Trent Northen gathered together seven experts who use synthetic communities to get at the key roles microbes play in complex ecosystems, to share their work in a mini-conference at the 2021 World Microbe Forum. The session took place June 20, 2021.
The World Microbe Forum is a collaboration of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS). Northen is the science deputy of the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology division within Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Biosciences Area
Here’s a quick list of seven takeaways from the mini-conference:
- How do you read a microbe’s mind? Karsten Zengler of UC San Diego looks at gene translation activation sequences to infer what a microbe is about to do.
- How do microbes divvy up responsibilities in soil? Kirsten Hofmockel of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory uses model soil communities to predict which microbes do the heavy lifting of degrading the abundant biopolymer chitin.
- How is a changing microbial community like pouring honey at the breakfast table? Emergent properties and predictable behaviors, says Jeff Gore of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Can we tweak gut microbial communities to make us healthier? Ophelia Venturelli of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows how it’s possible to nudge these communities to make more butyrate, a metabolite that helps dampen inflammation.
- How do microbial communities change around disturbed mangrove ecosystems? They have more bivalve pathogens, which could reduce the amount of nitrogen mangroves normally get from bivalves, says Natalia Erazo of UC San Diego.
- How do microbes interact with roots? Using EcoFABs, Jenny Mortimer of UC Berkeley shows how some microbes make roots sparse and others, make root hairs flourish.
- Can we see deep into microbial biofilms? Na Ji of UC Berkeley shows us how with advanced microscopy techniques.
If you’re hungry for more, this session and others will be available to registrants for a discounted rate until July 31, 2021. Registration to access World Microbe Forum content ends June 30, 2021.
By: Alison F. Takemura