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ISMB/ECCB 2021 - Distinguished Keynote

Eduardo Rocha

Eduardo Rocha

Genomes and Genetics
Institut Pasteur

Introduced by: Jacques Van Helden, Conference Co-chair
Time: Tuesday, July 27, 16:20 – 17:20 UTC
Presentation Title: Cosmos from chaos: how intra-genomic conflicts and horizontal transfer drive genome evolution


Horizontal gene transfer driven by self-mobilizable genetic elements allows the acquisition of complex adaptive traits and their transmission to subsequent generations. Transfer speeds up evolutionary processes as exemplified by the acquisition of virulence traits in emerging infectious agents and by antibiotic resistance in many human pathogens. Transfer is also costly because the vectors of horizontal transfer compete within genomes, have their own mobile elements and are often deadly. As a result, genomes are repositories of multiple immune systems from hosts and from mobile elements that interact in complex ways to drive gene flow in communities. The combination of evolutionary genomics and sequence analysis is now opening up these processes to show how they bring into the genome a constant flux of novel genes that favor the establishment and the invention of novel functions.


Eduardo Rocha studied Chemical Engineering and Applied Maths,  did a PhD in Bioinformatics and a Habilitation in Biology. He is the director of the Genome & Genetics department at Pasteur Institute, where he heads the Microbial Evolutionary Genomics lab since 2008. He is a Specialist in comparative genomics, in particular in the use of bioinformatics and biostatistics to study microbial evolution. His research aims at understanding how and why genomes are organized, and how such organizational features evolve in respect to genome dynamics and bacterial adaptation. In the last decade, his work has focused on the role of mobile genetic elements in shaping gene repertoires and driving functional innovation.