There is an increasing awareness that participatory processes should take place at an early phase of science and technology developments. However, involving the relevant publics at an early phase is challenging as concrete applications are absent and societal attention is rather weak. In this paper we reflect on a participatory process that aimed to facilitate groups of potential future users to reflect on developments in the emerging scientific field of ecological genomics. We explicate how we defined relevant publics, recruited participants, and facilitated them to reflect on technologies which did not yet exist. The results show different ways of framing developments in ecological genomics, and provide crucial contextualization for involving a broader range of publics and organizing a frame-reflective dialogue as a next step. © Beech Tree Publishing 2010.