The cellular mechanics of symbiosis – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

The cellular mechanics of symbiosis


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.

Symposium overview

Host-microbe interactions can be positive or negative for both a host organism and its symbiotic microbes. Interacting with microbes can allow eukaryotes to acquire crucial functions, like nutrient production, but interactions can also be pathogenic in nature. This cross-disciplinary meeting will bring together scientists using cellular, molecular, ecological, physiological, and theory-based approaches to explore the evolution of intimate species-species interactions. Our aim is to understand the cellular systems and pathways that drive transitions in symbiotic states, for example, as partnerships move from pathogenesis to beneficial and back again.

Session topics

  • Partners in conflict: immunity and pathogenesis in symbiosis
  • Partners in less conflict: how are symbionts harnessed for benefit
  • Living in, on, and around others: when is a symbiosis a symbiosis?
  • Shared lessons across systems: commonalities in symbiosis


Amy Buck

University of Edinburgh

United Kingdom

Annika Guse

Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich


Kayla King

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

(Virtual Speaker)

Maria Mota

Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Biomedical Institute


Scientific Organizers

Toby Kiers

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The Netherlands

Conference Organizer

Preliminary programme

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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 8 March 2023
11:30-13:00Registration & Light Refreshments
13:00-13:15Opening remarks
Session 1: Partners in conflict: immunity and pathogenesis in symbiosis
13:15-13:40Host-Plasmodium interaction: a tale of symbiosis and pathogenesis
Maria Mota – Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Biomedical Institute, Portugal
13:40-13:55Selected 1
13:55-14:10Selected 2
14:10-14:35Cross-kingdom RNA trafficking between plants and fungal pathogens
Hailing Jin – University of California, Riverside, USA
14:35-15:20Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
Session 1: Partners in conflict: immunity and pathogenesis in symbiosis (Continued)
17:20-17:45RNA in communication: new insights into host-helminth interactions in the gut
Amy Buck – University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
17:45-18:00Selected 3
18:00-18:15Selected 4
18:15-18:40Partners in crime – Controlling algal blooms by mutualism and pathogenicity of viruses and bacteria
Assaf Vardi – Weizman Institute of Science, Israel
18:40-19:05Turning pathogens into cell-biology tools
Shaeri Mukherjee – University of California, San Francisco, USA
20:35-21:35Networking drinks
Day 2 – Thursday 9 March 2023
08:30-09:15Arrival & Coffee
Session 2: Partners in less conflict: how are symbionts harnessed for benefit
09:15-09:40Adaptation to the environment by symbiosis – a model systems’ approach
Annika Guse – Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany
09:40-09:55Selected 5
09:55-10:10Selected 6
10:10-10:35The ecology, evolution and metabolic mechanisms of a microbial symbiosis
Michael Brockhurst – University of Manchester, United Kingdom
10:35-11:20Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
Session 2: Partners in less conflict: how are symbionts harnessed for benefit (Continued)
11:20-11:45Microbial symbionts as sources of evolutionary innovations in beetles
Martin Kaltenpoth – Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany
11:45-12:00Selected 7
12:00-12:15Selected 8
Session 2: Partners in less conflict: how are symbionts harnessed for benefit (Continued)
13:45-14:10Host immune priming by symbionts favours more virulent pathogens
Kayla King – University of Oxford, United Kingdom
14:10-14:10Selected 9
14:25-14:40Selected 10
14:25-15:10Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
14:40-15:10Flash talks
15:10-16:50Poster Session 1 (odd) with beer and snacks
Free evening
Day 3 – Friday 10 March 2023
08:30-09:15Arrival & Coffee
Session 3: Living in, on, and around others: when is a symbiosis a symbiosis?
09:15-09:40The pathogen-mutualist interface in insect symbioses
Nancy Moran – University of Texas at Austin, USA
09:40-09:55Selected 11
09:55-10:10Selected 12
10:10-10:55Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
Session 3: Living in, on, and around others: when is a symbiosis a symbiosis? (continued)
10:55-11:20The Ins and Outs of Beneficial Associations between Marine Invertebrates and their Chemosynthetic Symbionts
Nicole Dubilier – Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany
11:20-11:35Selected 13
11:35-11:50Selected 14
11:50-12:15Do we really know what lichen symbionts get from each other?
Toby Spribille – University of Alberta, Canada
Session 3: Living in, on, and around others: when is a symbiosis a symbiosis? (continued)
13:45-14:10The role of fungal innate immunity in symbioses between fungi and bacteria
Teresa Pawlowska – Cornell University, USA
14:10-14:25Selected 15
14:25-14:40Selected 16
14:40-15:25Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
Session 3: Living in, on, and around others: when is a symbiosis a symbiosis? (continued)
Victoria Orphan – California Institute of Technology, USA
15:50-16:05Selected 17
16:05-16:20Selected 18
16:20-16:50Flash talks
16:50-18:30Poster Session 2 (even) with beer and snacks
18:30-20:00Conference dinner
20:00-23:00Social event (TBC)
Day 4 – Saturday 11 March 2023
08:30-09:15Arrival & Coffee
Session 4: Shared lessons across systems: commonalities in symbiosis
09:15-09:40400 Million Years of Symbiosis Between Marine Lucinid Clams and Their Intracellular Sulfur-Oxidizing Symbionts
Jillian Petersen – University of Vienna, Austria
09:40-09:55Selected 19
09:55-10:10Selected 20
10:10-10:55Coffee Break & Meet the speakers
Session 4: Shared lessons across systems: commonalities in symbiosis (continued)
10:55-11:20Mutual bacterial-fungal relationship; Fungal highways let bacteria travel in exchange for thiamine
Norio Takeshita – University of Tsukuba, Japan
11:20-11:35Selected 21
11:35-11:50Selected 22
Patrick Keeling – University of British Columbia, Canada
12:15-12:30Closing Remarks & Poster Prize
Packed 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 Lina Nikolajeva 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 participants registering to attend the on-site event are eligible to submit an abstract. Abstracts will not be accepted from virtual participants.

After registration you can submit your abstract via a separate link that will be provided in the email confirmation. Alternatively, you can access the link on the confirmation page directly after registering. The same login credentials are used for both processes.

Please note:

Abstract body: The limit of 2000 characters refers to manually typed text and excludes spaces. If an error occurs try using a different web browser (preferably Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox).

If you copy-paste the text into the form, hidden formatting might still be included which may cause the text to exceed the 2,000 character limit resulting in an error message. We recommend you clear all formatting before pasting in the text.

If you have special symbols in your text, make sure you are using Unicode characters, otherwise these will not be recognised.

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

Authors and affiliations: Please fill in the author’s details as requested in the online form. The compulsory fields are: First Name, Last Name, Organisation Name (Affiliation or Company), Country and Email.

Kindly mark only one author in the role of First Author and please don’t forget to indicate who will be the Presenter.

Please enter your co-authors correctly via the system by adding accounts together with their organisation/institute. Do not copy-paste them into the body of the abstract text, as they will not be indexed in the abstract book.

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.

For detailed instructions on how to submit a conference abstract, follow the instructions provided in this video.

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

Financial assistance

Financial assistance

Limited financial assistance is provided by the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme, EMBO, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in the form of both registration fee waivers and travel grants. Availability of travel grants is limited to participants attending on-site events in Heidelberg and will be indicated during the abstract submission process. Both on-site and virtual participants can apply for registration fee waivers.

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 7 February 2023, in some cases at special rates. Please quote the booking code EES23-01 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 Meininger 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.

The bus stops for this conference are:

  • Kurfürsten-Anlage (Opposite Main Train Station)
  • Hotel Premier, Kurfürsten-Anlage 23
  • Leonardo Hotel (Bergheimer Str.)
  • Neckarmuenzplatz
  • Peterskirche
  • ISG Hotel

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

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 gehts?
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 youDankeschön
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:


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.


EMBL wishes to warn sponsors of EMBL conferences and courses of fraudulent schemes purporting to offer sponsorship opportunities on behalf of EMBL or affiliated with EMBL officials. One current scam campaign of which we are aware is conducted using the name ‘Judy Eastman’ (judy@gopcontact.a2hosted.com) and entails approaches to sponsors offering sponsorship opportunities on EMBL’s behalf. Please be kindly advised that all relevant communication regarding sponsorship of EMBL conferences, symposia and courses is handled by EMBL directly and is sent from an official EMBL account. EMBL does not work with any external providers on sponsorship acquisition.

Please also note that:

  • EMBL never provides attendee lists for purchase. Any offers of such are fraudulent.
  • EMBL will never call or email you to ask for your credit card details or to request a payment.
  • All payments are on invoice.

Suspicious communications purportedly from, for or on behalf of EMBL should be reported to EMBL at the following email address sponsorship@embl.de.


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.

Media kit

Want to let others know you’re attending this event? Take a look at our shareable media and feel free to use them in your social media channels or presentations.

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Date: 8 - 11 Mar 2023

Location: EMBL Heidelberg and Virtual

Venue: EMBL Advanced Training Centre


Abstract submission: 14 Dec 2022

Registration (On-site): 25 Jan 2023

Registration (Virtual): 1 Mar 2023


  • Toby Kiers
    VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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