At the 75th Mosbacher Kolloquium of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) the organizers Jörg Vogel (Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research, Würzburg), Ruth Ley (MPI for Biology, Tübingen) and Nassos Typas (EMBL, Heidelberg) aim to highlight recent advances in our abilities to characterize and manipulate complex microbiomes. For example, our own microbiome comprises a vast array of microbes, with the gut alone harboring more than 1,000 bacterial species. The complex interactions between this large collection of commensal bacteria colonizing the gut, pathogens, and our immune system, have a major impact on human wellbeing. What we need is a better understanding of the individual or synergistic contributions of gut bacteria to human health and disease. We also need to advance our abilities to modulate the functions of these microbes. Beyond the human body, there are many other microbial communities in/on plants, animals, and entire ecosystems whose importance is about to emerge.
Numerous cutting-edge systematic technologies have been developed in the last few years, which solve many of the bottlenecks that prevented us from studying the vast number of non-model microbes found in natural communities in the past. High-throughput cultivation and identification approaches are revolutionizing our ability to systematically identify members of a community, build large species and strain collections, and cultivate stable complex communities. These resources are complemented by new systems-based microbiology approaches, high-content phenotyping, and novel genetic tools, which all provide ways to gain unparalleled insights into gene function and organization, and to study community behaviors. Computational and AI-based approaches (e.g., structural predictions) are changing our ability to predict protein function and interactions, whereas advanced in situ structural biology (e.g., CryoEM tomography) enable us to see novel macromolecular complexes from non-model species in action. Last, our ability to follow individual gut species within the host, study their interactions and evolution and record their traits has exponentially increased in the last years. Overall, such technologies have opened a new window for studying the diverse functional roles microbes play in natural environments, in our body, as well as in biomedical settings, and for deciphering the causative genetic elements that enable these functionalities.
The organizers have devised the Mosbacher Kolloquium 2024 in a way that it covers all important aspects of current research on the human microbiome and more. Invited speakers will reflect the whole breadth of the field ranging from cutting-edge technologies to preclinical applications. Each of the five sessions starts with a broad 10-minute introduction by the chair. The chair shows conceptual connections between the talks and highlights the impact of the topic of interest for a broad audience. The introduction is followed by 3-5 scientific talks. Each session includes a short “Early Career Talk” by a postdoctoral scientist, who has published at least one first author paper during their PhD.
The Mosbacher Kolloquium 2024 also aims to provide an overview for young scientists with different backgrounds, inspiring them to venture into microbiome research. The Junior-GBM was actively involved in organizing the conference, including the organization of a session with two excellent speakers within session 5: First, Ilana Brito uses systems biology approaches to study the transmission of bacterial and genetic components of the human microbiome. Second, Kiran R. Patil aims to discover and model complex (xeno-)metabolic networks emerging in the gut microbiota. His aim is to gain mechanistic insights into microbiome-mediated toxicity.
Another important part of the meeting will be short talks by early career researchers that were selected among the submitted abstracts. The program further includes three poster sessions providing an opportunity for PhD students and postdocs to present and discuss their research with international experts. Besides, the Junior-GBM will organize ‘Meet the Prof’ sessions, a platform for informal discussion between junior and well-established scientists (the GBM prize awardees).
Taken together, the Mosbacher Kolloquium 2024 will cover a broad range of topics in one of the most rapidly developing areas of molecular biology and medicine. The agenda boasts a collection of the most eminent figures in the field, who reflect the whole breadth of microbiome research from cutting-edge technologies to preclinical applications.
And the award goes to...
During the Mosbacher Kolloquium, the GBM will award three prizes for young researchers: The Bayer Pharmaceuticals PhD Award and the GBM PhD Award (both endowed with 1,500 euros), as well as the Otto Meyerhof Award for an outstanding young scientist, jointly awarded with Boehringer Ingelheim and endowed with 5,000 euros.
GBM’s Feodor Lynen Medal will be awarded to Julia Vorholt (Zurich, CH) during the Kolloquium. The primary interest of her laboratory is to learn how bacterial physiology is shaped by the environment with a focus on the plant microbiota. At the Mosbacher Kolloquium she will talk about “Reverse engineering of plant microbiomes”.
Last but not least, the GBM, together with the sponsor Elsevier and its journal BBA, will award its prestigious Otto Warburg Medal to Johannes Buchner of the Technical University of Munich. He will receive the award in recognition of his fundamental contributions to protein structure formation and the role of Chaperones.
Symposia and speakers
Microbiome in human health and disease
- Tami Lieberman, Cambridge, USA
- Maria Vehreschild, Frankfurt, DE
- Francesca Odoardi, Göttingen, DE
- Dirk Haller, München, DE
Biochemical reactions in the human microbiome
- Laurie Comstock, Chicago, USA
- Hannes Link, Tübingen, DE
- Michael Zimmermann, Heidelberg, DE
- Julia Vorholt (Feodor Lynen Lecture), Zürich, CH
Microbial networks and the diversity of their functions
- Ute Hentschel, Kiel, DE
- Amy Bhatt, Stanford, USA
- Peer Bork, Heidelberg, DE
- Harris Wang, New York. USA
Microbiome’s impact on host-pathogen interactions
- Bärbel Stecher, München, DE
- Fiona Powrie, Oxford, UK
- Till Strowig, Braunschweig, DE
Modulation, composition and functions of the microbiome
- Lisa Maier, Tübingen, DE
- KC Huang, Stanford, USA
- Karina Xavier, Oeiras, PT
- Andrew Goodman, New Haven, USA
- Ilana Brito, Ithaca, USA
- Kiran R. Patil, Cambridge, UK
Otto Warburg Lecture
- Johannes Buchner, München, DE