Expert on the Invisible Microbes Around Us to Speak at La Casona
By Robert Lerner
The micro-world made its human debut in 1672 when a Dutchman named Leeuwenhoek peered at a drop of pond water through his primitive microscope and dubbed the amazing tiny moving critters he saw as “animalcules.” Today we know them as microbes, but our progress in understanding them has been limited to the few that could be cultured on a petri dish. We’ve known all along that there was more to learn, but how?
On November 20, as part of the i3 speaker series, evolutionary biologist Rob Dunn, will explain the microscopic life around us at La Casona event center.
Ever since the completion of the Human Genome Project—the decade-long, multibillion-dollar moonshot mission to map human DNA—many people have had their genes sequenced by companies like 23andMe, Ancestry, Helix, and others with little idea of the biological revolution being unleashed by the technology needed to determine their genetic profiles.
Thanks to the groundbreaking project, biologists can now identify microbes based solely on DNA, without resorting to petri dishes. As a result, we’ve discovered microbial life everywhere we’ve looked, from caustic hydrothermal vents to lakes buried deep beneath Antarctic ice. Microbial life is far more diverse, abundant, and stranger than ever imagined.
Dunn turns his curiosity onto the places where we live. Our homes may be one of the most novel and diverse habitats on the planet: this includes showerheads and toilets, doormats and pillows, freezers and stovetops, cats and dogs, cleaning products and bathtub rings—plus all manner of manmade materials and imported foodstuffs. We share our homes with hundreds of thousands of species, a large proportion of which are unnamed and previously unknown to science.
Come learn the life stories of parasites stranger than can be imagined at 5pm at La Casona. Learn how the ecology of critters living right under our noses may hold clues to medical or industrial breakthroughs. Along the way, Dunn will highlight a class of humans, called chefs, who have domesticated a fraction of this micro world for our gustatory pleasure—although you may be left wondering exactly who domesticated whom!
Dunn heads up the Dunn Lab Group at North Carolina State University and is an affiliate of the Danish Natural History Museum. With his lab mates and colleagues around the world, Dunn studies the biology of critters living in our midst—about which we know surprisingly little. He is the author of several popular science books, including most recently, Never Home Alone: The Natural History of Where We Live.
La Casona is located at Josefina Orozco 2, across from Luna de Queso restaurant. Tickets are available either online at i3sma.org for 250 pesos or for 300 pesos in person at Boleto City, located at Mercado Sano, or at the door.
i3: Ideas That Inform and Inspire
Conversations with Big Thinkers presents:
“Unseen Life: In Us, on Us, and All Around Us”
Wed, Nov 20, 5pm
La Casona Event Center
Josefina Orozco 2 (across from Luna de Queso).
250 pesos online at i3sma.org
Or at Boleto City at Mercado Sano
300 pesos at the door