World's top microbe experts gather in Halifax

    "Tree of Life" project a window into massive, invisible microbial world

    HALIFAX, July 14 /CNW/ - This weekend, the Canadian Institute for
Advanced Research (CIFAR) and the Tula Foundation will host a bustling
collaboration zone for microbe experts. More than 50 leading researchers from
Japan, Scotland, Switzerland, Australia, France, the Czech Republic, Russia
and across Canada, will descend on this east coast city to make a major leap
forward on a scientific project dubbed "The Tree of Life."
    "The Tree of Life project is poised to transform the foundations for
understanding many important classes of life," says Patrick Keeling, the
director of CIFAR's program on Integrated Microbial Biodiversity and one of
the main scientific organizers of the workshop. "The microbes we're focusing
on in Halifax may be small, but they are one of the most powerful forces on
the planet."
    The Tree of Life is a massive, publicly accessible web-based repository
for all scientific knowledge about the diversity, evolutionary history and
characteristics of every species and significant group of organisms on Earth,
living and extinct. This incredible wealth of authoritative information,
contributed by an unprecedented alliance of world experts, is designed to
create a grand understanding of all life on the planet.
    The Halifax workshop focuses specifically on complex microbial organisms
called "protists." While this scientific name may be unknown to many people,
these creatures play key roles in biological growth and decay, health and
sickness, and ecosystem maintenance and destruction.
    "Halifax is the ideal setting for this workshop," said Alastair Simpson,
a CIFAR program member who studies protists at Dalhousie University.
"Dalhousie is home to an internationally recognized community of leaders in
this vital area of research."

    What: Tree of Life workshop
    Who: Canada and the world's leading microbe experts
    Where: Lord Nelson Hotel, 1515 South Park Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
    When: July 19th, 2008

    For more information:                For high resolution images:    

For further information:

For further information: For interviews with researchers and other media
requests, contact: Alison Palmer, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research,
(416) 971-4891 office, (647) 801-0265 cell,,

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