Started off the day with the “Microbes in Action! Dynamics of Single Cells to Communities” which included some great talks by Greg Caporaso, Sarah Cobey, Mary Lidstrom, Trina McMahon, and Jeff Gore.
The afternoon was a tough call between “Microbiology’s Next Top Model: Predicting the Future with Math and Microbes” organized by Jack Gilbert and the “Role of Microbes in Environmental Sustainability” session at the same time. After a talk by Saeed Tavozoie in the modeling session I switched over to hear more built environment talks. Tucker Burch gave an interesting talk on the fate of antibiotic resistance genes in waste-water treated soils… basically showing that existing treatment doesn’t appear to be super-effective. Paula Mouser talked about the role of microbes in shale energy development which is something I haven’t heard much about. James Meadow gave his usual interesting talking on the microbiology of the built environment (James is at the BioBE Center) and showed some new data from experiments where they put people into sterile boxes and measure their “microbial cloud”. This was followed by talks on metagenomics of oiled beaches, the NEON project, and the Mississippi River.
Started off the day with a session of relevance to the built environment, but something that I think isn’t talked about enough, this was the session on food microbiology called “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Food Microbiology in the Omics Age”. Say a nice series of talks by Thaddeus Stanton, Lee-ann Jaykus, Bart Weimer, Martin Weidmann, and James Steele. I would say the major take home messages were the following:
Huge volumes of livestock antibiotics are probably a bad idea
Norovirus is an awesome pathogen (conceptually, not if you actually have it, in which case it’s no fun at all)
Omics approaches can really help regulators and scientists better control food safety issues.
I went from there straight to the Late Breaking Session on “Pandemic Threats from Emerging Avian Influenza Viruses (H7N9 and H5N1): Challenges for Public Health, Research, Surveillance and Countermeasures”. I would classify this just like the Soviet Bioweapons session from the first day… both fascinating and scary. The speakers all seemed to be big names in the field (Robert Webster, Albert Osterhaus, Carol Heilman, Stephen Redd). I felt like I was in a Richard Preston novel when Stephen Redd (CDC/ICU) stood up there in full military uniform describing the current outbreak of H7N9 that’s going on in Eastern China.
Had to watch a citizen science collaborator of ours drawing his poster by hand at the poster session. Here’s a little video that Jonathan put together.
Last up was the session organized by Holly Bik in the lab called “Phylogenomics and Microbial Species Concepts”. Sadly I could only attend the first three talks but was happy to be able to make that. Kosta Konstantinidis presented evidence for the species concept in bacteria, Carlonia Gonzalez talked about psychrotolerant acidophiles, and Cameron Thrash talked about a SAR11 Bathytype.
Great meeting, great people. Would do again. Now off to the Sloan Microbiology of the Build Environment Conference!