Plasticity across scales: from molecules to phenotypes – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

Plasticity across scales: from molecules to phenotypes


This conference will take place at EMBL Heidelberg, with the option to attend virtually. Please see EMBL’s COVID-19 safety policy for testing and other requirements if attending the on-site event.

Couldn’t attend the event? Check out our event reporters take on the meeting – Six enlightening questions about ‘plasticity across scales’.

Symposium overview

This symposium aims to bring together a diverse group of scientists to discuss phenotypic, developmental and transgenerational plasticity from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, focusing on its underlying molecular mechanisms and its role in driving evolutionary novelty. The meeting is designed to provide an interactive platform for scientists who share a common interest in plasticity but usually do not meet, within an intensive conference setting. 

Session topics

  • Plasticity and molecular mechanisms
    • Environmentally sensitive gene regulatory networks
    • Metabolic signaling
    • Moonlighting proteins/enzymes
  • Transgenerational plasticity
    • Inherited effects of parental/ancestral environments
    • Mechanisms for heritable environmental effects (incl. epigenetic)
  • Role of plasticity in driving evolutionary novelty
    • What is the role of plasticity in the formation of adaptive radiations?
    • What role does natural selection play in shaping the boundaries of reaction norms?
    • Are evolutionary lineages that are particularly species rich also particularly plastic?
  • Plasticity in the real world
    • Plasticity as a source of ecological complementarity
    • Microbiome/host interplay
    • Developmental plasticity and medicine


Ian Baldwin

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology


Nicole King

University of California, Berkeley


(Virtual speaker)

Lisa Shama

Alfred Wegener Institute


(Virtual speaker)

Ralf Sommer

Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen


Benjamin Tu

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Scientific organisers

Conference organiser

Iva Gavran

EMBL Heidelberg



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  • Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic situation, some speakers may need to join virtually to give their talk, and the programme is subject to change.
  • For registered participants, recorded talks will be accessible on demand for 2 weeks after the end of the event, unless indicated otherwise.
Day 1 – Wednesday 26 October 2022
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
12:00 – 13:30Registration and light refreshments
13:30 – 14:00Opening remarks
14:00 – 17:45Session 1
14:00 – 14:30What’s cooler than being cool? (Ice cold!)
Oded Rechavi – Tel Aviv University, Israel
14:30 – 14:45A clonal plant acquires transgenerational stress resistance in nature
Meret Huber – University of Münster, Germany
14:45 – 15:15Studying patterns of multitrait change in diatoms (and other phytoplankton)
Sinead Collins – University of Edinburgh, UK
15:15 – 16:00Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Oded Rechavi, Meret Huber and Sinead Collins
16:00 – 16:30Spit Happens! Insect feeding elicit ecologically-relevant plasticity in their host plants
Ian Baldwin – Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany
16:30 – 16:45Nutritional control of appendage development in a sea anemone
Jaroslav Ferenc – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
Not available on demand
16:45 – 17:00Light and food interplay controlling phenotypic plasticity in sea urchin larvae
Maria Cocurullo – Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy
17:00 – 17:30Environmental regulation of choanoflagellate cell state transitions
Nicole King – University of California, Berkeley, USA (Virtual speaker)
17:30 – 17:45Morphological plasticity in an animal ancestor and the evolution of cell differentiation in animals
Victoria Shabardina – Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Spain
17:45 – 18:30Meet the speakers with:
Ian Baldwin, Jaroslav Ferenc, Maria Cocurullo and Victoria Shabardina
18:30 – 20:00Dinner
20:00 – 21:30After dinner drinks in ATC Rooftop Lounge
Day 2 – Thursday 27 October 2022
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
09:15 – 14:45Session 2
09:15 – 09:45Odor preference learning and inheritance in Bicyclus anynana butterflies
Antonia Monteiro – National University of Singapore, Singapore
09:45 – 10:00Mechanisms underlying the evolution of phenotypic plasticity
Suhrid Ghosh – Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
10:00 – 10:15Developmental phenomics suggests that H3K4 monomethylation confers multi-level phenotypic robustness
Lautaro Gandara – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
10:15 – 10:45Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Antonia Monteiro, Suhrid Ghosh and Lautaro Gandara
10:45 – 11:15Phenotypic plasticity in Daphnia: from molecules to ecosystems
Ralph Tollrian – Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
11:15 – 11:30Mosquitoes, love, memory: mechanisms toward a lifetime of behavior in Aedes aegypti females
Leah Houri-Zeevi – Rockefeller University, USA
Not available on demand
11:30 – 12:00Evolution of novel metabolic pathways
Shelley Copley – University of Colorado Boulder, USA
12:00 – 12:15The role of glycolytic flux-signaling in regulation of developmental timing
Hidenobu Miyazawa – EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
12:15 – 13:45Lunch and Meet the speakers with:
Ralph Tollrian, Leah Houri-Zeevi, Shelley Copley and Hidenobu Miyazawa
13:45 – 14:15Developmental plasticity and transgenerational inheritance: from molecular mechanisms to canalization
Ralf Sommer – Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen, Germany
Not available on demand
14:15 – 14:30Diet-dependent maternal provisioning of ribosomes controls intergenerational plasticity of C. elegans growth
Sigma Pradhan – Institute of Cell Biology-University of Bern, Switzerland
14:30 – 14:45The role of gene expression plasticity during recurrent altitudinal divergence
Aglaia Szukala – Austrian Research Centre for Forests, Austria
14:45 – 15:30Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Ralf Sommer, Sigma Pradhan and Aglaia Szukala
15:30 – 16:30Session 3
15:30 – 15:45Phenotypic diversity of diel rhythms reveals disconnect between behavior, circadian clock, and metabolism in a marine worm
Sören Häfker – Max Perutz Labs – University of Vienna, Austria
Not available on demand
15:45 – 16:15Plasticity and sociality: Hormonal gatekeeping via the blood brain barrier governs complex behavior in ants
Karl Glastad – University of Pennsylvania, USA
16:15 – 16:30Developmental plasticity as a predisposing factor for tumorigenesis
Ilaria Panzeri – Van Andel Institute, USA and Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Germany
16:30 – 18:00Poster session 1 (all posters) and Meet the speakers with: Sören Häfker, Karl Glastad and Ilaria Panzeri
18:00Free evening
18:20 – 19:50Optional: Heidelberg Old Town tour with an English speaking tour guide (registration required)
Day 3 – Friday 28 October 2022
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
09:15 – 14:15Session 3 continued
09:15 – 09:45“Non-genetic” sources of phenotypic variation: transgenerational plasticity, bet hedging and epigenetic mechanisms in marine stickleback
Lisa Shama – Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany (Virtual talk)
Not available on demand
09:45 – 10:00Parental behavioural tolerance and exposure to ocean acidification influences the offspring transcriptional response in a coral reef fish
Sneha Suresh – Swire Institute of Marine Science and The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
10:00 – 10:45Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Sneha Suresh
10:45- 11:00Self-organisation of plasticity and specialisation in a primitively social insect
Adolfo Alsina – Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Portugal
11:00 – 11:15Ecological and molecular mechanisms underlying extreme growth variation
Abderrahman Khila – Institute of Functional Genomics (IGFL), France
11:15 – 11:45Epigenetic inheritance – models and mechanisms
Anne Ferguson-Smith – University of Cambridge, UK
(virtual talk)
Not available on demand
11:45 – 13:15Lunch and Meet the speakers with:
Adolfo Alsina and Abderrahman Khila
13:15 – 13:45Regulatory networks link phenotypic plasticity to evolvability
Franjo Weissing – University of Groningen, The Netherlands
13:45 – 14:00Understanding cellular decisions in latent space
Paul Francois – McGill University, Canada
14:00 – 14:15Multiple molecular events determine stochastic cell-fate switching in a eukaryotic system
Naomi Ziv – Tel Aviv University, Israel
14:15 – 15:00Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Franjo Weissing, Paul Francois and Naomi Ziv
15:00 – 16:30Session 4
15:00 – 15:30Directing RNA traffic to adjust gene expression in response to environmental challenge
Richard Roy – McGill University, Canada
Not available on demand
15:30 – 15:45The evolution of canalisation in artificial gene networks
Ata Kalirad – Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen, Germany
15:45 – 16:15Nutritional stress and plasticity in the proteome
Benjamin Tu – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA
Not available on demand
16:15 – 16:30Dynamic control of yeast cell response and survival to periodic stress by the metabolic environment
Fabien Duveau – CNRS / École normale supérieure de Lyon, France
16:30 – 18:15Poster session 2 (all posters) and Meet the speakers with: Richard Roy, Ata Kalirad, Benjamin Tu and Fabien Duveau
18:15 – 19:45Dinner
19:45 – 21:30Live jazz music and drinks in ATC Rooftop lounge
Day 4 – Saturday 29 October 2022
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
09:15 – 10:45Session 4 continued
09:15 – 09:45The interplay between metabolism and gene expression: a tale of worms and bugs
Marian Walhout – University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA
09:45 – 10:15Insights into genotype-by-environment interaction from chromosome synthesis
Ian Ehrenreich – University of Southern California, USA
10:15 – 10:45Brainstorming session
10:45 – 11:15Coffee break and Meet the speakers with:
Marian Walhout and Ian Ehrenreich
11:15 – 12:00Discussion session
12:00 – 12:15Closing remarks and poster prize
12:15Packed lunch and departure

Practical information

Registration fees and abstract submission

On-site registration fees include admission, conference materials, COVID-19 safety measures, meals and coffee breaks. Participants are expected to book and pay their own accommodation and travel expenses.

Virtual registration fees include access to all of the talks (livestreamed and on demand) and facility to submit questions.

On-site Academia€700
On-site PhD Student€600
On-site Industry€900
Virtual Academia€175
Virtual PhD Student€125
Virtual Industry€225

NO visa support letters will be issued until payment of the registration fee is confirmed.

Accredited journalists may be eligible to register for complimentary press registration. Registrants may be required to provide accreditation or equivalent proof of press membership after registration. Please contact Iva Gavran for more information. Please note that we do not offer complimentary registrations for editors of scientific journals.

Confirmation and payment

Registration will be on a first-come first-served basis. Your place can only be confirmed after payment of the registration fee. If you are added to our waiting list, please consider taking advantage of our offerings to participate virtually.

On-site participants: Types of payments accepted are international bank transfers and credit card payments.

Virtual participants: We are only able to accept card payments. In exceptional cases we can accept bank transfers. Please contact events@embl.de for details.

Abstract submission

Only registered participants attending the on-site event are eligible to submit an abstract. Abstracts will not be accepted from virtual participants.

After you have logged in and successfully registered, you will receive an email asking you to submit your abstract.  Click on the link provided and enter your abstract in the text box provided. Alternatively you can submit your abstract by clicking on the link on the confirmation page directly after registering. The same login credentials are used for both processes.

Please note:

Title: The title should not exceed 20 words. Only the first word of the title should start with a capital letter and the rest of the title should be in lowercase.

Authors and affiliations: Please fill in the author’s details as requested in the online form. The compulsory details are: First Name, Last Name, Organisation Name (Affiliation or Company), Country and Email. Mark only one author as the role of First author and please don’t forget to indicate who will be presenting. The order of the authors will be listed as follows: First Author, Co-First Author (alphabetically if multiple), co-author(s) (in the order added by the submitter).

Presentation types: When submitting your abstract, you can apply for an oral or poster presentation. A selection process will take place with the results announced 2-3 weeks after the abstract submission deadline.

Please check our FAQs pages for further information on how to submit an abstract.

Financial assistance

Limited financial assistance is provided by the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme and EMBO in the form of both registration fee waivers and travel grants. Availability is limited to participants attending on-site events in Heidelberg and will be indicated during the abstract or motivation letter submission process.

Your place in the meeting is only confirmed by paying the registration fee, which is mandatory even when receiving a fee waiver.

Registration fee waiver

The fee waiver will cover the registration sum that you have paid to attend the course or conference.

Travel grant

The travel grant will cover the cost of travel (airfare, train, bus, taxi, accommodation, visa, and/or registration fees*) and is provided up to specified caps which are normally as follows:

– up to €400 for participants travelling to an EMBL Course, EMBL Conference or EMBO|EMBL Symposium from within Europe.
– up to €1000 for participants travelling to an EMBL Course, EMBL Conference or EMBO|EMBL Symposium from outside Europe.
– up to €500 for any participant travelling to an EMBO Practical Course or EMBO Workshop.
– up to €1000 for any participant working in Chile, India, Singapore or Taiwan travelling to an EMBO Practical Course or EMBO Workshop.

*Registration fees are only covered for EMBO Practical Courses or EMBO Workshops

The organisers may reduce the grant cap to accommodate more participants. Recipients will be notified of their travel cap amount when they are informed of the outcome of their application. Original receipts must be provided with your signature for all costs incurred within two months of completion of travel. Scanned copies cannot be accepted.


You may apply for financial assistance when submitting your motivation letter for courses, and abstract for conferences. In your application you will be asked to answer questions regarding why your lab cannot fund your attendance and how your attendance will make a difference to your career. Application for financial support will not affect the outcome of your registration application.


The scientific organisers will select the recipients of all financial assistance during the motivation letter or abstract selection process. Results will be announced approximately 6-8 weeks before the event start date, however for some events this may be delayed. Selection results do not impact your admission to the meeting. Selection is based on your current work or study location, the reasons for needing financial support and the impact this event will have on your career.


Costs will be reimbursed after the meeting only once a reimbursement form and original receipts (from travel costs) have been received.

Further details

View our list of external funding opportunities and information on attending a conference as an event reporter.

For further information about financial assistance please refer to the FAQ page.

Accommodation and shuttles

Accommodation is not included in the conference registration fee.

As further changes in our events are possible due to COVID-19, you should book flights, trains and hotels with flexible options and favourable cancellation conditions.

The hotels below have rooms on hold for participants until 25 September 2022, in some cases at special rates. Please quote the booking code EES22-12 and confirm the exact price of the room with the hotel directly.

Hotel AnlageHotel ibis HeidelbergPremier Inn Heidelberg City
Hotel Bayrischer Hof ISG Hotel Staycity Aparthotel Heidelberg
B&B HotelLeonardo Hotel Heidelberg City CentreSteffi’s Hostel Heidelberg
Exzellenz Hotel & Boarding HouseMeininger HeidelbergHotel Vier Jahreszeiten Heidelberg
Hotel Holländer Hof Hotel Monpti

Conference shuttle buses

Conference shuttle buses are free of charge for participants, and depart from designated bus stops near the hotels to EMBL and back, mornings and evenings.

Download the conference bus schedule here.

The bus stops for this conference are:

  • Hotel Staycity (Speyerer Str. 7)
  • Kurfürsten-Anlage (Opposite Main Train Station)
  • Hotel Premier (Kurfürsten-Anlage 23)
  • Leonardo Hotel Heidelberg City Center (Bergheimer Str. 63)
  • Neckarmuenzplatz (Heidelberg Tourist Information)
  • Peterskirche (Bus stop)

View Conference shuttle bus stops and hotels in a larger map. Please note that not every bus stop will be used for every event.

Further details

Address: EMBL, Meyerhofstraße 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany. For further information on getting to EMBL Heidelberg visit Public Transportation to the Venue. For information about accommodation and local transportation please refer to the FAQ page.

On-site information


All meals and coffee breaks are included in the registration fee. Our catering staff will prepare a wide variety of vegetarian meals, meat and fish dishes, soups, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a variety of desserts.

Please wear your badge at all times when serving yourself.

No food or drinks are allowed in the auditorium.

Charging lockers

There are lockers available next to the stairs leading down into the Auditorium. You will find some of those equipped with sockets to charge your smartphone/tablet etc.

Electricity and charging station

In most places the electricity is 220 volts AC (50 cycles). An adaptor and a plug that fits the German socket may be needed for your appliances/laptop (i.e. American, Japanese, etc.). A USB charging station for electronic devices is available at the registration desk.

EMBL merchandise

EMBL Merchandise is available on Mon – Thu (9 am – 12 pm). If you are interested in purchasing an EMBL souvenir (products presented in the glass display in the registration area), please ask at the registration desk for more information.

Health and safety notes

Please read EMBL’s COVID-19 safety policy for on-site events.
Do not smoke in any EMBL building.
Eating and drinking is prohibited in the Auditorium and all laboratories.
Do not enter any restricted areas or the laboratories unless instructed to do so.

If first aid is required …

  • The first aid room is located next to the ATC Registration Desk (room 10- 205).
  • Dial the Emergency number 222 from any EMBL internal phone only.
  • Where is the accident? What happened? How many injured?
  • Emergency number 06221-387 7821 from mobile phones.
  • Please report all accidents to the conference officer at the registration desk.

In case of fire …

  • Press the nearest fire alarm button or the Emergency number 222 from any internal phone.
  • A loud fire alarm will go off if an evacuation is required. On hearing the alarm leave the building immediately following the escape route and fire wardens and head to one of the meeting points
  • Do not use the lifts.

Beyond first aid…

Please remember to bring your own medication, if needed, to the conference. Note that the next pharmacy is a 4-minute drive from the EMBL, but for many medications you will be required to see a doctor to get a prescription.

Ensure in advance that your medical insurance will cover you during your visit in the event that you do need to see a doctor while in Heidelberg. In any case, the EMBL Course and Conference Office will assist you to get to the pharmacy and a doctor of your choice if necessary.


Wi-Fi is available everywhere on the premises (no password required), just log on to ATC-Guest. The eduroam network (secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community) is also available.

Lost and found

‘’Lost and Found’’ are kept at the registration desk until the end of the conference.


There are lockers available on-site to store your luggage, which require a 2 EURO coin to operate. There is another luggage room on level E0, which is free to use but remains unlocked during the conference.

Nursing room

There is a nursing room available in the ATC Rooftop Lounge on level A29.


During the conference an EMBL Photographer may be taking photographs. If you would not like to appear in these, please inform the photographer or a member of the Course and Conference Office.


We can help printing your boarding passes/train ticket. Please send it to events@embl.de and collect your print-outs at the registration desk.

Room for prayer, yoga and meditation

There is a room for prayer, mediation and yoga located on level E0 behind the Auditorium. Please be respectful of other participants using the room.


A variety of activities in Heidelberg can be found on the website of Heidelberg Marketing.

Travel to and from the venue

During the event we provide conference shuttle buses to and from EMBL. In addition, there is the public bus 39A that serves the EMBL campus and taxis can be easily booked at any time. Information on the conference shuttle buses can be found on the individual event website and more detailed information on travelling to EMBL can be found on our Travel Information page.

Useful German expressions

GoodbyeAuf Wiedersehen
Good morningGuten Morgen
Good afternoonGuten Tag
Good eveningGuten Abend
Good nightGute Nacht
I’m sorryTut mir leid
Excuse me…Entschuldigen Sie
How are you?Wie geht’s?
I’m fine thanks. And you?Mir geht es gut , danke, und dir/Ihnen?
What is your nameWie heisst du? Wie heissen Sie?
My name isIch heisse
Do you speak EnglishSprechen Sie Englisch?
I don’t understandIch verstehe nicht
Please speak more slowlyKönnen Sie bitte langsamer sprechen
Thank youDanke schön
Where is the toilet?Wo ist die Toilette?
Please call me a taxiBitte rufen Sie mir ein Taxi
How do I get to….?Wie komme ich zum/zur…..?
A beer/two beers, pleaseEin Bier/zwei Bier bitte
A glass of red/white wine pleaseEin Glas Rot/Weisswein bitte
The menu, pleaseDie Speisekarte, bitte
Is there a local speciality?Gibt es eine Spezialität aus dieser Gegend?
I’m VegetarianIch bin Vegetarier
It was deliciousEs war hervorragend
The bill, pleaseDie Rechnung, bitte
I have a headacheIch habe Kopfschmerzen
I have a sore throatIch habe Halsschmerzen
My stomach hurtsIch habe Magenschmerzen
I’m allergic toIch bin allergisch gegen
I need a doctor who speaks EnglishGibt es einen Arzt, der Englisch spricht?
Virtual participation

What’s included?

  • Access to all the livestreamed talks
  • Video library of the recorded talks during and after the event
  • Facility to submit questions

Please note that only on-site participants are able to submit abstracts and participate in the poster sessions.

Event platform

We are using an event platform for this conference. More information about the platform will be shared ahead of the conference.


  • Do not broadcast the conference to unregistered participants.
  • You are encouraged to tweet and post about the event. Tweet unless the speaker specifically says otherwise, but be mindful of unpublished data. 
  • Please do not capture, transmit or redistribute data presented at the meeting.

Additional information can be found in our Code of Conduct.

Health and well-being

It is important to stay healthy and move around, especially when you are attending an event virtually. We have put together a few coffee break stretches and yoga videos in the conference platform for you to enjoy during the event.

How to ask questions

Please use the Q&A function in the event platform.

If you have any other questions, you can go to the Help Desk in the event platform. Click on ‘more’ on the top menu and click Help Desk. 

Time zone

The programme is planned based on the Europe/Berlin time zone, unless otherwise stated. Please take your time zone into consideration when planning your attendance.

Additional information

Please find additional information including FAQs, terms and conditions, COVID-19 safety policy and travelling to EMBL on our Information for Participants page.

COVID-19 related questions

COVID-19 information for on-site events at EMBL Heidelberg can be found in our COVID-19 FAQs.


Event supporter


Media partners

EMBO reports, an EMBO Press journal

International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Open Biology, a Royal Society journal


Sponsorship opportunities

We offer a variety of event sponsoring possibilities, with the flexibility to select a set sponsorship package or combine individual sponsorship options to suit your event budget. Discounts are available for companies sponsoring multiple events at EMBL Heidelberg. View other conferences, or contact sponsorship@embl.de for further information.

If you are interested in becoming a media partner of this event, please visit our media partnerships webpage.


EMBO | EMBL Symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration in the European research area. They provide scientists with a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on forward-looking topics and new developments in the life sciences.

Topics emphasise upcoming developments and the interdisciplinary nature of related fields. Jointly funded and organised by EMBO and EMBL – and complementary to their respective courses, workshops, and conference programmes – the symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration.

All symposia are held in the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC) in Heidelberg, Germany, or virtually.

Date: 26 - 29 Oct 2022

Location: EMBL Heidelberg and Virtual

Venue: EMBL Advanced Training Centre


Abstract submission: Closed

Registration (On-site): Closed

Registration (Virtual): Closed


  • Ehab Abouheif
    McGill University, Canada
    • Alexander Aulehla
      EMBL Heidelberg, Germany