Once again, the annual MSI Symposium will feature eight prominent microbial scientists representing a wide variety of disciplines, four from Harvard and four from other institutions. This all-day event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Radcliffe Gymnasium at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies on the Cambridge campus.
Symposium topics reflect the enormous value MSI places on interdisciplinary research. At this yearís event, Harvardís own Jack Szostak will discuss the origin of cellular life and the emergence of Darwinian evolution. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a faculty member at the New York University School of Medicine, will provide an anthropological prospective on microbiota. From Harvardís School of Public Health, Wendy Garrett will talk about how the microbiota influences oneís health/disease state. Jorge Galán (Yale University School of Medicine) will take a look at the unique biology of Salmonella typhi. One of MSIís original faculty members, Andy Knoll, will reveal the history of life written in stone by stromatolites. Tom Schmidt, who recently joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, will discuss the microbial ecology of low oxygen environments. Harvardís Dan Kahne will talk about his research on the biogenesis of the cell envelope. The regulatory role at the membrane by previously ignored small proteins will be presented by Gisela Storz from the National Institutes of Health.
This 10th annual MSI Symposium will begin on April 13th at 8:30 am with a light breakfast followed by the lecture series. The audience is free to explore the Harvard Square area for lunch from 12:00 until 2:00 pm. At 5:00 pm the MSI is hosting a catered reception for symposium speakers and participants. We hope that you will join us for what is our largest event of the year, aimed at stimulating discussion among members of the scientific community and strengthening integrative science programs.
Even though bacteria are not multicellular, they are known to have evolved an adaptive immune system, called CRISPR/Cas. This system targets and destroys specific DNA sequences from foreign, dangerous sources, such as viruses that infect bacteria, called bacteriophages. MSI affiliate Steve Calderwood and colleagues found that, in a "remarkable turn of events," a bacteriophage that infects V. cholerae actually has its own CRISPR/Cas system that allows it to avoid the immune defenses of V. cholerae and lead to lytic infection of the bacteria.
Researchers in the lab of MSI faculty associate Adam Cohen have characterized the mechanism and properties of a bacterial rhodopsin that fluoresces at different wavelengths based on the bacterial membrane’s voltage. This understanding will help in designing better voltage-sensitive rhodopsins that will enable scientists to visualize dynamic changes in membrane voltage in individual cells and in collective groups. Visualization of membrane voltage using rhodopsins has broad applications, such as allowing researchers to probe the dynamics of neurons and cardiac cells.
Information about constructs from the Cohen Lab for expressing microbial rhodopsin can be found here:
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MSI affiliate Curtis Huttenhower and colleagues have developed a novel tool to detect and quantify the species composition of diverse, clinically-relevant bacterial communities. This tool, called the BactoChip, is a microarray containing targets for species-specific genes of 54 species of bacteria. A proof of concept experiment was able to detect the species present in the human oral microbiome.
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