Day 2 of Lake Arrowhead kicked off with a nice mix of talks with seemingly a focus on biogeography and spatial resolution of microbial communities which was pretty interesting to see.
First was Martin Ackermann from ETH Zurich, Switzerland “A Microscale Perspective on Microbial Interactions”. Introduced topic by talking about the need to understand what’s going on in microbial consortium composed of more than one genotype. Talked about the Black Queen hypothesis wherein microbes distribute metabolic functions across species given enough time together. Also discussed “unmixing” where microbes spatially assort with other similar microbes. Lot of data looking at the actual spatial organization of bugs within consortia.
Next was Lindsay Kalan from University of Wisconsin Madison “Cutaneous Microbiome Interactions in Health and Disease”. Gave a great introduction on chronic wounds as the “biggest health problem you never heard of”. Learned a ton about the scale of the problem… she is trying to understand the relationship of the microbiome and infection of chronic wounds. Unpublished data so not getting into details, but she did both environmental surveys, cultured isolates of interest, and experiments in mice.
Followed by Michelle E. Afkhami from the University of Miami, “ Multispecies Mutualisms: Transcriptomic Approaches to Understanding Tripartite Interactions among Rhizobia, Mycorrhizal Fungi, and Plants”. The title kind of says it all. This kind of work, that crosses domain boundaries as well as looks at both genomic and spatial organization seems critical for really understanding systems.
After the break was Megan T. Baldridge from Washington University, St. Louis, “Regulation of Enteric Norovirus Infection by the Commensal Bacteria”. Norovirus has both an acute and a long-term shedding phase… she is interested the persistent phase. Asking if commensal bacteria in the gut are important for persistent murine Norovirus. Which they appear to be (in a proviral sense). Some cool work with fecal transplants, showing which microbial communities are able to rescue norovirus infection in various immune-modified mouse strains.
Then Andrew L. Kau from Washington University, St. Louis, MO “Immunology-microbiota Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Allergic Diseases”. Some nice background on asthma. He is interested in the relationship between commensal microbes, the immune system, and asthma. Has a nice humanized gnotobiotic mouse model for experiments.
Last before lunch was Otto X. Cordero from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The Consequences of Spatial Behavior and Cell-Cell Interactions for Microbial Genome Evolution”. Started off with an emphasis on focusing at the scale of the microbe (instead of the community). Looking at community assembly on artificial carbohydrate particles in controlled conditions to mimic what happens in the ocean.
Ophelia Venturelli from the University of Wisconsin Madison started off the evening with “Quantification of microbial interactions across space and time”. Doing some really cool-sounding work on artificial consortia encapsulated in microdroplets. Developed tools to detect microbial interactions in their drops. Working on scaling up from pairwise understanding to higher order interactions. Like the combination of computer modeling and actual experiments with the bugs.
Next was Carolina Tropini from Stanford University “Connecting Gut Microbiota Biogeography to
Function”. Started off talking about the biogeography of the gut… we often talk about it as a homogeneous environment (which we sample via feces) but of course it’s a very heterogenous system. Talked about perturbations to osmolaity and the effects on the microbiome. Feces isn’t a representative sample… also some interesting thoughts on the potential negative effects of laxatives on the microbial community.
Last talk of the evening was Karen Guillemin from the University of Oregon “Teaming with Microbes: Lessons from the Zebrafish Intestine”. More cool videos showing the bacteria in real-time within the gut. Amazing how many projects now include biogeography or other spatial information. Talked about a gnotobiotic zebrafish model. Made a distinction between signals and cues between the microbiome and the host. Asking questions about the influence of the microbiome on the development of the host.
And here’s all the tweets from Day 2 of the conference.