2018 symposium

The 2018 Symposium of the Belgian Society for Microbiology, “Microbes in the Spotlight”, organized jointly with the National Committee for Microbiology occured on Friday October 19th at the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium (RASAB), in Brussels.

Registration BSM Meeting 2018


Abstract Book
Agar Art 2018

Prizes awarded :

BCCM Award for best oral presentation: Frédéric Goormaghtigh
ASM Award for 2d best oral presentation: Jolie Vitse
BSM Award for best poster in Section A: Tatjana Schlechtweg
BSM Award for best poster in Section B: Tom Dongmin Kim
BSM Award for best poster in Section C: Alice Raymackers
BSM Award for best poster in Section D: Aurore Demars
BSM Agar Art Award 2018: Serena Moretti

Our sponsors in 2018

Like in 2017, the Symposium featured four sessions, contributed by the four BSM sections: General Microbiology (section A), Applied and Environmental Microbiology (section B), Medical and Veterinary Microbiology (section C) and Host and Microbes interactions (section D). These sessions consisted of a plenary lecture given by a high-profile scientist followed by short talks given by scientists selected among the poster presenters. A fifth oral session consisted of a lecture given by a prominent Belgian microbiologist, elected by the BSM Board of Governors and the BSM Advisory Board, in recognition of an exceptional achievement.

The one-day event included four parallel poster sessions matching the BSM sections. Four poster prizes, one per section, were awarded at the end of the Symposium.

Jeff Errington is the plenary speaker proposed by section A (General Microbiology). Jeff Errington has spent much of his research career studying fundamental questions about the structure and function of bacterial cells. Early on, he made important contributions to our understanding of the molecular biology underpinning endospore formation in Bacillus subtilis. More recently he has contributed substantially to understanding of chromosome replication and segregation, cell division and cell morphogenesis in bacteria. His lab was one of the pioneers in the application of digital fluorescence imaging methods to bacteria. He is presently Director of the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology; the world’s first major research centre focused specifically on the molecular and cellular biology of bacterial cells. His contributions to basic science have been recognized by election to various learned societies, including Fellowship of the Royal Society, EMBO, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. He received the prestigious Lwoff award from FEMS in 2017.

His academic work is currently funded by major grants from the European Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. The mechanisms underlying essential cellular functions in bacteria include many essential proteins that are actual or potential targets for antibiotics. Errington’s work has generated opportunities for discovery of novel antibiotics, which have been pursued through two spin out companies, Prolysis Ltd and now Newcastle-based Demuris Ltd.

Víctor de Lorenzo (Madrid, 1957) the plenary speaker proposed by section B (Applied and Environmental Microbiology) is a Chemist by training and he holds a position of Research Professor in the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), where he currently heads the Laboratory of Environmental Molecular Microbiology at the National Center for Biotechnology. After his PhD at the CSIC Institute of Enzymology (1983), he worked at the Pasteur Institute (1984), the University of California at Berkeley (1985-1987), the University of Geneva (1988) and the Federal Center for Biotechnology in Braunschweig until 1991, the year in which he joined the CSIC in Madrid.

Víctor de Lorenzo specializes in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of soil microorganisms (particularly Pseudomonas putida) as agents for the decontamination of sites damaged by industrial waste. Victor de Lorenzo has made key contributions to understanding the biology and biotechnological potential of environmental bacteria, with an emphasis on transcriptional regulation of biodegradative pathways for xenobiotic compounds and development of molecular tools for programming whole cells as industrial catalysts. At present, his work explores the interface between Synthetic Biology and Environmental Biotechnology, supported inter alia by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council. His current research attempts to develop the genetic software and the matching instruments for breaking the barriers between biological and non-biological reactions. In 2001 this work received the National Award King James I for Environmental Protection. In June 2008 he was honored with the GSK International Award of the American Society for Microbiology, and in October of the same year he was granted a Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) and the American Academy of Microbiology, and he has co-chaired with Drew Endy the EC-US Working Group on Synthetic Biology. He has published well over 300 articles in scientific journals and specialized books (https://goo.gl/M4sA5N) and he has served as advisor of numerous international panel.

Hilde Revets, the plenary speaker proposed by section C (Medical and Veterinary Microbiology), is currently managing the spearhead “Infectious Diseases” at the University of Antwerp and serves as consulting CSO at Agrosavfe, a biotech company focusing on biological molecules to tackle pests and diseases.

Till August 2018, Hilde has been managing the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO) at the University of Antwerp aiming to integrate vaccine and microbiological research.

Hilde started her professional career at the University of Brussels (VUB) where she obtained her PhD in Biological Sciences in 1993. As part of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Immunology, she joined the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology in 1997 as Principal Investigator with focus on immunology and translational research in vaccine development and antibody-based technologies for therapeutic and diagnostic applications, incl. biomedical applications of camelid-derived single domain antibodies.

She then joined Ablynx in 2006, holding several senior positions and helping translate drug development projects from discovery to clinical development.  She also played a key role in landmark deals for Ablynx.

She is inventor on more than 20 patent applications and brings over 20 years of research and development experience in drug discovery & development, including antibody fragment discovery and early development, as well as antibody discovery technology.

Xavier Nassif (Institut Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris), the plenary speaker proposed by Section D (Host and Microbes Interactions) is an M.D-PhD. He obtained his medical degree from the Medical School Necker-Enfants Malades in 1987 and in 1989 a Ph.D at the Pasteur Institute, in the laboratory of Philippe Sansonetti, deciphering the control of synthesis of the capsule in Klebsiella and E. coli. In this laboratory, he also worked on the role of aerobactin and iron acquisition in the pathogenesis of extra cellular pathogen.  As a post-doctoral fellow, he joined the laboratory of Maggy So, first at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego and then at the Oregon health Sciences University in Portland. In the laboratory of Dr So, he began his work on Neisseria meningitidis.  In 1992, he came back to France as Assistant Professor in the microbiology department of the Medical School Necker Enfants Malades and became full Professor in 1998. His research activity during this time were mostly concentrated on the mechanism by which Neisseria meningitidis can invade the meninges. During this time, he made several important observations on the role of type IV pili in this process and more specifically how the interaction of these pili with endothelial cells signal to the cell leading to the opening of the blood brain barrier.  A hallmark of X. Nassif’s research is a constant attention to the clinical relevance. As an MD, he also kept contact with the reality of infectious diseases as he has a join appointment in the clinical microbiology department of the Hôpital Necker. Since 2014 Dr X.Nassif is heading the Institut Necker-Enfants Malades one of the two research Institutes located on the Necker Campus and he is head of the clinical microbiology laboratory of the Hôpital Necker.

In the recent years, his laboratory made the landmark discovery of receptors on the surface of endothelial cells allowing the opening of the blood brain barrier and the subsequent bacterial invasion of the meninges.


Christine Jacobs-Wagner (Microbial Sciences Institute, Yale University, USA) is the Belgian honorary lecturer nominated for 2018. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Liège (ULg), under the supervision of Jean-Marie Frère (Liège) and Staffan Normark (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm), studying the induction of ampC b-lactamase gene by peptidoglycan degradation products localized in the cytoplasm (1). For her PhD thesis work, she was in 1997 the Grand Prize Winner of the Young Scientist Award (GE & Science). Christine Jacobs-Wagner did then her post-doc in the laboratory of Lucy Shapiro in Stanford University (USA), where she characterized a signaling cascade crucial for cell cycle of the Caulobacter crescentus model bacterium (2).

Localization of the components of this cascade inside the bacterial cell was crucial for their function, that she further characterized after having established her own group at Yale University in 2001 (3). In the course of her investigations she discovered new components of the bacterial cytoskeleton, similar to intermediate filaments, that impact the shape of the bacterium (4) and polar proteins allowing the recruitment of functions to the bacterial poles (5). Christine Jacobs-Wagner also explored other aspects of the organization of the bacterial cells, including localization of messenger RNAs (6). She characterized diffusion in the cytoplasm (7), growth control at the single cell level (8) and movement of DNA segregation machineries in bacteria (9). Recently, she also became interested by the growth pattern of Borrelia burgdorferi, responsible for the Lyme disease (10). Her discoveries had profound impacts in the field of molecular microbiology, and contributed to the creation of a new field, molecular and cellular biology of the bacterial cells.

Christine Jacobs-Wagner is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA since 2015. She is the recipient of the Eli Lilly Award and the Women in Cell Biology Award, among others. She is a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and microbial pathogenesis at the Yale University.  She is now the director of the Microbial Sciences Institute, investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Yale University.

Bergey Medal

During the 2018 BSM Symposium, the Bergey Medal was appointed to Prof. Niall A. Logan – Professor at the Caledonian University Glasgow.

Bergey’s Manual was first brought into print in 1923. The manual is now known under  the name of ‘ Bergey’s Manual of Systematics of Archaea and Bacteria’ is regarded as the reference work in Prokaryotic taxonomy’ (first edition on line is under development:.

The royalties of the publication of the Manual is managed by the Bergey’s Manual Trust (https://www.bergeys.org/trust.html) of which the members take a voluntary function as editors/co-editors. The Trust supports specific meetings  embedded in  the frame of international symposia organized bay FEMS, ASM and  BiSMIS .  Since 1994, The Bergey Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding and life-long contributions to the field of systematics of Bacteria and Archaea. This year the Bergey Medal was appointed to Prof. Niall A.  Logan – Professor at the Caledonian University Glasgow for his contribution to the isolation, characterization and taxonomic studies of the genus Bacillus and related genera. The medal will be presented at the 2018 symposium of the Belgian Society of Microbiology.


(1) Jacobs et al. (1997) Cell 88:823.
(2) Jacobs et al. (1999) Cell 97:111.
(3) Matroule et al. (2004) Cell 118:579.
(4) Ausmees et al. (2003) Cell 115:705. Cabeen et al. (2009) EMBO J. 28 :1208. Charbon et al. (2009) Genes Dev. 23:1131.
(5) Ebersbach et al. (2008) Cell 134:956. Laloux et al. (2013) J. Cell. Biol. 201:827.
(6) Montero Llopis et al. (2010) Nature 466:77
(7) Parry et al. (2014) Cell 156:183.
(8) Campos et al. (2014) Cell 159:1433.
(9) Lim et al. (2014) Elife 3:e02758. Surovtsev et al. (2016) PNAS 113:E7268. Surovtsev et al. (2016) Biophys. J. 110:2790
(10) Jutras et al. (2016) PNAS 113:9162


Short (2010) J. Cell. Biol. 189 :390.

BSM Agar Art Award 2018: Serena Moretti (UAntwerpen) :