Symposium title:

Molecular evolution of the vertebrate immune system,
from the lab to natural populations


Prof. Michal Vinkler,
Prof. Helena Westerdahl, 


7 September 2021, 17:30-20:30 (CEST)

8 September 2021, 14:00-18:30 (CEST)

9 September 2021, 14:00-18:30 (CEST)

10 September 2021, 9:00-12:10 (CEST)


  • invited talks: 25 minutes + 10 min discussion
  • regular talks: 10 minutes + 5 min discussion

The registration is now closed.

Recordings of the presentations are available:

Symposium programme and presentation abstracts:

List of invited speakers:‬‬‬

  1. Prof. Adrian Smith (University of Oxford): Adaptive evolution of Toll like receptors and the selective pressures that drive these events
  2. Prof. Anna Savage (University of Central Florida): Immunogenomic adaptation to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in North American leopard frogs
  3. Prof. Irene Tieleman (University of Groningen): Ecological immunology of wild birds: mechanistic insights for adaptive variation
  4. Dr. Amberleigh Henschen (University of Memphis, early career scientist): Potential mechanisms underlying disease tolerance to a recently emerged songbird pathogen
  5. Dr. Andy Flies (University of Tasmania): special guest with a closing talk

Symposium abstract:

Driven by co-evolution with pathogens, hosts adapt molecular mechanisms of their immune defence to fit specific environmental conditions and deal with their phylogenetic constraints. Recent methodological advances have allowed us to appreciate and explore the enormous diversity of immune defence strategies in natural animal populations. However, in order to formulate sensible questions on the ultimate evolutionary reasons for the observed variation, we essentially need to better understand the underlying interspecific immunological differences. Therefore, at this ESEB 2021 Online Satellite Symposium we wish to discuss the present advances in approaches to investigate molecular evolution in the vertebrate immune system – from pathogen detection to immune defence regulation and pathogen clearance. Beyond reviewing the state-of the-art in the field of evolutionary and ecological immunology (eco-immunology), our aim is to highlight the shifts in major research topics and based on a collective discussion identify the main challenges of its further development.