SymBioNet is an international consortium of researchers from the United States and Europe who are interested in rapidly moving the field of Symbiosis forward. The consortium is organized as a "network-of-networks", with prominent labs serving as nodes to facilitate further in-country and local interactions.

The goal of this consortium is to answer fundamental, as yet outstanding questions in the area of microbial symbiosis.

PI and concept 

  • Shailesh Date (GV/LRC)


  • Tomas Tyml, Postdoctoral Researcher (GV/LRC & JGI)

  • Jean-Marie Volland, Fellow and Project Scientist (GV/LRC & JGI)

Current nodes and members

(to expand over 2019-20)

  • USA: Tanja Woyke (JGI), Nikos Kyrpides (JGI), Natalia Ivanova (JGI), Grant Jensen (Caltech), Shailesh Date (GV/LRC), Matthias Hess (UC Davis)

  • UK: Stuart West (Oxford)

  • Germany: Nicole Dubilier (Max Planck)

  • France: TBD

SymBioNet supported projects

  • Project 0 (bootstrap!): SymBioNet: An international research network-of-networks focussed on answering fundamental questions in microbial symbiosis 



- Catalytic phase proposal (planning) to be submitted to NSF in Jan 2020

- Letter of intent (LOI) submitted to NSF Accelnet call

  • Project 1: In search of missing complexity on the tree of life

Organismal complexity is not uniformly distributed throughout the evolutionary tree of life. While some branches have evolved into very elaborate and high-functioning forms (E.g. Humans), prokaryotes (Archaea and Bacteria) have apparently remained simple and unicellular even after 3 billion years of evolution. This apparent evolutionary conundrum has perpetuated dogmatic acceptance of the rarity of major evolutionary transitions like eukaryogenesis and development of multicellularity, while implicitly suggesting the potential for development of organismal complexity as being limited to some branches. Given recent advances in our knowledge of the structure, function and composition of microbial communities, and their ability to form a number of chemical and physical associations, we have challenged these assumptions. We have launched a new project that uses computational, theoretic and experimental methods to elucidate the extent and distribution of symbioses, with a view to understanding the steps towards transition to multicellularity. 


Participating labs: Woyke, Kyrpides, Ivanova, West & Date

Status: Proposal in review.

  • Project 2: New models for studying symbioses

Chemosynthetic symbioses, even while being ubiquitous and evolutionarily relevant, have received far less attention than heterotrophic (e.g. rumen) and photosynthetic (e.g. coral) symbioses and their research been hampered by the lack of model systems. In light of their ecological and evolutionary relevance of such associations, we are developing model systems involving bacteria that are able to form promiscuous symbioses with diverse eukaryotes as well as prokaryotes. These models will help us better understand if there are genomic and/or biochemical factors that push certain systems towards symbiotic behavior.

Participating labs: Woyke, Jensen & Date

Collaborators: Olivier Gros (Univ. des Antilles), Carolyn Larabell (Berkeley Lab)

Status: Proposal in review


LRC.SYSTEMS is a division of Global Viral