Monday, 20 August 2012

Day 1 at ISME

Greetings from lovely Copenhagen! I'll be trying to live blog from the 14th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology (ISME14). I arrived in Copenhagen yesterday, and had a bit of an explore by bike. Amongst other tourist attractions, I visited a sand sculpture exhibition, and found the evolution-themed sand sculpture pictured below, you can see double stranded DNA forming from individual bases. 

DNA Sand Sculpture
Anyway back to ISME. One difficulty is there are usually multiple sessions on at the same time I would like to attend. This morning I had to toss a coin between attending sessions on Microbial Community Diversity; Single Cell Microbiology; Microbial Dispersion and Biogeography; or Microbes in a Changing Ocean. So to hedge my bets I'm dodging in and out of different sessions.

Phil Hugenholtz from the University of Queensland gave a very cool talk on using deep metagenomic sequencing to gain insight into the TM7 group of bacteria, an unculturable group of bacteria which are present in many environments and may play a role in chronic human diseases. However because they can't be grown in the lab and they are usually low abundance organisms in the environment, little is known about their function or lifestyle. Phil presented data showing that by sequencing DNA extracted by two methods from one environmental sample, he could exploit the variable population coverage in the two different DNA preps to assemble complete or near-complete TM7 genomes even though they constituted less than 1% of the bacterial population.

Great line from Ramunas Stepanauskas from Bigelow Labs in response to a speculative question-"It's fun to talk when not constrained by facts"

About to run out of battery power so thats probably it from me for today




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