Register here

Overview

Given the complex and changing nature of the pandemic, the Council of the Microbiology Society, supported by our Scientific Conferences Committee, recently made the decision to transition our planned Annual Conference in Birmingham in 2021 to an online event.

The event has been designed as a digital version of the Society’s flagship annual meeting whose symposia and activities are designed to achieve the same scientific and networking objectives.

Annual Conference Online 2021 takes place over five days and consists of symposia, workshops, forums, offered oral presentations and Prize Lectures from eminent microbiologists. It is being produced to offer ample opportunities for formal and informal online networking for both early career and established microbiologists.

Joining Instructions will be sent to registered delegates on Monday 19 April 2021 with further information about accessing the online platform.

The Scientific Conferences Panel has now finalised the sessions across the week. Confirmed sessions include:

Symposia
  • Bacterial metabolites as modulators of host physiology
  • Microbial biotechnology
  • Marine microbiology – from the ocean to the lab and beyond
  • Exploring the eukaryotic tree of life
  • AMR
  • The secret life of mobile genetic elements
  • Phage biology
  • Public health microbiology
Virus Workshops
  • SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: molecular virology and immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: clinical and translational
  • Visualising viruses
  • RNA viruses
  • DNA viruses
Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Fora
  • Environmental and applied microbiology
  • Genetics and genomics
  • Infection
  • Microbial physiology, metabolism and molecular biology
Microbiology Society Professional Development
  • Careers in microbiology
  • Essential skills: entrepreneurship
  • Essential skills: how to secure a fellowship
  • Teaching microbiology in higher education
  • ECM career workshop: coping with the pandemic
Microbiology Society Policy
  • The impact of the UK-EU deal on scientific research and innovation
Microbiology Society Publishing
  • Open research platform

Programme

Type

Session

Session View

Monday 26 April, Morning

AMR

The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” Since Alexander Fleming's prophetic warning in 1945, antimicrobial resistance has rapidly developed into a critically important global health threat. How bad is AMR, and what can we do about it? This session will start by looking the global scale of the AMR problem, then delve into the causes of AMR, and finally address some of the potential solutions. The session aims to bring together scientists with interests in AMR, across the fields of epidemiology, global public health, mechanisms of AMR development and spread, antimicrobial stewardship and discovery of novel therapeutics.

Organisers

Jody Winter (Nottingham Trent University, UK); Meera Unnikrishnan (Warwick University, UK); Jennifer Ritchie (University of Surrey, UK)

Microbial physiology, metabolism and molecular biology

This forum will consider offered papers on all aspects of microbial (prokaryotic and eukaryotic) metabolism and physiology, including fundamental research on the biochemistry and structure of cells, cell growth and division, cell architecture and differentiation, synthesis and transport of macromolecules, ions and small molecules and the cell cycle; but also on the role of physiology in microbial engineering, signalling and communication, sensing and cellular responses, the molecular mechanisms behind these phenomena and their potential applications.

Organisers

Gillian Fraser (University of Cambridge, UK); Martin Welch (University of Cambridge, UK); Delma Childers (University of Aberdeen), UK)

Virus workshop: SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: molecular virology and immunology

Since emerging from the city of Wuhan, Hubei province in China towards the end of 2019, SARS-CoV2 has caused more than 67 million confirmed cases, over 1.5 million recorded deaths, profound morbidity and severe socio-economic damage, disproportionately affecting those least well off in society. Huge research effort and investment has underpinned advances in the understanding of SARS-CoV2, with tens of thousands of studies published or pre-printed in less than a year. This workshop will focus upon the molecular virology concerned with the virus life cycle, its interactions with the host cell, the innate and adaptive immune responses elicited, and how the virus strives to evade them. We will also cover abstracts relating to lab-based antiviral or other therapeutic work, as well as the development of culture systems emulating the in vivo scenario.

Organisers

Steve Griffin (University of Leeds, UK); Elly Gaunt (University of Edinburgh, UK); Gerald Barry (University College Dublin, Ireland); Sam Wilson (University of Glasgow, UK)

Careers in microbiology

Sarah Blackford will present an interactive workshop focused on career planning and guidance. The session will also offer an opportunity to hear about careers in microbiology from a variety of microbiologists working in different organisations in addition to academia. Those working in areas such as industry, clinical settings, and academia will present skills needed, career prospects and opportunities and specific information related to the role.

Organisers

Rachel Asiedu (Microbiology Society, UK)

Monday 26 April, Afternoon

AMR

The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” Since Alexander Fleming's prophetic warning in 1945, antimicrobial resistance has rapidly developed into a critically important global health threat. How bad is AMR, and what can we do about it? This session will start by looking the global scale of the AMR problem, then delve into the causes of AMR, and finally address some of the potential solutions. The session aims to bring together scientists with interests in AMR, across the fields of epidemiology, global public health, mechanisms of AMR development and spread, antimicrobial stewardship and discovery of novel therapeutics.

Organisers

Jody Winter (Nottingham Trent University, UK); Meera Unnikrishnan (Warwick University, UK); Jennifer Ritchie (University of Surrey, UK)

Careers in microbiology

Sarah Blackford will present an interactive workshop focused on career planning and guidance. The session will also offer an opportunity to hear about careers in microbiology from a variety of microbiologists working in different organisations in addition to academia. Those working in areas such as industry, clinical settings, and academia will present skills needed, career prospects and opportunities and specific information related to the role.

Organisers

Rachel Asiedu (Microbiology Society, UK)

Environmental and applied microbiology

This forum includes offered papers on any area and any organism relevant to environmental, ecological, applied and industrial microbiology, including (non-human) host–microbe communities and interactions, marine and freshwater microbiology, soil and geomicrobiology, air-, cryo- and extremophile microbiology, climate change, biotechnology, bio-processing and bio-engineering, food microbiology, and other applied and industrial microbial processes, including microbe-mediated biodegradation and bioremediation.

Organisers

Christine Edwards (Robert Gordon University, UK); Michael Cunliffe (Marine Biological Association, UK); Kate Duncan (University of Strathclyde, UK); James McDonald (Bangor University, UK)

Virus workshop: SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: molecular virology and immunology

Since emerging from the city of Wuhan, Hubei province in China towards the end of 2019, SARS-CoV2 has caused more than 67 million confirmed cases, over 1.5 million recorded deaths, profound morbidity and severe socio-economic damage, disproportionately affecting those least well off in society. Huge research effort and investment has underpinned advances in the understanding of SARS-CoV2, with tens of thousands of studies published or pre-printed in less than a year. This workshop will focus upon the molecular virology concerned with the virus life cycle, its interactions with the host cell, the innate and adaptive immune responses elicited, and how the virus strives to evade them. We will also cover abstracts relating to lab-based antiviral or other therapeutic work, as well as the development of culture systems emulating the in vivo scenario.

Organisers

Steve Griffin (University of Leeds, UK); Elly Gaunt (University of Edinburgh, UK); Gerald Barry (University College Dublin, Ireland); Sam Wilson (University of Glasgow, UK)

Tuesday 27 April, Morning

Essential skills: how to secure a fellowship

Funding advisors will provide participants with greater clarity around fellowship strategies and application processes. Attendees will learn how to find the best fellowships for them and will learn from those who have recently been awarded fellowships. Those wishing to gain personal one-to-one feedback and advise from experts are welcome sign up to attend an allocated time slot during the application surgery. Early and mid-career researchers wanting to explore fellowship application processes are encouraged to attend.

Organisers

Daniela Barillà (University of York, UK);

Marine microbiology - from the ocean to the lab and beyond

Microbial life dominates the marine environment. Collectively their biomass greatly exceeds that of all other life forms in the oceans. Marine microbes have thrived in the world’s seas for billions of years and their diversity outweighs all non-microbial marine life combined. Microbes make the oceans work. They form and sustain global biogeochemical cycles, underpin food webs and maintain (or sometimes perturb) ecosystem health. Marine microbes are also a valuable source of biomolecules and enzymes, with great biotechnological potential. The session will bring together microbiologists from a range of fields with a collective interest in Marine Microbiology. The session will broadly cover three overarching themes; ‘marine microbial biogeochemistry’, ‘microbial symbiosis and interaction’, and ‘harnessing the potential of marine microbes’. As well as presentations from established research leaders in the field, the session will also showcase early career researchers.

Organisers

Michael Cunliffe (Marine Biological Association & University of Plymouth, UK); Katherine Duncan (University of Strathclyde, UK); James McDonald (Bangor University, UK); Katherine Helliwell (Marine Biological Association & University of Exeter, UK)

Virus workshop: SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: clinical and translational

This session will cover identification and advances in drugs and vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2, as well as the clinical care of individuals with COVID-19 and epidemiological studies of the virus. There has been remarkable progress made in a matter of months with the discovery of effective interventions to minimise the public health impact of the virus. Depending on the submitted abstracts, we aim to cover all aspects of applied drug and vaccine research, ranging from preclinical models and first-in-man studies through to the outcome of larger clinical trials. For abstracts relating to the clinical care and epidemiology of COVID-19, we plan to cover how treatment of infected individuals has evolved since the start of 2020 and how a combination of classical and molecular epidemiological approaches have provided a good understanding of transmission dynamics and helped inform public health intervention strategies.

Organisers

Edward Wright (University of Sussex, UK); Tamyo Mbisa (PHE, UK); Stephen Winchester (Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UK); Andrew Bosworth (PHE, UK)

Tuesday 27 April, Afternoon

Essential skills: how to secure a fellowship

Funding advisors will provide participants with greater clarity around fellowship strategies and application processes. Attendees will learn how to find the best fellowships for them and will learn from those who have recently been awarded fellowships. Those wishing to gain personal one-to-one feedback and advise from experts are welcome sign up to attend an allocated time slot during the application surgery. Early and mid-career researchers wanting to explore fellowship application processes are encouraged to attend.

Organisers

Daniela Barillà (University of York, UK);

Genetics and genomics

The Genetics and Genomics Forum will consider offered papers on all aspects of the genes and genomes of microbes (prokaryotes and eukaryotes) and their mobile elements, including their sequencing, transcription, translation, regulation, chromosome dynamics, gene transfer, population genetics and evolution, taxonomy and systematics, comparative genomics, metagenomics, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology.

Organisers

Andrew Preston (University of Bath, UK); Sarah Maddocks (Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK)

Marine microbiology - from the ocean to the lab and beyond

Microbial life dominates the marine environment. Collectively their biomass greatly exceeds that of all other life forms in the oceans. Marine microbes have thrived in the world’s seas for billions of years and their diversity outweighs all non-microbial marine life combined. Microbes make the oceans work. They form and sustain global biogeochemical cycles, underpin food webs and maintain (or sometimes perturb) ecosystem health. Marine microbes are also a valuable source of biomolecules and enzymes, with great biotechnological potential. The session will bring together microbiologists from a range of fields with a collective interest in Marine Microbiology. The session will broadly cover three overarching themes; ‘marine microbial biogeochemistry’, ‘microbial symbiosis and interaction’, and ‘harnessing the potential of marine microbes’. As well as presentations from established research leaders in the field, the session will also showcase early career researchers.

Organisers

Michael Cunliffe (Marine Biological Association & University of Plymouth, UK); Katherine Duncan (University of Strathclyde, UK); James McDonald (Bangor University, UK); Katherine Helliwell (Marine Biological Association & University of Exeter, UK)

Virus workshop: SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic: clinical and translational

This session will cover identification and advances in drugs and vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2, as well as the clinical care of individuals with COVID-19 and epidemiological studies of the virus. There has been remarkable progress made in a matter of months with the discovery of effective interventions to minimise the public health impact of the virus. Depending on the submitted abstracts, we aim to cover all aspects of applied drug and vaccine research, ranging from preclinical models and first-in-man studies through to the outcome of larger clinical trials. For abstracts relating to the clinical care and epidemiology of COVID-19, we plan to cover how treatment of infected individuals has evolved since the start of 2020 and how a combination of classical and molecular epidemiological approaches have provided a good understanding of transmission dynamics and helped inform public health intervention strategies.

Organisers

Edward Wright (University of Sussex, UK); Tamyo Mbisa (PHE, UK); Stephen Winchester (Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UK); Andrew Bosworth (PHE, UK)

Wednesday 28 April, Morning

Bacterial metabolites as modulators of host physiology

Microbes are versatile metabolic factories that have the potential to produce a wide range of metabolites, including small bioactive compounds. Many microbes also have specific symbiotic interactions with multicellular organisms, including insects and other animals. There is now an increasing body of work showing that some microbial metabolites have important roles in controlling the development and/or behaviour of these multicellular organisms. In this symposium the role of metabolites produced by complex microbial communities, such as the gut microbiota, in animal health and development will be explored. This symposium will also discuss the role of specific signalling molecules that are produced by microbes and have been shown to have key roles in regulating the life-cycles of their animal hosts. Finally, in addition to making metabolites, the symposium will hear how microbes can transform one type of molecule into another with potentially serious implications on the health of the host.

Organisers

Gunnar Schroeder (Queen's University, Belfast); Conor Feehily (Teagasc Moorepark, Republic of Ireland); David Clarke (University College Cork, Ireland)

Microbial biotechnology

This session will highlight advances made in microbial bio-engineering, synthetic microbiology and systems biotechnology that ultimately aims to disrupt the fossil-fuel based economy through the establishment of sustainable manufacturing of metabolites, materials, and medicines for a range of applications and sectors. Contributions are invited on topics such as bio-based and/or self-organizing building blocks and nanoparticles, bioproduction, biofabrication, smart and hybrid biomaterials, biosensors and bioremediation while submissions on novel tools for design and bio-engineering will also be most welcome.

Organisers

Geertje van Keulen (Swansea University, UK); Alison Smith (University of Cambridge, UK); Nick Tucker (University of Strathclyde, UK)

Virus workshop: RNA viruses

RNA viruses represent some of the most prevalent and serious threats to human public health. Even now, despite many years of searching, HCV and HIV continue to frustrate vaccine development, yet are held in check by antiviral regimens. By contrast, diseases like yellow fever persist despite a ready-made, efficacious vaccine and we lack interventions for many of the existing and emerging RNA viruses across the planet. Moreover, RNA viruses exert exquisite influence over the host cell, hijacking multiple pathways and eluding both innate and adaptive immunity. We invite abstracts focused upon any aspects of RNA virus biology (+ve, -ve strand, dsRNA viruses, retro/Lentiviruses, including animal/plant viruses), ranging from molecular studies to human trials. Studies on pathogenesis and transmission will also form an integral of the part of the session, along with antivirals, vaccine development and epidemiology.

Organisers

Rachael Tarlinton (University of Nottingham, UK); Ed Hutchinson (University of Glasgow, UK); Dalan Bailey (The Pirbright Institute, UK); Steve Griffin (University of Leeds, UK)

Wednesday 28 April, Afternoon

Bacterial metabolites as modulators of host physiology

Microbes are versatile metabolic factories that have the potential to produce a wide range of metabolites, including small bioactive compounds. Many microbes also have specific symbiotic interactions with multicellular organisms, including insects and other animals. There is now an increasing body of work showing that some microbial metabolites have important roles in controlling the development and/or behaviour of these multicellular organisms. In this symposium the role of metabolites produced by complex microbial communities, such as the gut microbiota, in animal health and development will be explored. This symposium will also discuss the role of specific signalling molecules that are produced by microbes and have been shown to have key roles in regulating the life-cycles of their animal hosts. Finally, in addition to making metabolites, the symposium will hear how microbes can transform one type of molecule into another with potentially serious implications on the health of the host.

Organisers

Gunnar Schroeder (Queen's University, Belfast); Conor Feehily (Teagasc Moorepark, Republic of Ireland); David Clarke (University College Cork, Ireland)

Exploring the eukaryotic tree of life

This session, under the umbrella of Protistology-UK, will complement the new UK initiative “Darwin Tree of Life Project”, which aims to sequence and annotate the genomes of 66,000 UK species of animals, plants protists and fungi. This initiative is part of the “Earth BioGenome Project”, which targets to sequence all 1.5 million known eukaryotic species on earth. Protists and fungi are the main contributors to this list and we will explore their vast diversity, not only within the UK, but globally. Speakers will discuss which branches of the eukaryotic tree of life have been over/underestimated based on recent metagenomics data and which regions have been undersampled to explore and discover potentially new branches of the eukaryotic tree. This session is dedicated to Professor Thomas Cavalier-Smith FRS FRSC who passed away on 19 March 2021.

Organisers

Anastasios Tsaousis (University of Kent, UK); Sonja Rueckert (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)

Microbial biotechnology

This session will highlight advances made in microbial bio-engineering, synthetic microbiology and systems biotechnology that ultimately aims to disrupt the fossil-fuel based economy through the establishment of sustainable manufacturing of metabolites, materials, and medicines for a range of applications and sectors. Contributions are invited on topics such as bio-based and/or self-organizing building blocks and nanoparticles, bioproduction, biofabrication, smart and hybrid biomaterials, biosensors and bioremediation while submissions on novel tools for design and bio-engineering will also be most welcome.

Organisers

Geertje van Keulen (Swansea University, UK); Alison Smith (University of Cambridge, UK); Nick Tucker (University of Strathclyde, UK)

Virus workshop: RNA viruses

RNA viruses represent some of the most prevalent and serious threats to human public health. Even now, despite many years of searching, HCV and HIV continue to frustrate vaccine development, yet are held in check by antiviral regimens. By contrast, diseases like yellow fever persist despite a ready-made, efficacious vaccine and we lack interventions for many of the existing and emerging RNA viruses across the planet. Moreover, RNA viruses exert exquisite influence over the host cell, hijacking multiple pathways and eluding both innate and adaptive immunity. We invite abstracts focused upon any aspects of RNA virus biology (+ve, -ve strand, dsRNA viruses, retro/Lentiviruses, including animal/plant viruses), ranging from molecular studies to human trials. Studies on pathogenesis and transmission will also form an integral of the part of the session, along with antivirals, vaccine development and epidemiology.

Organisers

Rachael Tarlinton (University of Nottingham, UK); Ed Hutchinson (University of Glasgow, UK); Dalan Bailey (The Pirbright Institute, UK); Steve Griffin (University of Leeds, UK)

Thursday 29 April, Morning

Essential skills - entrepreneurship

This session will provide participants with useful information about the key areas of business to consider when becoming a scientific entrepreneur. Participants will be given a checklist of considerations from patents and funding to marketing strategies and creating a team. Microbiology entrepreneurs will provide insight into how they transformed their scientific research into business ideas.

Organisers

Diane Wilkinson (Legume Technology, UK); Tadhg Ó'Cróinín (University College Dublin, Ireland); Rocky Cranenburgh (Bitrobius Genetics Ltd, UK)

Public health microbiology

A broad session covering the spectrum of public health microbiology applications. Invited speakers cover the practise and application of public health microbiology at the national level (Gayatri Amirthalingam, PHE Colindale, UK) and internationally (Iruka Okeke Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Direk Limmathurotsakul, Thailand). We cover public health microbiology at the front line including an update on the contentious issue of Lyme disease incidence and epidemiology (Anne Cruikshank, RCGP Clinical Champion for Lyme Disease and Sandra Pearson, Lyme Disease Action UK); and how genomics can be incorporated fully into national level surveillance and epidemiology of infectious disease as demonstrate by Michael Weigand, CDC Atlanta, USA. We will include offered papers from across the breadth of public health microbiology to deliberately create a broad interest session.

Organisers

Andrew Preston (University of Bath, UK); Norman Fry (Public Health England - National Infection Service, UK)

The impact of the UK-EU deal on scientific research and innovation

On 24 December 2020, the UK and the EU reached a deal, including agreeing the terms for UK association to Horizon Europe – the successor program of Horizon 2020 and one of the most ambitious multilateral funding schemes in the world. What are the details of the agreement and the implications for microbiology research and innovation? How can universities mitigate the impact of any new barriers? Does it bring about an end to uncertainty and should the microbiology community get back involved in EU collaborative research? Our panel of speakers will consider where we are and where we might be heading. There will also be the opportunity for questions from our on-line audience.

Organisers

Eva Scholtus (Microbiology Society, UK)

Virus workshop: DNA viruses

We invite abstracts on any aspect of DNA viruses. Depending on the abstracts received, the workshop will be structured around a typical life-cycle of DNA viruses and will cover virus entry and uncoating, genome replication, particle structure, assembly and egress. Pathogenesis will be covered to demonstrate the diversity of diseases that these viruses cause, together with the host response to infection, and vaccine or antiviral-based treatments or therapies that can be used to combat infection. Both human and animal pathogens will be covered, including the opportunity for clinicians to present studies on ongoing outbreaks or epidemiological studies.

Organisers

Jo Parish (University of Birmingham, UK); Matthew Reeves (University College London, UK); Claire Shannon-Lowe (University of Birmingham, UK); Blair Strang (St George's, University of London, UK)

Thursday 29 April, Afternoon

Phage biology

Bacteriophages have come to the forefront in recent years, in particular due to their exciting applications in treatment of resilient bacterial infections. This session with bring together various topics on phage biology ranging from fascinating fundamental biology to phage genetic engineering and novel therapeutic applications.

Organisers

Meera Unnikrishnan (University of Warwick, UK); Robert Fagan (University of Sheffield, UK)

Public health microbiology

A broad session covering the spectrum of public health microbiology applications. Invited speakers cover the practise and application of public health microbiology at the national level (Gayatri Amirthalingam, PHE Colindale, UK) and internationally (Iruka Okeke Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Direk Limmathurotsakul, Thailand). We cover public health microbiology at the front line including an update on the contentious issue of Lyme disease incidence and epidemiology (Anne Cruikshank, RCGP Clinical Champion for Lyme Disease and Sandra Pearson, Lyme Disease Action UK); and how genomics can be incorporated fully into national level surveillance and epidemiology of infectious disease as demonstrate by Michael Weigand, CDC Atlanta, USA. We will include offered papers from across the breadth of public health microbiology to deliberately create a broad interest session.

Organisers

Andrew Preston (University of Bath, UK); Norman Fry (Public Health England - National Infection Service, UK)

Virus workshop: DNA viruses

We invite abstracts on any aspect of DNA viruses. Depending on the abstracts received, the workshop will be structured around a typical life-cycle of DNA viruses and will cover virus entry and uncoating, genome replication, particle structure, assembly and egress. Pathogenesis will be covered to demonstrate the diversity of diseases that these viruses cause, together with the host response to infection, and vaccine or antiviral-based treatments or therapies that can be used to combat infection. Both human and animal pathogens will be covered, including the opportunity for clinicians to present studies on ongoing outbreaks or epidemiological studies.

Organisers

Jo Parish (University of Birmingham, UK); Matthew Reeves (University College London, UK); Claire Shannon-Lowe (University of Birmingham, UK); Blair Strang (St George's, University of London, UK)

Friday 30 April, Morning

Infection

Offered papers will be presented in areas related to infections caused by prokaryote and eukaryote pathogens of human, veterinary or botanical significance including epidemiology, diagnosis, identification, typing, pathogenesis, treatment, antimicrobial agents and resistance, prevention, virulence factors, host responses and immunity, transmission, and models of infection at the cell, tissue or whole organism level.

Organisers

Andrew Edwards (Imperial College, UK); Duncan Wilson (University of Exeter, UK); Helen Brown (University of Cardiff, UK)

Teaching microbiology in higher education

This symposium will deliver sessions dedicated to pertinent areas of interest for those involved in teaching in higher education. Delegates will have the opportunity to learn from the experience of those involved in AMR outreach and engagement activities; HEA fellowships will be explored in its wider breadth; and those involved in using and creating digital platforms for teaching microbiology will present their practices.

Organisers

Tadhg Ó'Cróinín (University College Dublin, Ireland); Nicola Crewe (University of Lincoln, UK); James Edwards (University of Plymouth, UK); Alison Graham (Hull York Medical School, UK); Christopher Randall (University of Leeds, UK); Mel Lacey (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

The secret life of mobile genetic elements

Bacteria host a diverse range of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) — including plasmids, transposons, integrative-conjugative elements, and prophages — that make a significant impact on the lives of the bacteria they inhabit, and beyond. As vehicles of horizontal gene transfer, MGEs facilitate rapid adaptation, allowing microbes to colonize new environments, exemplified by the alarming spread of resistance genes between lineages. Changes in MGE copy number can alter gene dosage, enhancing evolution through increased mutational supply, while changes to genome architecture or gene expression caused by MGE activity can result in large-scale phenotypic change. MGEs interact with one another in multifarious ways both competitive and collaborative, affecting the success of the microbes that host them. Meanwhile, the functions encoded by MGEs represent a powerful molecular toolkit which has been repurposed by microbes for various services including gene regulation and antagonising neighbours. In this session we will consider the far-reaching contribution that these ubiquitous, diverse, and versatile elements make to microbial life.

Organisers

Robert Fagan (University of Sheffield, UK); James Hall (University of Liverpool, UK)

Virus workshop: visualising viruses

In recent years, enormous technological advances have allowed researchers to unpick the structural and dynamic details of viruses and their interactions with unprecedented detail. These include huge strides in cryo-EM and cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) capabilities that deliver structural information at the atomic level. Super-resolution microscopy and single molecule techniques have provided an unparalleled view of macromolecular dynamics, including virus-host interactions and virus replication, transcription and translation. In addition, techniques such as correlative light-electron microscopy (CLEM) has bridged light microscopy and high-resolution EM in order to simultaneously correlate functional information with ultrastructural detail. Together, these exciting developments have shed light on viral processes such as fusion and entry, assembly, maturation, gene expression and replication. They have also played a central role in the development of antiviral therapeutics, including vaccines, by providing unparalleled information about neutralising antibody interactions with viral glycoproteins. Because ‘structure determines function’, our ability to visualise these processes has revolutionised our understanding of virology and associated diseases. This symposium will bring together the fascinating research that has allowed us to visualise viruses and fundamental virus biology.

Organisers

Goedele Maertens (Imperial College London, UK); Charlotte Uetrecht (Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Germany); David Hughes (University of St Andrews, UK); Rachel Edgar (Imperial College London, UK)

Friday 30 April, Afternoon

Infection

Offered papers will be presented in areas related to infections caused by prokaryote and eukaryote pathogens of human, veterinary or botanical significance including epidemiology, diagnosis, identification, typing, pathogenesis, treatment, antimicrobial agents and resistance, prevention, virulence factors, host responses and immunity, transmission, and models of infection at the cell, tissue or whole organism level.

Organisers

Andrew Edwards (Imperial College, UK); Duncan Wilson (University of Exeter, UK); Helen Brown (University of Cardiff, UK)

Teaching microbiology in higher education

This symposium will deliver sessions dedicated to pertinent areas of interest for those involved in teaching in higher education. Delegates will have the opportunity to learn from the experience of those involved in AMR outreach and engagement activities; HEA fellowships will be explored in its wider breadth; and those involved in using and creating digital platforms for teaching microbiology will present their practices.

Organisers

Tadhg Ó'Cróinín (University College Dublin, Ireland); Nicola Crewe (University of Lincoln, UK); James Edwards (University of Plymouth, UK); Alison Graham (Hull York Medical School, UK); Christopher Randall (University of Leeds, UK); Mel Lacey (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

The secret life of mobile genetic elements

Bacteria host a diverse range of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) — including plasmids, transposons, integrative-conjugative elements, and prophages — that make a significant impact on the lives of the bacteria they inhabit, and beyond. As vehicles of horizontal gene transfer, MGEs facilitate rapid adaptation, allowing microbes to colonize new environments, exemplified by the alarming spread of resistance genes between lineages. Changes in MGE copy number can alter gene dosage, enhancing evolution through increased mutational supply, while changes to genome architecture or gene expression caused by MGE activity can result in large-scale phenotypic change. MGEs interact with one another in multifarious ways both competitive and collaborative, affecting the success of the microbes that host them. Meanwhile, the functions encoded by MGEs represent a powerful molecular toolkit which has been repurposed by microbes for various services including gene regulation and antagonising neighbours. In this session we will consider the far-reaching contribution that these ubiquitous, diverse, and versatile elements make to microbial life.

Organisers

Robert Fagan (University of Sheffield, UK); James Hall (University of Liverpool, UK)

Virus workshop: visualising viruses

In recent years, enormous technological advances have allowed researchers to unpick the structural and dynamic details of viruses and their interactions with unprecedented detail. These include huge strides in cryo-EM and cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) capabilities that deliver structural information at the atomic level. Super-resolution microscopy and single molecule techniques have provided an unparalleled view of macromolecular dynamics, including virus-host interactions and virus replication, transcription and translation. In addition, techniques such as correlative light-electron microscopy (CLEM) has bridged light microscopy and high-resolution EM in order to simultaneously correlate functional information with ultrastructural detail. Together, these exciting developments have shed light on viral processes such as fusion and entry, assembly, maturation, gene expression and replication. They have also played a central role in the development of antiviral therapeutics, including vaccines, by providing unparalleled information about neutralising antibody interactions with viral glycoproteins. Because ‘structure determines function’, our ability to visualise these processes has revolutionised our understanding of virology and associated diseases. This symposium will bring together the fascinating research that has allowed us to visualise viruses and fundamental virus biology.

Organisers

Goedele Maertens (Imperial College London, UK); Charlotte Uetrecht (Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Germany); David Hughes (University of St Andrews, UK); Rachel Edgar (Imperial College London, UK)

Lecture View

Monday 26 April, Morning

Monday 26 April, Afternoon

Tuesday 27 April, Morning

Tuesday 27 April, Afternoon

Wednesday 28 April, Morning

Wednesday 28 April, Afternoon

Thursday 29 April, Morning

Thursday 29 April, Afternoon

Friday 30 April, Morning