The ability to detect mechanical forces is important in the human senses of balance, hearing, and touch as well as osmotic homeostasis and detection of blood pressure. In addition, it is necessary for gravity and touch sensing in plants and osmoregulation of microbes. As we learn more about the mechanisms underlying these senses in a wide variety of organisms and systems, we have begun to see parallels and intersections. This conference explores mechanisms for perception and response to mechanical stimuli in a wide range of organisms. Participants employ a diverse set of approaches to study the responses to a broad range of mechanical signals in organisms including animals, microbes, and plants. Topics range from the molecular and cellular to complex mechanosensory systems. Examples include auditory hair cell electrophysiology, microbial mechanosensitive channel structure and function, and responses to sustained gravitational forces in plants as well as animals. The field is rapidly growing, especially in the area of genetic approaches to understanding the perception of physical stimuli. The focus for this conference has been the molecular and physiological analysis of protein and cellular components needed for different aspects of mechano- and gravity- sensation. This conference provides a unique opportunity to think broadly about the interface between mechanical signals, sensory mechanisms, and downstream signal transduction pathways. It brings together scientists who do not normally meet because they study different organisms (microbes, plants, or animals), different kinds of mechanical responses (rapid responses in specialized mechanosensors or slow responses to sustained forces in bone or plants), or because they employ widely different approaches (genetics versus physiology). The conference therefore results in inter-disciplinary transfer of ideas and approaches and for many investigators this results in new strategies for the study of mechanotransduction.
What is a GRC? Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) are 5-day meetings that bring scientists together from around the world to present and discuss unpublished research with other leaders in their field.