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Workshop Outline

A census of ribosomal RNA technology  ...

Thirty years have passed since Carl Woese proposed three primary domains of life based on the phylogenetic analysis of the ribosomal RNA genes. Despite ongoing discussions about the validity of the concept, the introduction of ribosomal RNA as a universal molecular marker has transformed microbiology to its roots. Adopted by researchers worldwide, ribosomal RNA has become the “gold-standard” for molecular taxonomy, biodiversity analysis and the identification of microorganisms. The more than 500,000 rRNA sequences in public databases constitute an unprecedented hallmark of the richness of microbial biodiversity on earth. Nevertheless, from ongoing genomic and metagenomic studies, we may still be seeing only the tip of the iceberg so far.

It is now time to summarize the current status of the field, and think about how to best proceed with this rich harvest from a technological and biological point of view. Central points that will be addressed by the workshop include:


  • What kind of technology is needed to help biologists deal with the deluge of data?
  • What kinds and quality of emerging data need to be organized, stored and analysed?
  • How can rRNA help to answer burning questions in biology?


To address these issues about 20 invited experts from Europe and the US will talk and discuss current topics in rRNA technology.

The workshop is intended to cross disciplinary boundaries by bringing together computer scientists, bioinformaticians, geologists, statisticians and biologists to uncover new technological approaches that will help to answer the big questions: “Who is out there?” “How many of them are there” and “What are they doing?”.

Sessions & Chairs

Databases & Phylogeny

The session will provide an overview about the status and future developments of ribosomal RNA databases and software tools for phylogenetic analysis.

Chair: Wolfgang Ludwig and Frank Oliver Glöckner

Data analysis & Biogeography

The session will give an overview about current aspects in analysing the spatio-temporal and environmental conditions triggering the distribution of microorganisms.

Chair: Alban Ramette


The session will give insights into recent developments in rRNA technology, oligonucleotide synthesis, image analysis and FISH.

Chair: Jörg Peplies 

Diversity & Ecology
The session is intended to show and discuss current aspects in taxonomy, biodiversity and ecology research.

Chair: Bernhard Fuchs and Linda Amaral-Zettler



Workshop Reports

The workshop proceedings paper can be found here

The workshop handout can be found here

The online program can be found here

The Speakers

Timeline of the 'Landmarks in rRNA Technology'

plus a collection of the current standard tools in rRNA technology

Organisation committee

Frank Oliver Glöckner (Opens external link in new window MPI-Bremen)

Linda Amaral-Zettler (Opens external link in new window ICoMM)

Wolfgang Ludwig (Opens external link in new window TUM)

Jörg Peplies (Opens external link in new window Ribocon)

Bernhard Fuchs (Opens external link in new window MPI-Bremen)

Alban Ramette (Opens external link in new window MPI-Bremen)

Logo and Timeline by David Todd