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Event Date: 
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 15:30 - 16:00
Institution: 
University of California Davis
Title: 

Stress, function and community dynamics in wastewater bioreactors

Abstract: 

Biological wastewater treatment plants receive a complex mixture of chemicals and are operated based on principles of general microbial growth kinetics. Regulated effluent criteria determine the extent of treatment required to achieve removal of chemical oxygen demand and nutrients like reduced nitrogen and phophate. Plants are, however, not designed to metabolize specific (micro)pollutants, and the factors influencing the emergence of microbial communities that are tolerant of or have evolved to metabolize and remove toxic compounds are poorly understood. Basic questions in wastewater engineering include ‘What affects the dynamics of wastewater microbial communities?’  and ‘Are communities ever stable and if so does this matter for basic processes like removal of organics and nutrients?’.  
We investigated the impact of defined and sustained chemical stress on wastewater microbial communities and their functions, using the highly toxic and recalcitrant compound 3-chloroaniline (3-CA) as model stressor. Experimental design included replicate bioreactors, sterile synthetic feed, ambient levels of 3-CA, and fixed factors like bioaugmentation and temperature. Process outcomes varied from no removal of 3-CA to complete removal within three weeks. Community changes were dramatic and nitrification was a key function affected by the stressor. Finally, microbial diversity indices based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing or T-RFLP, combined with influent nutrient concentrations, were used to predict effluent concentrations using support vector regression, a machine learning model. Sensitivity analysis of a preliminary dataset for a full-scale water reclamation plant would suggest that evenness is the most significant input variable for the prediction of soluble COD, nitrate and ammonium concentrations in the effluent. Overall, we show that both detailed analysis of taxonomy and gene expression and general indices of diversity are useful for understanding the link between stable process performance and microbial communities.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 18:15 - 18:30
Institution: 
University of New South Wales
Title: 

Virus-host interactions in extreme environments, hot versus cold

Event Date: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 18:00 - 18:15
Institution: 
University of New South Wales
Title: 

Biomining and methanogenesis for resource extraction from asteroids

Abstract: 

As spacecraft fuel is a limited resource, creating a readily available source for hydrocarbon-based fuels in space will reduce launch cost and increase operating time of spacecraft. Biomethanation is viable for Earth-based operations, thus applications in space under controlled conditions have potential. This study proposes a sustainable environment for methanogens on Near-Earth Objects. Vacuum and desiccation effects, at 0.025% Earth atmospheric pressure, are conducted on three bacterial and three Archaea strains to test post-exposure viability. Cell degradation and colony size reduction was quantified for aerobic strains. Adverse effects were exhibited more so in gram-negative than gram-positive strains. Archaea showed limited to no cell degradation, providing evidence that vacuum effects, at these pressures, will have minor effects on in-situ biofuel operations. If successful, a sustainable and cost-effective method of metal extraction and producing methane based fuel reservoirs could revolutionise in-situ resource and fuel resupply of spacecraft, thus enhancing spacefaring capabilities.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 19:00 - 19:45
Institution: 
University of Sydney
Title: 

The use of genomics in diagnostic and public health microbiology

Abstract: 

Since 2004 technological advances have enabled us to sequence more nucleic acid and generate more data in a shorter amount of time. Decreases in cost per nucleotide sequenced, the initial price of sequencing machines and the complexity of library construction means that whole genome sequencing (WGS) is available in many research labs and an increasing number of public health microbiology labs. I will examine the use of WGS in public health microbiology, particularly the possibility of investigating organisms without culture, the interrogation of genomes where PCR may be unavailable, outbreak investigation, tracking resistance mutations and novel pathogen discovery.

Registration is now available!

The 4th Annual JAMS Symposium will be held on Wednesday the 25th of February 2015 at the Australian Museum followed by an evening meal amongst the dinosaurs. We have a fantastic guest speaker line up for the symposium including Colin Murrell, Stefan Wuertz, Lisa Moore and Kat Holt. We promise no less than a night to remember.

Attention students! There is a student poster session with a prize of $500 for the winner.

The symposium and dinner will be preceded by a two day workshop (23rd - 24th February) also at the museum. The main purpose being to introduce postgrads and early career postdocs to current approaches used in scruitinising microbial community and genomic datasets. 

This year's workshop is hands-on and will require a 64bit laptop with a minimum of 2GB of memory. Attendees will also need to install VirtualBox. Workshop registration cost is $290.

Registration and payment for both events is being provided through EventBrite. Please follow the links provided below.

Register for the 4th Annual Symposium and Dinner.

Register for the 2014 TOAST Workshop

 

A commemorative t-shirt is available on registration for either event, the design can be seen in the attachment below and at registration time.

Thanks everyone who turned up for the final JAMS of 2014. Great presentations, quality beer and pizza and that special JAMS hummm that fills a room. Looking to the future 2015 will be a big year. We have our fourth annual symposium on the 25th of February with a stellar line up of guest speakers, along with the bioinformatics/biostatistics workshop from the 23rd-24th Feb. Also by March we should have the TOF-SIMS up and running at UNSW. Finally, in the new year and based on the JAMS Inc network we will be launching the Australian Microbial Biotechnology Alliance (AMBA) to unite researchers in this space and increase lobbying capacity for large funding opportunities. Thanks again everyone for a fantastic year. Have a great break and we'll see you in 2015.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 19:00 - 19:45
Institution: 
UNSW
Title: 

“The microbial friends and foes of seaweeds”

Abstract: 

 

Seaweeds (macroalgae) form a diverse and ubiquitous group of photosynthetic organisms that play an essential role in many aquatic ecosystems, yet till recently very little was understood with respect to their associated microbiota. We now know that macroalgae are home to a diverse community of microorganisms, that display both temporal and spatial variation yet remain distinct from the surrounding seawater. Symbiotic interactions between marine microorganisms and macroalgae can have both positive (e.g. providing nutrients and morphogenic cues or protection from biofouling) and negative (e.g. disease) outcomes for the host. This talk will give an overview of the microorganisms typically associated with macroalgae with a focus on the bacterial symbionts. Details of how bacteria successfully colonize macroalgal hosts will be discussed with specific examples of the functional role of microbial epiphytes in macroalgal health (including disease) highlighted from a “holobiont” perspective.

 

Event Date: 
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 18:15 - 18:30
Institution: 
QAAFI
Title: 

Plant Cell Wall Breakdown in Complex Ecosystems

Abstract: 

Plant cell walls in e.g. whole grains, fruits and vegetables are a major source of dietary fibre (DF) in human diets. Cellulose is a key DF component, and its fermentation in the large intestine also contributes to the extent of nutritional benefits to the host. However our understanding of which microbes actively ferment cellulose in the complex gut environment is minimal. Here we report on the use of isotopically-labelled cellulose as a route to defining microbial fermentation in a complex ecosystem. The ability of the Gram-negative, obligately aerobic, rod-shaped bacteriumGluconacetobacter xylinus, to produce extracellular cellulose in simple fermentation experiments, in the presence of a 13C-labelled carbon source, was exploited to make isotopically labelled cellulose. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) showed no differences in micro-architecture and crystallinity between native and isotopically labelled bacterial cellulose. Fermentability was assessed by an in vitro batch culture system, where anaerobic fermentations with either a pig faecal slurry or minimal medium with a 1: 5 diluted pig faecal inoculum were carried out.  The gas production kinetics was recorded and end-products were analysed. Results indicated that 13C did not alter the fermentability of bacterial cellulose. We are now carrying out DNA-stable isotope probing coupled with high-throughput sequencing, to provide direct information on which microbes from the porcine faecal inoculum actively ferment the substrates. Ultimately, combining such studies will identify mechanisms of plant cell wall breakdown in the human nutritional context and allow for the understanding of gut microbiota responses to molecularly-defined dietary changes.

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