Focused Meeting: Microbes and Mucosal Surfaces

On 21-22 June, the Microbiology Society Focused Meeting on Microbes and Mucosal Surfaces will be held at University College Dublin, Ireland.

We caught up with Dr Marguerite Clyne ahead of the event to talk about why this is such an important meeting and what it will cover.

Marguerite Clyne box

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Sewage science: Are bacteria just the tip of the fatberg?

The UK population continues to have a morbid fascination with fatbergs; these mammoth clumps of oil, wet wipes and human waste coagulate in sewers and grow with every flush. In 2017, a 130-tonne fatberg dubbed ‘The Beast’ made national headlines and even got its own museum exhibit. There is no doubt that fatbergs are disgusting, but what can we learn from them?

According to Water UK, up to 75% of fatbergs are made up of wet wipes, making them the main cause of sewer-blockages. Although many wet wipes are marketed as ‘flushable’, they do not break down and are made up of polyester, gripping onto oil and other waste and coagulating.

At Aberystwyth University, Dr Justin Pachebat and Professor Jo Hamilton volunteered to help analyse the contents of a London fatberg. We caught up with them to discuss their findings, how they became involved in their research and what challenges they encountered.

Fatberg figure 1

Professor Jo Hamilton presenting images of parasite eggs during filming of ‘Fat Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers’

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Science in Parliament: Unlocking the Microbiome

In the new issue of Science in Parliament magazine, our Policy Team write about the Microbiology Society’s Unlocking the Microbiome report, which outlines opportunities and challenges of microbiome research for health, agriculture, environment and biotechnology, reposted here. Science in Parliament is the magazine of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, which provides a liaison between UK Parliamentarians and scientific bodies, science-based industry and the academic world. The Society is a Member Organisation of the Committee; Society members can request a full copy of Science in Parliament magazine from

Exploring and exploiting microbiomes is a rapidly emerging area of microbiological science and innovation. Dr Paul Richards and Roya Ziaie in the Policy team at the Microbiology Society explain how the Society’s recently published policy report Unlocking the Microbiome identifies opportunities and challenges of microbiome research for health, agriculture and biotechnology.

pairing scheme policy team

Dr Paul Richards, Policy Manager and Roya Ziaie, Policy Officer at the Microbiology Society

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New to Science: May 2018

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which details newly discovered species of bacteria, archaea, microfungi, microalgae and protists. Here are a few of the new species that have been discovered and the places they’ve been found. 

Microbiologists at a Dutch seal rehabilitation centre have found a new species of Campylobacter in the faeces of the common seal. The research group named the species Campylobacter blaseri in honour of Dr Martin J. Blaser.

Glacier of Tibet (Full View)

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Plastic waste: A global problem and an opportunity for microbiology

Public appetite for reducing plastic waste is insatiable following the release of Blue Planet II; a series narrated by David Attenborough and focusing on the impact of human activity on the marine.

At the Microbiology Society’s Annual Conference 2018, delegates heard from Professor Kevin O’Connor, a leading principal investigator at University College Dublin. In his talk ‘Plastic waste: A global problem and an opportunity for microbiology’, he described strategies to reduce plastic waste, consumer confusion and opportunities for the future.

Plastic garbage in the river on sunset, pollution and environment concept

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Déjà flu: can science help the NHS cope with the annual burden of respiratory infections?

Last winter’s flu season was widely covered as having put huge pressure on the NHS, with reports the NHS is being thrown into ‘crisis’. What went wrong? And how can the NHS be supported in the future?

At the Microbiology Society’s Annual Conference 2018, Dr Richard Pebody from Public Health England and Professor Derek Smith from Cambridge University discussed the challenges in predicting which flu strain will spread, and how we can better prepare for the upcoming flu season. During their talk, Déjà flu: can science help the NHS cope with the annual burden of respiratory infections? the speakers explained why the 2017/18 flu season was so ‘tough’, and what the future of flu control might look like.

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Annual Conference 2018: An ECM perspective

Rebecca Hall, Communications Representative for the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum Executive Committee reflects on her experiences at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2018:

The lead up to the Microbiology Society’s Annual Conference 2018 was busy to say the least. As Communications Representative for the ECM Forum, I was involved in various activities. These included writing promotional material for the new committee positions and interviewing Dr Tansy Hammarton ahead of her Peter Wildy Prize Lecture. In what felt like no time, it was the Monday of Conference and I found myself pulling into Birmingham, with my poster and various notes in hand.

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