Annual symposium 2022: Future Challenges in Microbiology

Date and location

Date: March 11, 2022
Venue: Palace of the Academies, Brussels, Belgium

Invited speakers

Elisabeth-Bik

Elisabeth Bik

The Dark Side of Science: Misconduct in Biomedical Research

Science builds upon science. Even after peer-review and publication, science papers could still contain images or other data of concern. If not addressed post-publication, papers containing incorrect or even falsified data could lead to wasted time and money spent by other researchers trying to reproduce those results. Several high-profile science misconduct cases have been described, but many more cases remain undetected. Elisabeth Bik is an image forensics detective who left her paid job in industry to search for and report biomedical articles that contain errors or data of concern. She has done a systematic scan of 20,000 papers in 40 journals and found that about 4% of these contained inappropriately duplicated images. In her talk she will present her work and show several types of inappropriately duplicated images and other examples of research misconduct. In addition, she will show how to report scientific papers of concern, and how journals and institutions handle such allegations.

Yves Brun (Université de Montréal)

Localizing peptidoglycan synthesis for bacterial growth and morphogenesis

The diversity of shapes of organisms is one of the most fascinating aspects in the field of biology. While bacteria display a myriad of morphologies, the mechanisms that control morphogenesis and the evolution of bacterial morphology are not well understood. One mechanism that drives morphogenesis is the synthesis of the peptidoglycan (PG) cell wall at specific subcellular sites, or zones. I will describe methods of peptidoglycan labeling that allow the detection of sites of peptidoglycan synthesis and their use to study the mechanisms of peptidoglycan synthesis. I will describe the mechanisms that control morphological diversity in species related to Caulobacter crescentus and how evolution of a a developmental regulator led to the gain of a new function and localization of this protein, which drove the sequential transition in morphology. Our results indicate that evolution of protein function, co-option, and modularity are key elements in the evolution of bacterial morphology. In addition, I will show how evolutionary consideration of the above mechanism of morphogenesis in close relatives of Caulobacter led to the identification of a new mode of cell elongation.

Martin Ackermann (ETH Zurich)

A single-cell perspective on microbial interactions

Abstract

Hilde De Reuse (Institut Pasteur)

Strategies of Helicobacter pylori to persistently colonize the human stomach

Metal acquisition and intracellular trafficking are crucial for all cells and metal ions have been recognized as virulence determinants in bacterial pathogens. Helicobacter pylori colonizes the acidic stomach of about half of the human population worldwide and is associated with gastric cancer that is responsible for 800,000 deaths every year. Virulence of Helicobacter pylori depends on the metal nickel, cofactor of two enzymes essential for in vivo colonization. In our group, we are studying the transport, storage and distribution of nickel in H. pylori. I will present the functional characterization of unique nickel-binding proteins of H. pylori that act as nickel stores and are essential for colonization. In addition, I will show our identification of a novel nickel transporter that is also required for colonization. Phylogenomics were applied to study the distribution of these proteins in the Helicobacter genus that is divided into two categories, enterohepatic species and gastric species (such as H. pylori)that exclusively colonize the stomach of mammals. Our data show that, during evolution of the Helicobacter genus, acquisition by gastric Helicobacter species of proteins involved in nickel transport and trafficking constituted a decisive evolutionary event to allow Helicobacter to colonize the hostile gastric environment and to become an amazingly successful pathogen.


BSM Honorary Lecture

Guy R Cornelis

How sleepwalkers hit the injectosome

In “The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe” a masterpiece written in 1951, A Koestler traces the history of Western cosmology and he suggests that discoveries in science arise through a process akin to sleepwalking. Not that they arise by chance, but rather that scientists are neither fully aware of what guides their research, nor are they fully aware of the implications of what they discover. This still applies to today’s science and the path to the discovery of “type III secretion” one of the most sophisticated weapons of pathogenic bacteria, represents a good example. In addition, this path illustrates the role of sheer luck and, above all the importance of the contribution of researchers working on subjects whose proximity is unknown but suddenly revealed. Finally, it also illustrates the importance of seizing window opportunities.

Register for the event

If you’re a member of the Belgian Society for Microbiology (€25 yearly membership fee), you can participate for free.

Registration will open soon.