Here we evaluate our current understanding of the function of the nervous system in Hydra, a non‐bilaterian animal which is among the first metazoans that contain neurons. We highlight growing evidence that the nervous system, with its rich repertoire of neuropeptides, is involved in controlling resident beneficial microbes. We also review observations that indicate that microbes affect the animal's behavior by directly interfering with neuronal receptors. These findings provide new insight into the original role of the nervous system, and suggest (...) that it emerged to orchestrate multiple functions including host‐microbiome interactions. The excitement of future research in the Hydra model now relies on uncovering the common rules and principles that govern the interaction between neurons and microbes and the extent to which such laws might apply to other and more complex organisms. (shrink)
The conference explored an extraordinary diversity of aging strategies in organisms ranging from short‐lived species to “immortal” animals and plants. Research on the biological processes of aging is at the brink of a revolution with respect to our understanding of its underlying mechanisms as well as our ability to prevent and cure a wide variety of age‐related pathologies.