The state of the world’s fungi symposium

On 12 September, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew published a comprehensive report on the state of the world’s fungi highlighting the often overlooked importance of this kingdom. To coincide with this, a two-day international symposium was organised. My knowledge of fungi was minimal (other than an appreciation for Portobello mushrooms) and so I was excited to attend and learn more!

The symposium kicked off with a welcome by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Kew who drew attention to some of the key findings in the report and themes that were to recur over the two days. These included the immense diversity of fungi and the relative lack of knowledge compared to animals and plants, the need for fungal conservation, the “Jekyll and Hyde” roles of fungi, and the difficulty in classifying different species.


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Improving the uptake of research into UK policy

In August, the Society supported four members of the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum to attend a two-day course titled ‘Science Policy: Improving the Uptake of Research into UK Policy.’ The course was organised by Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences. Here, participant Maria Howland reflects on what she learnt about engaging in science policy.

‘Scientists are important’ Sarion Bowers, Policy Lead at the Wellcome Sanger Institute tells us as we sit in the conference centre in the beautiful grounds of the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire. As a PhD student who spends most of my time pipetting impossibly small volumes of colourless liquids into one another in the lab, this is a statement which isn’t always immediately apparent. But ‘Science Policy: Improving the Uptake of Research into UK Policy’ was designed to explain why it’s important for scientists to become involved in shaping UK policy and how we can do this.


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9th International Symposium on Testate Amoebae – a view from Twitter

The 9th International Symposium on Testate Amoebae Focused Meeting took place at Riddel Hall, Belfast, UK, between 10–14 September. We’ve turned to Twitter to look at some of the highlights of the meeting. 

Andrew Macumber from the organising committee wished the delegates welcome on Twitter.

The team at Riddel Hall shared some photos of the venue.

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Could household insects be carrying dangerous bacteria?

We all have insects in our homes, be it spiders, flies or bed-bugs. Their presence, although sometimes annoying, is not seen as anything sinister. But what bacteria could the creepy crawlies hiding under the sofa be carrying? 

Federica Boiocchi is a PhD student at Aston University in Birmingham. At the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum Summer Conference which took place in June, Federica won the poster competition with her poster ‘Microbiological analysis of flying insects collected in the hospital environment and antibiotic resistance profiles of isolated bacterial strains.’ Here, she discusses her research in greater detail, and what the she has learned so far during her PhD: 

Federica Boiocchi + poster

Usually people tend to keep a distance from insects, creepy crawlies and bacteria, but this is what my PhD is about…bugs and bugs! And I couldn’t love it more.

My PhD project concerns household arthropods and their bacterial community. Arthropods include insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes and crustaceans, and even if it can seem unexpected, all of these animals can be found inside our homes! We still know very little about arthropods that live indoors.

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Dr Naji Bassil: Life at the Extremes

Microbes can colonise and transform environments that are considered harsh for humans.

This was demonstrated by a team from the University of Manchester’s geomicrobiology group at Bluedot festival in their stall ‘Life at the Extremes’. This music festival, held at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, celebrates science, art and culture. This year, Bluedot was held between 19 and 22 July.

Visitors to the ‘Life at the Extremes’ stall were amazed by the range of environments where microbes have been found, and the diversity of microorganisms in many environments that are considered hostile for life on Earth. For example, Thermus aquaticus was isolated from the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, where the temperature ranges between 50 and 80oC, while Bacillus arseniciselenatis was isolated from Mono Lake in California that shows high pH, salinity and high concentrations of arsenic.


The stall had a variety of activities to appeal to a range of visitors


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Posted in Environmental Microbiology, Events, Grants, Microbial Evolution and Diversity | 1 Comment

Society Showcase, AGM and Young Microbiologist of the Year competition – a view from Twitter

The Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year competition took place on 6 September during the Society Showcase and AGM. We’ve turned to Twitter to look at some of the highlights of the day.

The day started with a networking session for the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum, followed by the Society Showcase where three great speakers shared what they wish they had known when starting their careers in microbiology.

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Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses – a view from Twitter

The Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses Focused Meeting took place at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, UK, between 3–4 September. We’ve turned to Twitter to look at some of the highlights of the meeting. 

This year the timing of the meeting was designed to line up with Avian Immunology Research Group.

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