic inference, and is the author of Inferring Phylogenies, and principal author and distributor of the package of phylogenetic inference programs called PHYLIP, and is currently serving as the President of the Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution.

You can reach Joe at

James McInerney is the principle investigator of the Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution Laboratories at NUI Maynooth. He was one of the founding directors of the Irish Centre for High End Computing, an Associate Editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Biology Direct, and Journal of Experimental Zoology, and is currently serving as the Secretary for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

You can reach James at

Juliette de Meaux is interested in the molecular basis of Darwinian adaptation in natural plant systems. Her works combines the approaches of population, quantitative and molecular genetics to dissect the underpinning of adaptive changes. She completed her PhD at AgroParisTech, under the supervision of Prof. Claire Neema and studied the molecular basis of host-pathogen coevolution in natural populations of common bean. She then spent her Postdoc time in the lab of Prof. Tom Mitchell-Olds at the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology in Jena and worked on the evolution of cis-regulatory DNA. Since 2005, she runs her own lab, first at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Breeding in Cologne and then at the University of Münster. In January 2015, she relocated her lab at the University of Cologne. She is currently serving as the Treasurer for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

You can reach Juliette at


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The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution is an international organization whose goals are to provide facilities for association and communication among molecular evolutionists and to further the goals of molecular evolution, as well as its practitioners and teachers. In order to accomplish these goals, the Society publishes two peer-reviewed journals, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Genome Biology and Evolution. The Society sponsors an annual meeting, as well as smaller satellite meetings or workshop on important, focused, and timely topics. It also confers honors and awards to students and researchers.

SMBE 2017

On behalf of the organising committee it is our pleasure to invite you to attend SMBE 2017 - the annual meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. SMBE 2017 will be held from the 2nd-6th of July at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX, USA. The meeting - including plenary talks, symposia presentations, the Walter Fitch symposium, and poster sessions - will showcase the latest research in genomics, population genetics, and molecular biology and evolution. Social activities will include an opening reception, mixers with each poster session, and a conference dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Austin this summer!

More information can be found HERE

Featured News and Updates

Call for Proposals: SMBE Satellite Meetings

In addition to supporting its annual meeting, SMBE Council will provide funds in aid of one or more workshops or small (with fewer than 100 participants) SATELLITE MEETINGS per calendar year. In the past five years, SMBE has supported multiple satellite meetings on diverse topics:

·         Phylomedicine 2012

·         Eukaryotic Metagenomics 2013

·         Mechanisms of Protein Evolution II 2013

·         The Origin of Life 2014

·         Causes of Genome Evolution 2014

·         Phylogenomic Networks in Microbial Genome Evolution 2014

·         Investigating biological adaptation with NGS: data and models 2015

·         Mutation, Repair and Evolution 2015

·         Phylogenetics and Biodiversity 2015

·         Mechanisms of Protein Evolution III 2015

·         Genome Evolution in Pathogen Transmission and Disease 2016

·         Genetics of admixed populations 2016

·         RNA modification and its implication on adaptation and evolution 2016

·         Mitochondrial Genomics and Evolution 2017

SMBE is now calling for proposals for workshops/satellite meetings to be held between Fall 2017 and Fall 2018. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to members of the molecular evolution research community to run workshops/satellite meetings on an important, focused, and timely topic of their choice. The deadline for submission of proposals is April 10, 2017.

NEW: SMBE INTERDISCIPLINARY AND REGIONAL ACTIONS. In addition to supporting its annual meeting and satellite meetings, SMBE will promote interdisciplinary research and extend its actions worldwide by sponsoring (1) joint meetings with meetings of other societies; symposia or plenary lectures on molecular biology and evolution at meetings whose primary focus is not molecular evolution; (2) regional meetings outside the US, Europe, and Japan; (3) small regional meetings in the US, Europe, or Japan targeted towards PhD students and postdocs with the purpose of helping them develop their presentation skills and facilitate networking. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to members of the molecular evolution research community to run all three types of actions. SMBE is now calling for proposals to be held between Fall 2017 and Fall 2018. The number of awards will depend on the quality of proposals and total cost. The deadline for submission of proposals is April 10, 2017.


• SMBE will provide financial support for up to 80% of the cost of each satellite meeting, up to maximum of $40,000 USD per meeting (most meetings are funded at $20,000-$30,000 each). SMBE will provide financial support for up to 80% of the cost for the joint and regional meetings, up to maximum of $25,000 USD per meeting (up to $10,000 USD for small regional meetings in the US, Europe, or Japan). SMBE will cover the cost of plenary lectures, up to a maximum of $3,000 USD per lecture. A detailed projected budget, including the expected number of participants, travel/food/lodging costs, and registration fees must be submitted with the application.

At least one of the organizers must be a member of SMBE. Current SMBE Council members, or members who have rotated-off Council in the last calendar year, are not eligible to serve as meeting organizers or co-organizers.

• For satellite meetings, funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to members of the molecular evolution research community that propose an important, focused, and timely topic. Topics not well represented in symposia of SMBE annual meetings will be favored over those that are already well represented at the annual meetings or previous SMBE satellite meetings. For Interdisciplinary and Regional actions, meetings/symposia/lectures will be selected based on the scientific importance, timeliness and anticipated impact on the fields of molecular biology, genome biology, and evolution.

·   Proposals are encouraged to include details for plans about the recruitment of speakers and participants that will ensure broad representation across SMBE membership, including gender and geographical location. Proposals for meetings to be organized in geographical areas that have been traditionally under-represented in SMBE meetings (annual or satellite) are especially encouraged.

• Proposals will be received and reviewed by the SMBE Satellite Workshop Committee and SMBE Interdisciplinary and Regional Actions Committee. Each Committee will consist of four individuals: one SMBE Council Member (who will also serve as Chair) and three other members of SMBE. The committees will make a recommendation to SMBE Council, whose decision is final. The committees or SMBE Council may decide not to support any meeting in any particular year.

• Events will be named “SMBE Satellite Meeting on XYZ”, or “SMBE Interdisciplinary Meeting/Symposium/Lecture” and “SMBE Regional Meeting in XYZ(Geographic Location)”. Meeting organizers should host a website for the meeting that highlights the main theme as well as program, including the speaker list. This website should stay active for at least 3 years after the meeting date. Symposium and lecture organizers should provide a link to be advertised on the SMBE webpage. The sponsorship of the SMBE must be mentioned in all pre-meeting publicity and in the meeting programme.

• The satellite meeting/workshop and a regional meeting must be a standalone event. It should not form a symposium or other part of a larger meeting. It should not immediately follow or precede any other meeting.

• Organizers will be required to submit a copy of the final workshop/symposium/meeting program and a short (~2 page) report of the workshop/symposium/meeting highlights to SMBE Council within 3 months of the event.  The report for satellite meetings should be sent to Kateryna Makova (, and for Interdisciplinary and Regional Actions – to Maud Tenaillon (

Instructions for proposals

Satellite meeting / workshop proposals should be sent by email to the Chair of the SMBE Satellite Workshop Committee Kateryna Makova ( Interdisciplinary and Regional Actions proposals should be sent by email to the Chair of the SMBE Interdisciplinary Regional Actions Committee Maud Tenaillon (

The deadline for submission of proposals is April 10, 2017.

1. Provide the name(s) and full contact information for all organizer(s) and institution(s) involved. Universities/ organizations providing additional financial support, if involved, should also be listed. If additional funding is being simultaneously applied for, please state the status of that request as well.

2. Workshop/action summary  (4 single-spaced pages max, 1 page max for a lecture). Describe the scientific rationale for your proposed workshop. In doing so, be sure to clearly state (1) the importance and timeliness of the topic, (2) the anticipated short-term and long-term impacts of your meeting or action on the fields of molecular biology, genome biology, and evolution, (3) the proposed structure of your workshop/meeting or action (e.g., lectures only, lectures + hands-on training sessions, contributed talks, poster sessions, etc.), (4) an indicative list of proposed invited speakers; (5) for satellite meetings only: why a workshop/small meeting format is preferable to a symposium at the SMBE annual meeting; (6) for interdisciplinary actions only: the relevance of mixing communities (for joint meetings, symposia and plenary lectures at non-evolution meetings); (7) for regional actions outside the US, Europe, and Japan only: the relevance of promoting actions in specific regions; (8) for small regional actions in the US, Europe, and Japan only: the extent and nature of student/postdoctoral fellow involvement.

3. Financial summary. Please summarize your financial request, including estimated total budget, registration costs (if any), travel support for speakers / trainees, and details of non-SMBE funds to be used.

  • Monday, March 13, 2017
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Extreme Mitogenomic Variation in Natural Populations of Chaetognaths


The extent of within-species genetic variation across the diversity of animal life is an underexplored problem in ecology and evolution. Although neutral genetic variation should scale positively with population size, mitochondrial diversity levels are believed to show little variation across animal species. Here, we report an unprecedented case of extreme mitochondrial diversity within natural populations of two morphospecies of chaetognaths (arrow worms). We determine that this diversity is composed of deep sympatric mitochondrial lineages, which are in some cases as divergent as human and platypus. Additionally, based on 54 complete mitogenomes, we observed mitochondrial gene order differences between several of these lineages. We examined nuclear divergence patterns (18S, 28S, and an intron) to determine the possible origin of these lineages, but did not find congruent patterns between mitochondrial and nuclear markers. We also show that extreme mitochondrial divergence in chaetognaths is not driven by positive selection. Hence, we propose that the extreme levels of mitochondrial variation could be the result of either a complex scenario of reproductive isolation, or a combination of large population size and accelerated mitochondrial mutation rate. These findings emphasize the importance of characterizing genome-wide levels of nuclear variation in these species and promote chaetognaths as a remarkable model to study mitochondrial evolution.

Unraveling the Population History of Indian Siddis


The Siddis are a unique Indian tribe of African, South Asian, and European ancestry. While previous investigations have traced their ancestral origins to the Bantu populations from subSaharan Africa, the geographic localization of their ancestry has remained elusive. Here, we performed biogeographical analysis to delineate the ancestral origin of the Siddis employing an admixture based algorithm, Geographical Population Structure (GPS). We evaluated the Siddi genomes in reference to five African populations from the 1000 Genomes project, two Bantu groups from the Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP) and five South Indian populations. The Geographic Population Structure analysis localized the ancestral Siddis to Botsawana and its present-day northeastern border with Zimbabwe, overlapping with one of the principal areas of secondary Bantu settlement in southeast Africa. Our results further indicated that while the Siddi genomes are significantly diverged from that of the Bantus, they manifested the highest genomic proximity to the North-East Bantus and the Luhyas from Kenya. Our findings resonate with evidences supporting secondary Bantu dispersal routes that progressed southward from the east African Bantu center, in the interlacustrine region and likely brought the ancestral Siddis to settlement sites in south and southeastern Africa from where they were disseminated to India, by the Portuguese. We evaluated our results in the light of existing historical, linguistic and genetic evidences, to glean an improved resolution into the reconstruction of the distinctive population history of the Siddis, and advance our knowledge of the demographic factors that likely contributed to the contemporary Siddi genomes.

The Genomic Impact of Gene Retrocopies: What Have We Learned from Comparative Genomics, Population Genomics, and Transcriptomic Analyses?


Gene duplication is a major driver of organismal evolution. Gene retroposition is a mechanism of gene duplication whereby a gene’s transcript is used as a template to generate retroposed gene copies, or retrocopies. Intriguingly, the formation of retrocopies depends upon the enzymatic machinery encoded by retrotransposable elements, genomic parasites occurring in the majority of eukaryotes. Most retrocopies are depleted of the regulatory regions found upstream of their parental genes; therefore, they were initially considered transcriptionally incompetent gene copies, or retropseudogenes. However, examples of functional retrocopies, or retrogenes, have accumulated since the 1980s. Here, we review what we have learned about retrocopies in animals, plants and other eukaryotic organisms, with a particular emphasis on comparative and population genomic analyses complemented with transcriptomic datasets. In addition, these data have provided information about the dynamics of the different “life cycle” stages of retrocopies (i.e., polymorphic retrocopy number variants, fixed retropseudogenes and retrogenes) and have provided key insights into the retroduplication mechanisms, the patterns and evolutionary forces at work during the fixation process and the biological function of retrogenes. Functional genomic and transcriptomic data have also revealed that many retropseudogenes are transcriptionally active and a biological role has been experimentally determined for many. Finally, we have learned that not only non-long terminal repeat retroelements but also long terminal repeat retroelements play a role in the emergence of retrocopies across eukaryotes. This body of work has shown that mRNA-mediated duplication represents a widespread phenomenon that produces an array of new genes that contribute to organismal diversity and adaptation.