Highlights from the 14th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology- The Power of the Small

Aug 28, 2012
Suzanne Kennedy

We just returned from Copenhagen, Denmark where the 14th International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME) conference took place (August 19th to 24th). It was an amazing week of outstanding non-stop science in the microbial ecology field.  With ~2100 attendees, we really enjoyed meeting so many scientists that don’t usually make the trip over to the American Society for Microbiology conference that takes place in the US in May.

Some of the highlights of the week (for me) were the Terragenome session chaired by Timothy Vogel from Ecole Centrale de Lyon, France, and David Myrold from Oregon State University, USA. It was a lively discussion centered around a 10 year plan for the international soil metagenomic community.  Speakers were the notable Janet Jansson, Jim Prosser, Pascal Simonet, and Jim Tiedje.

The most interesting and unusual presentation I attended was given by Jessica Metcalf from Rob Knight’s lab at Colorado State University.  Jesse’s talk was titled: Microbial tools for forensics: characterization of bacterial and eukaryotic communities associated with corpse decomposition using next generation sequencing, and is a National Institutes of Justice funded study to look at microbial community changes of the soil underneath a decomposing body as a way to better approximate the time of death. The model for the study used sacrificed mice left to decay in a soil plot with time points taken over the various stages of decomposition.  Perhaps a PowerCorpse kit is in our future?

The awards ceremony takes place on the last day of the ISME conference and MO BIO Labs had the distinct honor of choosing the winner for the 2012 Best Student Poster Award. We had a panel of distinguished judges: Tom Schmidt, Michigan State University, Nadia Mykytczuk, Laurentian University, Canada, Jim Prosser, University of Aberdeen, Kirsten Jorgensen, Finnish Environment Institute, and Carsten Jacobsen, GEUS, Denmark.  There were several awards for students so we conferred with the other award teams before making the final choice for Best Student Poster of ISME14.

The winner of Best Student Poster ISME14 was Rika Anderson from the University of Washington School of Oceanography and Astrobiology.  Her poster titled: Viral Manipulation of the Genetic Landscape of Hydrothermal Vent Microbial Communities is shown below (click the poster for a full sized version).

In addition to receiving this great honor on stage in front of 2000 delegates at the closing ceremonies, Rika was gifted with a beautiful glass DNA molecule trophy and a gift certificate for $500 in MO BIO products.

We want to congratulate Rika for being chosen as one of the 9 finalists out of hundreds of posters and for an outstanding body of work using molecular techniques to understand the impact of viruses on microbial communities in the deep sea.

ISME14 was an amazing experience and Copenhagen is a very beautiful city.  Start saving for ISME15 and in two years we hope to see you all again in Seoul, South Korea!

Left to right: Heather Callahan, Rika Anderson, Suzanne Kennedy, Heather Martinez, and Mark Brolaski (CEO)

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