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August 2013

A F F I L I AT E S L E T T E R The official newsletter for FEMS Affiliates

Highlights 5th FEMS Congress Also in this issue: Grants Corner FEMS Research Fellowships Grants Publications Page Animals & Microbes Society Page Portuguese Society for Microbiology Deadlines Microbiology TidBits

Leipzig (Germany), the city of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach, hosted the 5th FEMS Congress during five warm days in the third week of July. Despite the hot weather and the holidays, more than 2,000 participants were present to fill up the lecture halls for symposia, plenary lectures, special events and workshops. On Sunday, Nobel Prize laureate Dr Harald zur Hausen gave the opening lecture on “Infectious causes of human cancers” followed a presentation by Dr Kristala Prather Jones on “Exploiting the synthetic capacity of microbes for the production of novel value-added biochemicals”. Monday was closed by Dr Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser, European Commission, with a session on “Policy – Should it be based on fact or fiction?”, in which she also referred to the European Declaration for Microbiology initiated by FEMS, among others.

Statue of Bach in front of the St. Thomas Church, which is known as the place where Bach worked as a Kapellmeister, and as his burial location.

Busy poster sessions were held throughout the whole day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 1,900 posters attracted the participants’ attention. Continue on page 2.

Lots of activities took place in the main hall of the congress center. On the right: Jeff Cole, Chief Editor of FEMS Microbiology Letters, informs a participant during one of the “Meet the Editor” sessions at the Wiley-Blackwell stand.

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Continuation of page 1.

FEMS President Bernard Schink (left) and FEMS Congress Grants Committee Chairperson Vaso Taleski (right) with the Poster Prize winners. From left to right: Lior Lobell, Claudia Gniese, Andrius Buivydas, Piotr Golec, Julia Monjarás and Javier Pascual.

A lot could be learned on how to publish your paper. The Chief Editors of the FEMS journals were present for a “Meet the Editor” session in the booth of FEMS’ publisher Wiley-Blackwell, who also organized a very well attended special event on Tuesday with the title “Scientific publication explained, how to reduce (or increase) your chances of rejection”. For the first time this congress was attended by a Mäkelä-Cassell fellow. This new fellowship is a joint FEMS-ASM grant to allow one young scientist to join either the FEMS Congress or the ASM congress

every other year. The first Mäkelä-Cassell fellow is Dr. Clayton Caswell from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg (USA), who received the award from FEMS President Bernhard Schink during the closing ceremony. As with many other nice things in life, this congress had to end on Thursday. After an inspiring morning with the Lwoff Award prize lecture given by Dr Juan Luis Ramos on “Mechanism of solvent tolerance in gram negative bacteria”. Finally, the stage was filled with several young scientists, who received a best poster prize, bringing the congress to a glorious end.

Feedback for FEMS 2015 Some of you have sent us your valuable observations and suggestions for improvement of the next FEMS Congress in 2015. Even if you have not received our reply to your comments yet, as a result of holiday. Please rest assured that your remarks are much appreciated, and that you will receive a reply in due course. Therefore, if there is anything that you would like to change or improve for the upcoming FEMS Congress 2015, then please let us know. We look forward to meeting you in Maastricht, The Netherlands, 7-11 June 2015!

Maastricht, The Netherlands 7 - 11 June 2015

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CALL for APPLICATIONS FEMS Research Fellowships Grants 1 December of each year is the deadline for the FEMS Research Fellowships Grants. Interested in applying? Please do it on time and send your complete application file to our FEMS Office by e-mail and as a hard copy.

Grant description

Application checklist

FEMS Research Fellowships are meant to assist young European scientists in pursuing research up to 3 months in a European country different from that in which she/he lives. These grants are intended to support the Fellow´s travel and living costs.

FEMS Research Fellowships regulations apply to each application for the FEMS Research Fellowships. The requirements consist of, but are not limited to the following: • You are an active microbiologist. • You are younger than 36 years old. • You are a citizen of a European country. • You are a member of a FEMS member society (at least for 1 year before applying). • You will pursue your project in a European country which is not your country of residence • You have thoroughly read the regulations governing FEMS Research Fellowships • You have completed the relevant application form available on the FEMS website with the following attachments: • Your curriculum vitae. • Letter of reference. • Letter of acceptance from the host laboratory. • Research project proposal written by you • Your photograph. • Your application is endorsed by the FEMS Delegate of your society.

A FEMS Research Fellowship covers travel (at economy rates) and living costs for the fellow to a maximum of EUR 4 000 (no financial assistance for the host - e.g. bench fees). The deadlines for receipt of applications at FEMS Office are December 1 (first round) and June 15 (second round). The regulations and application forms are available electronically. Please read them carefully and check the list at the right before contacting the FEMS Office. Upon its receipt at FEMS Office, the application is checked for eligibility and completeness. Complete applications are then submitted to the Grants Boards. Our Grants Board formulates its recommendations to the Executive Committee, which then makes the final decision that will be communicated soon thereafter.

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Please send the complete application to grants@ fems-microbiology.org before the deadline of 1 December 2013.

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Animals & Microbes Life of microbes and animals are closely interlinked in numerous ways. Read the selected FEMS publications below to find out how (1) analysing cyanobacterial communities can help to conserve endangered flamingos, (2) genetically modified fungi may improve feed products for farm animals and (3) studying yeasts living on sap beetles provides fundamental inside on speciation events.

Cyanobacteria & flamingos

Dadheech et al., FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 85(2): 389-401

Hot springs and saline-alkaline lakes of East Africa are extreme habitats regarding temperature, or salinity and pH, respectively. This study examines whether divergent habitats of Lake Bogoria, Kenya, impacts cyanobacterial community structure. Samples from the hot springs, pelagic zone and sediment were analysed by light microscopy, multilocus 454-amplicons sequencing and metagenomics to compare the cyanobacterial diversity. The authors Flamingos at the lake shore, foraging on cyanobacteria have analysed the populations of near the outlets of steaming hot springs. cyanobacteria of Lake Bogoria in order to study the potential impact of Lesser Flamingos. This lake is one of the main distribution areas of Lesser Flamingo, the indicator bird of African soda lakes. Lesser Flamingos are critically endangered and highly specialized regarding their diet, which consists preferably of cyanobacteria. Read more Dominant morphotypes of cyanobacteria from lake Bogoria

Transformation of entomopathogenic fungus for mealworm feed additives Kim et al., FEMS Microbiology Letters, Volume 344(2): 173-178

In this work, a transformed entomopathogenic fungus successfully produced enhanced green fluorescent protein in mealworms. The authors suggest that further valuable proteins can be efficiently produced in this mealworm-based fungal expression platform, thereby increasing the value of mealworms in the animal feed additive industry. Read more Mealworms, which can be used for proteins in animal feed

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Cactus flower beetle yeast: genetic structure of Kurtzmaniella cleridarum Lachance et al., Yeast Research, 2013

The plant-insect interface often serves as the site of a highly specific, accessible yeast community. Yeasts, besides being microbes, sometimes have the benefit that they can be fit to a non-arbitrary species concept based on the ability to mate and generate meiotic offspring which is the case of Kurtzmaniella cleridarum. The processes responsible for such an association are not known, but the volatiles produced by yeasts during fermentation are known to attract Carpophilus species in certain crop plants and may play a role in this yeast-beetle-flower ecosystem. Sap beetles (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) found in the corolla of certain flowers carry yeasts that are often unique to the beetle species. The nitidulid Carpophilus pallipennis, which visits flowers of various cacti in the Sonoran Desert, constitutes a particularly noteworthy example: the beetle harbours mostly a single yeast species, Kurtzmaniella cleridarum. The stability of the association makes it relatively easy to recover multiple isolates of K. cleridarum from a broad geographic range during the flowering season (April/ May).

Flowers of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia phaeacantha, Saguaro National Park East.

Sap beetle, Carpophilus pallipennis, is the host of yeast species Kurtzmaniella cleridarum. Photo courtesy of Graham Montgomery.

Lachance et al. describe the results of a study of the genetic structure and biogeography of a recently discovered 95 isolates of the yeast species K. cleridarum recovered from nitidulid beetles collected in flowers of cacti of the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and the Mojave Desert of California. Yeast samples were characterized on the basis of mating type and ten polymorphic DNA markers in relation to their geographic distribution. Much of the genetic differentiation took place at the local level, indicating that gene flow across the various localities is limited. However, a relationship exists between overall genetic differentiation and geography over long distance. We estimated that populations separated by ca. 1,300 km would share no alleles in common and that such a separation might be enough to favor the onset of speciation. Read more

Prof. William T. Starmer collecting insects from a flower of the hedgehog cactus, Echinocereus engelmanni in Alamo Canyon.

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Portuguese Society for Microbiology In December 1973 the Portuguese Society for Microbiology (SPM) was founded as a scientific nonprofit association.

Working Groups To encourage SPM’s actions based on outstanding research and relevant professional activities, several Working Groups were created. The interaction of the Working Groups with SPM members is assured through the SPM webpage and the Magazine.

The SPM aims are to promote and develop research, teaching and applications of microbiology and related sciences in Portugal, fostering the interaction between SPM members and encouraging the communication between microbiologists. SPM became a member of FEMS in 1974, is an affiliated member of IUMS (International Union of Microbiological Societies) since 1982 and has integrated ALAM (Latin American Association of Microbiology) in 2010. A partnership was established with EMBO since 2010 for joint grants, allowing the attendance of EMBO Annual Meeting by young students and postdocs affiliated as SPM members. Currently with more than 250 members, SPM wants to attract more researchers and active professionals in the different fields of microbiology, with particular emphasis for young graduates, masters and PhDs. SPM Journal Microbiologia is the SPM online open access journal aimed at unveiling microbiology R&D activities in Portugal and promoted by Portuguese researchers, in the scientific, academic and professional communities. This dual-language publication accepts scientific articles or news written in Portuguese or English. Invited or volunteer submissions are intended to be state of the art or to provide a new perspective about timely and relevant R&D topics. Website: http://magazinespm.pt/

Microbiotec’13 Every two years, SPM , together with the Portuguese Society for Biotechnology, organizes the National Congress of Microbiology and Biotechnology (Microbiotec). This joint meeting includes interdisciplinary sessions across several thematic areas in Microbiology and Biotechnology and has already six editions (2001-2011). This year, Microbiotec’13 will take place from the 6th to the 8th of December and will be hosted by the Universidade de Aveiro. Website: http://microbiotec13.web.ua.pt/ Current Executive Board The Executive Board includes the President of SPM, Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia (Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon), two Vice-Presidents (Prof. Hermínia Lencastre and Prof. Jorge Pedrosa), the General and Assistant Secretaries (Prof. Rogerio Tenreiro and Prof. Arsénio Fialho) and the Treasurer (Dr. Teresa Crespo).

SPM website: http://spmicrobiologia.wordpress.com/ S O C I E T Y PA G E

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DEADLINES 1 September 2013 1 April 2014 FEMS Meeting Attendance Grants 1 December 2013 FEMS - ASM Mäkelä - Cassell Grant 1 December 2013 15 June 2014 FEMS Research Fellowships 15 December 2013 1 June 2014 FEMS National & Regional Congresses Grants 1 March 2014 FEMS Meeting Grants (for meetings to be held in 2015)

FEMS-Sponsored Meetings, Summer 2013 29 August - 3 September 2013 26th International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology, Frankfurt/M, Germany. 7 - 11 September 2013 14th International Conference on Pseudomonas, Lausanne, Switzerland. 8 - 13 September 2013 Symposium on Aquatic Microbial Ecology, SAME13, Stresa, Italy. 8 - 13 September 2013 Thermophiles 2013, Regensburg, Germany. 22 - 25 September 2013 1st European Conference on Natural Products: Research and Applications, Frankfurt/M, Germany.

The FEMS Affiliates Letter is a production of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies www.fems-microbiology.org

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MICROBIOLOGY TIDBITS Giant viruses hint at fourth domain of life Researchers have found the biggest viruses known. The newfound genus Pandoravirus not only dwarfs other viruses by a factor ten, but also has surprisingly little in common with other viruses. For example, it reproduces in a curious fashion. Even more strikingly, 93 percent of pandoraviruses’ 2,500 genes cannot be traced back to any known lineage in nature. The discovery of pandoraviruses opens up entirely new questions in science and even suggests a fourth domain of life. Source: Scientific American

Darwinian economics Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Sydney demonstrated that bacteria have the potential to teach valuable investment lessons. Bacteria, like humans, have limited resources and are constantly faced with investment decisions. The researchers used mathematical models and lab-based synthetic biology to predict bacterial investment crashes and boom-bust cycles.  Source: University of Exeter Nano artillery dismantled Various bacteria have the ability to deploy tiny darts. This biological weapon kills the host cell by piercing the membrane. Researchers from Switzerland have dismantled, piece by piece, this intriguing little machine and found an assembly of proteins that, in unfolding at the right time, takes the form of a spur. Source: Science Daily

Microbial Diversity The tree of life is dominated by microbes, but many large branches remain uncharted because scientists have historically been restricted to studying the small fraction of species that will grow in a lab. An international team of scientists has now begun to redress this bias, sequencing full genomes to bring the “uncultured majority” into view. More than 200 new microbial species belonging to 29 underrepresented or unknown lineages were identified. The results were full of new metabolic abilities and genetic surprises. Source: The Scientist

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FEMS Affiliates Letter August 2013