Lorentz Center - Predicting Evolution from 7 Oct 2019 through 11 Oct 2019
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    Predicting Evolution
    from 7 Oct 2019 through 11 Oct 2019


Predicting Evolution


Evolution affects our daily lives in many ways. Microbes and pest insects evolve resistance against antibiotics and pesticides, new flu virusses evolve every year, while all life has to adapt to climate change. Being able to predict the outcome of evolution would allow us to deal with such challenges more effectively. However, predicting the outcome of future evolution may seem grandiose, if not naive, given the many chance events that determine the course of evolution. Yet, researchers have begun to explore possibilities for predicting evolution, motivated by a number of recent methodological and conceptual developments in evolutionary biology. First, replicated laboratory evolution experiments with micro-organisms explore the repeatability of evolutionary trajectories and outcomes at short time scales under controlled conditions, as well as factors determining these patterns. Second, next-generation sequencing methods allow increasingly detailed reconstructions of past evolutionary processes over long time scales. Third, models are being developed that describe evolutionary processes in mechanistic detail. Together, these developments have yielded the first predictions with practical utility, such as for influenza vaccine selection and the control of drug resistance in infectious diseases and cancer. The aim of this workshop is to explore how evolutionary predictability may develop into a fruitful research agenda. We will bring together researchers with different backgrounds in biological evolution to explore the kinds of evolutionary changes that might be predicted, the time scales amenable to promising predictions and the quality of various predictions.