Tandem repeats: methods and roles in molecular evolution

Tandem repeats (TRs) are adjacent repetitive stretches of genomic DNA, found in abundance across all kingdoms of life. TRs provide a rich source of variation in populations, hence a perfect playground for natural selection forces. Especially, shorter TRs are known for their orders of magnitude higher mutation rates compared to SNPs and indels. TR-suitable methods and resources are emerging one after the other allowing accurate TR annotation and genotyping integrated in existing genomic pipeline workflows. Analysis of TR variation in populations and over longer evolutionary time suggest STRs as a major contributor to complex traits heritability with major impact on protein function and expression. This symposium will focus on the typing approaches, evolution and functional analysis of these highly polymorphic elements. We aim to bring together both researchers who develop and apply methods for accurate STR genotyping, and identification of STRs relevant for phenotypic evolution, and recent adaptations. This way, the symposium will facilitate interactions between researchers from different backgrounds and promote interdisciplinary study of the STRs, an emerging major source of phenotypic variation. Therefore, we expect this symposium to be of interest to a broad range of researchers in the fields of bioinformatics, population genomics and evolutionary biology.

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