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Most influential FEMS publications

Editorial by Jim Prosser

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Most influential FEMS Publications FEMS, the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, is 40 this year. It was established at an initial Council Meeting on November 22nd 1974 and has since grown to comprise 50 member societies in 36 countries, encompassing >30,000 microbiologists. (See for a detailed historical account.) FEMS aims to support microbiology throughout Europe, and beyond, through a range of grants for fellowships, conference organisation, conference attendance and

James Prosser is Chair in Molecular & Cell Microbiology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. His primary research interests are Nitrification, Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function and Archaeal Diversity. He has both extensively published and strong editorial experience. He was Chief Editor of FEMS Microbiology Ecology for five years from 2006-2010, and is presently FEMS Publications Manager. Prosser´s homepage

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research visits, several prestigious Awards, a biennial Congress and through the European Academic of Microbiology and European Microbiology Forum. It publishes a Newsletter and FEMS Focus, which deals with topical areas of microbiology, but the major publications are the five internationally renowned, peerreviewed FEMS journals. FEMS’ first journal was FEMS Microbiology Letters, established in 1977. This was followed in 1985 by FEMS Microbiology Reviews and FEMS Microbiology Ecology, FEMS Immunology and Microbiology in 1988 (re-launched in 2013 as Pathogens and Disease) and FEMS Yeast Research in 2001. These journals are now recognised internationally in their respective fields and attracted >2.4 million downloads in 2012. They provide an important vehicle for communicating microbiology research and also a major source of income to the FEMS. This income is used to fund its grants, fellowships and awards and other support for microbiology. To celebrate our 40th Birthday we have selected a total of 40 outstanding FEMS articles covering four topics. Each topic will be covered in a Virtual Issue consisting of 10 publications from the past 40 years. This first Virtual Issue presents 10 of the most influential FEMS publications from our five journals. The choice was not based on numbers of citations alone, but aimed to highlight articles that made major contributions to microbiology. Please find below the selected articles with comments from our Chief Editors.

FEMS Microbiology Letters


BLAST 2 Sequences

Tatusova and Madden 1999, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1999.tb13575.x The original version of the BLAST computer programme was developed when only limited data were available in genomic or protein databases. It was used to compare sequence data across the entire database, a task that became increasingly time-consuming as the quantity of data expanded. The paper “BLAST 2 Sequences” describes a rapid method for comparing just two sequences: typically one would be a newly discovered sequence; the second would be a related reference sequence. /JC


Chemical identification of glycosphingolipid receptor Leffler and Edén 1980, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1980.tb05064.x

For bacteria to cause infection, they must first attach to specific target molecules on the surface of host cells. This paper reported an important breakthrough in the identification of the host cell receptor molecules recognised by Escherichia coli strains that cause urinary tract infections. The target, a “glycosphingolipid”, is a complex molecule consisting of three components; a sugar residue, a lipid, and an aminoalcohol. /JC

FEMS Yeast Research


Phylogenetic relationships of “Saccharomyces complex”


Engineering yeast for xylose metabolism

Kurtzman and Robnett 2003, doi: 1016/S1567-1356(03)00012-6 Kuyper et al. 2005, doi: 10.1016/j.femsyr.2004.09.010

These two fantastic papers clearly shows the breath of the yeast research community. With the extensive use of yeast in the biotech industry, including production of food and beverages, it is very important to enable good classification and the first paper is an illustration of how this can be done. The other paper is one of the key papers in the field of engineering yeast for xylose metabolism, which is a requirement for moving towards generation ethanol production and a wider use of biomass for production of fuels and chemicals. /JN

Scanning electron micrographs of Saccharomyces cerevisiae minicolonies.

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Pathogens and Disease


TLR2 mutation in lepromatous leprosy patients


Fermented milk intake: specific humoral immune response and changes in intestinal flora

Kang and Chae 2001, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2001.tb01586.x

Link-Amster et al. 1994, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.1994.tb00011.x

Fermenting milk for cheese production.

These two papers highlight the international reach of FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology as well as research topics that have become cornerstones of the relaunched journal (Pathogens and Disease): the role of the innate response in the natural disease hosts, humans, in Kang and Chae’s paper, and the impact on both the adaptive response and the host microbiota of a probiotic treatment in Link-Amster et al. /PB

FEMS Microbiology Ecology


Discovery in a denitrifying fluidized bed reactor Mulder et al. 1995, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.1995.tb00281.x

This pioneering study provided the initial evidence for anaerobic ammonium oxidation with nitrate serving as the electron acceptor (Anammox) that is now known to be an important microbial process in the global nitrogen cycle. / MH


Hydrogen in methanogenic soils and sediments Conrad 1999, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.1999.tb00575.x

There is increasing interest in understanding the controls of methane emissions from wetlands due to the importance of greenhouse gas emissions. This review, examining the role hydrogen thresholds and the control of methanogenesis by competition, continues to be a key resource. /MH

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FEMS Reviews


Genetics of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria Klaenhammer 1993, doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.1993.tb00012.x

Lactic acid bacteria are extremely important to the dairy industry, not only for the production of milk products for human consumption, but also for conversion of grass into animal feeds. They produce a variety of “bacteriocins�, which are proteins or polypeptides that kill closely related bacteria. This review provided a classic overview of the biochemistry and genetics of many of these antibiotic weapons that had been discovered in this industrially important group of bacteria. /JC


Ecology of prokaryotic viruses

Weinbauer 2004, doi: 10.1016/j.femsre.2003.08.001

Epifluoresence microscopy picture showing bacteria and viruses (white arrows) in water.

Viruses that attack or live commensally within bacteria are known as bacteriophages (or simply phages). Intensive interest in them fifty years ago waned until about 15 years ago when it was realised that a wide diversity of phage could be isolated from the environment where they outnumber their bacterial hosts. This review reflects the rebirth of the subject in the context of the control of bacterial populations, especially in soil and aquatic environments, as well as their roles in horizontal gene transfer and hence in microbial evolution. /JC

We hope you enjoyed reading, or re-reading these papers. We also hope that you will submit your best research to the FEMS journals to reach a broad international audience, safe in the knowledge that income from the journals is reinvested to support microbiology. Jim Prosser

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COLOFON: Editorial: Jim Prosser Contributors: JC = Jeff Cole, JN = Jens Nielsen, MH = Max H채ggblom and PB = Patrik Bavoil Layout and editing: FEMS Office, Delftechpark 37a, 2628XJ Delft, The Netherlands, T: +31-15-30-200-50, F: +31-15-30-200-51, E:

Most influential FEMS publications