We had an amazing week at the International Symbiosis Society (ISS) conference in Lisbon, Portugal!

Each day featured non-stop learning about different symbiotic partnerships, with posters and presentations from a broad range of scientists – such as chemists, microbiologists, entomologists, botanists, zoologists, and more.

While we’re still quite new to the ISS, we think this is a great strength to the society…especially as so few scientific disciplines look outside of their specific niches these days!

Highlights definitely had to include:

  • the plenary lecture by Dorion Sagan about Sex and Aging (son of Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis)
  • both Marc-Andrè Selosse’s lecture on Symbiotic interdependencies and his dancing
  • the plant holobiont session chaired by Karin Pritsch and Thorsten Grams (featuring the brilliant Viviane Radl)
  • the plenary lecture by Jan Sapp about the controversial histories of symbiosis and evolution
  • learning about LOTS of new symbiotic systems – such as the solar powered sea slug (Elysia) and the Azolla water fern!

The Teaching Symbiosis session – which we co-chaired – closed off the conference on the Friday afternoon. The event went amazingly, with between 150-200 people looking through microscopes at live symbiotic models, discussing research, and Gregory read The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon to a small class group of Portugese school children (with some help from a translator).

Most importantly for our Small Friends Book series – we talked to dozens of enthusiastic scientists about potentially creating new storybooks about their pet research topics…stay tuned for future directions!



The conference papers have been published in the journal Symbiosis.

Here’s a link to download our article: Stories-of-Symbiosis_Crocetti-Barr-2015.