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The 40th Altenberg Workshop: Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution

In life science research, identifying biases in biological patterns and processes is crucial, yet often challenging due to the elusiveness of signatures of directionality. While genomics, phylogenetics and evolutionary palaeobiology have benefited from increasingly advanced experimental and theoretical tools, new statistical models and model systems are needed to sift meaningful signals from noise in large datasets. Concerted efforts by multidisciplinary teams working on the details of mutational processes, genomic signatures, and macroevolutionary trends will help guide future research with robust methods that identify directionality in lineages, thereby advancing our understanding of evolutionary dynamics within and across populations and lineages.

To address this challenge, the Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution workshop brought together an interdisciplinary team. Over three days, 16 researchers joined forces to develop new conceptual and methodological approaches for detecting and explaining evolutionary trends. Eleven of the participants are part of the three research groups of the "Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution" cluster, one of the seven thematic clusters articulated in the "Agency, Directionality, and Function" cohort programme funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The other participants are external collaborators of the project who act as scientific advisors to the cluster.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss the results achieved in each project within a common theoretical framework, to address transversal conceptual issues linking our cluster to other clusters of the cohort program, and to foster potential  future collaborations among the participants.

The Altenberg workshops, organized by the KLI, are interdisciplinary meetings designed for the advancement of biological theory. Leading experts in their fields are asked to invite a group of internationally recognized scientists to engage in three days of open discussion. The KLI’s intent is to catalyse new conceptual advances and research initiatives in the biosciences.