Conference Microbial Secondary Metabolites in Microbiomes 2019

Wednesday 17 Jul 19
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Contact

Lone Gram
Professor
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 25 86

Contact

Dario Vazquez Albacete
Center Coordinator
DTU Bioengineering
+45 24 65 57 71
In June 2019, CeMiSt organized an international conference on Microbial Secondary Metabolites in Microbiomes 2019. The conference took place over two days and included several invited talks, 12 short selected talks by younger scientists and a poster session The conference was very successful with several highlights

In June 2019, CeMiSt organized an international conference on Microbial Secondary Metabolites in Microbiomes 2019. The conference took place over two days and included several invited talks, 12 short selected talks by younger scientists and a poster session The conference was very successful with several highlights:

1.    The multidisciplinary angle of the conference with international top scientists in each field
2.    A unique combination of expertise around a very specific topic: microbial secondary metabolites
3.    A limited number of participants (approx. 80) facilitating interactions especially between senior and young scientists
4.    A social relaxed and supportive atmosphere – helped by beautiful summer weather, nice location, good food and drinks.

The conference had four themes: 1) the question on the natural role of microbial secondary metabolites, 2) using gene sequencing to analyze diversity and functionality, 3) chemically detecting microbial secondary metabolites, and 4) development and evolution of model microbial communities.
Professor Francecs Godia, head of the European Space Agency MELISSA project opened with a talk on how to construct a full biological ecosystem (in space). Whilst this could seem distant from microbial metabolites, it clearly has parallels when it comes to model re-construction and how to study interactions in biological systems bringing engineering constraints into play.
The question “What is the role of microbial secondary metabolites?” was tackled from different angles during the conference. One approach is to study the role in the producer and genetically edit or delete this function to observe the effects on its phenotype. Secondary metabolites may be antibiotic at high concentrations and serve as signals or nutrients at lower concentrations; thus a window of concentrations should be included.

During the session dedicated to chemical detection of secondary metabolites, several groups of secondary metabolites, including RiPPs, were discussed. It was pointed out that many secondary metabolite previously thought to be derived from larger organisms are in fact produced by associated microorganisms. With the latest technologies in in situ chemical detection (MALDI imaging), the physical location of chemicals can be mapped and superimpose on identity (using FISH staining) allowing the link between production of a chemical and a specific species in spatial resolution.
Several talks were presenting work on how to recreate and study natural or synthetic microbial communities. A reductionist (simple) approach is often useful and a lot can be learned by studying interactions between two microbes at a time. Several approaches for isolating organisms for synthetic communitites and for evaluating their representation were presented. It is important to dissect the diversity (sequence based) and functionality of microorganisms in the particular ecosystem under study before recreating these synthetic communities.

The conference took place in Konventum in Helsingør (Denmark) with superb views to the Øresund stretch between Denmark and Sweden. We thank all the participants for coming and showing so much engagement during the conference, and the DNRF for their generous support.

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