EFB Microbial Stress Meeting

CBMNet sponsored two Early Career Researchers to present at the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) Microbial Stress Meeting; here are their reports…

Arthur Neuberger, University of Cambridge

The meeting covered a broad range of original research talks on various mechanisms and effects of microbial stress responses. These were discussed in the context of clinical or industrial relevance. The organising committee did a fantastic job in selecting a rich variety of abstracts and invited speakers. Since most of these mechanisms involve some sort of cross-membrane transport of toxic substrates, this meeting was a very good fit for CBMNet.

My talk was one of several touching upon the role of multi-drug efflux pumps as key stress response mechanism to antibiotic stress and drivers of AMR. However, it was the only structural talk at this conference. I received positive feedback in two respects: In my talk, I covered (1) the functional and structural investigation of a clinically relevant efflux system (MacAB/TolC) and (2) a brief introduction into the application of cryo-EM for structural biology of membrane proteins. Various conference attendees approached me after my talk expressing interest in either the scientific content or the use of cryo-EM for their own project (or both).

To my positive surprise, one of the conference attendees was Dr. Gerd Seibold (we had met at the very first CBMNet meeting in Sheffield in 2014). During the meeting in Kinsale, we agreed to set up a collaboration project around his Corynebacterium glutamicum channel target. Gerd has functionally investigated the channel and proposed a two-conformational transition model which we both are hoping to confirm by solving its near-atomic structure in those two conformational states. Hence, beyond the interesting content of the meeting, I am happy to say that it also resulted in a potential collaboration.

Conference location (Kinsale) was a picturesque fishing town with a decent amount of tourist attractions and activities. Both conference venues/hotels (including catering) were of high quality. The atmosphere was friendly and open. Various coffee breaks and poster sessions allowed for fruitful discussions in between and after scientific sessions. All sponsors were gratefully acknowledged and advertised at the start and end of the meeting.

University of Sheffield logoAidan Taylor, University of Sheffield

Having just started as Post-Doc I was keen to present the work from my PhD, which was mostly finished, at a relevant conference. I had attended the Bacterial Stress Response EFB meeting 2 years previous in Sitges, Spain and found it to be a higher relevant, well-structured meeting than helped me expand my knowledge base during my PhD. As such I was eager to attend this meeting again and present my updated work. The particular project I presented, the periplasmic methionine sulfoxide reductase system of Campylobacter jejuni, links the two fields of membrane bound electron transport and stress response in pathogenic bacteria. This was therefore broadly relevant to the ethos of both CBMnet and the overall meeting.

As well as valuable feedback on my own work, including some very useful ideas on further possible experiments, I also learnt a lot about stress response systems in other food-borne bacteria, particularly in Listeria monocytogenes, which was highly represented at the meeting. Some useful techniques / methodologies were presented which I hope to now use in my own work in the future.

Being exposed to alternate fields / organisms based around bacterial stress gave me the opportunity to consider where my own research will go in the future. For now, some useful contacts were made which may prove to be fruitful collaborators.

“CBMnet’s generous funding allowed me to attend a meeting where I was exposed to a myriad of ideas, beyond my immediate field, which will help shape my future career”

Aidan Taylor, University of Sheffield