Summer Workshop on Microbial Phys. News

crawford at bscr.uga.edu crawford at bscr.uga.edu
Wed Nov 8 00:37:17 EST 1995


THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA  SUMMER WORKSHOP IN MICROBIAL PHYSIOLOGY (SWMP):
THE ONE THAT WAS AND THE ONE THAT WILL BE

        From 9 July to 5 August 1995, a group of twenty intrepid explorers
enjoyed (braved?) summertime  in Athens, GA, while  learning the art and
science of microbiology. This inaugural class of the NSF-sponsored Summer
Workshop in Microbial Physiology 1995 (SWMP'95)  included participants
from as far away as Finland and Belgium as well as  from  16 different US
states  and Canada.   Their subjects for the 4-week course  were two
bacteria chosen as the summer's "model systems" for study: the archeon
Methanococcus maripaludis  and the plant pathogen, Pseudomonas
solanacearum.  These two organisms  were chosen  because while
exemplifying  the great  diversity of the prokaryotic world  each is also
susceptible to physiological, biochemical, genetic, and molecular genetic
manipulation. Each of these microbes also has, in very distinct ways,
current and long-term economic significance.

        UGA faculty member  Barny Whitman, lead instructor for the methanogens
component,  was assisted by visiting faculty  Mary Roberts (Boston
College), Ken Jarrell (Queens Univ.), Neil Schauer (Genetics Institute,
Inc), and Albrecht Klein (Marburg Univ.) in lectures and laboratory
exercises including  anaerobic techniques used in the cultivation and
quantitation of methanogens including 100 liter fermentor scale
production of cells, 13C-NMR analysis  of amino acid pools under
differing growth conditions,  genetic manipulations including DNA
isolation and transformation, and the use of 14C-acetate to explore
pseudo-auxotrophy.    UGA faculty member Tim Denny was the lead
instructor for the plant pathogenesis component and was assisted by
visiting faculty Carol Bender (Oklahoma State), Joyce Loper (USDA,
Corvallis), and Steven Farrand (Univ. of Illinois).   Investigations in
bacterial genetics and plant pathognesis  included de novo isolation and
physiological characterization of "P-sol" mutants altered in production
of exopolysaccharide, a virulence factor.  Genetic characterization of
these EPS mutants was followed by  examination of their local and
systemic effects in whole plants.  The use of gene fusions was also
employed to explore global gene regulation in "P-sol" and to examine
cell-cell signalling compounds elaborated by naturally occurring
bacterial isolates.   Teaching assistance was provided by the seven
graduate  trainees currently supported by the NSF-Research Training Grant
which underwrites the SWMP, an interdisciplinary  doctoral training
program,  and a summer undergraduate research program.

        In addition to  presentations by   UGA and visiting faculty,  the
participants also presented posters or  seminars on the  research
projects they are carrying out in their home institutions. Here as well,
diversity was the hallmark,  as graduate students in  civil and
environmental engineering,  chemistry or microbiology,  faculty members
from small colleges, government researchers (both US and foreign), and a
federal research program director  taught each other and the "designated"
faculty  about the microbial contribution to soil porosity,    catalase
in anaerobes,  protein folding in thermophiles,   microbial communities
in Antarctic lakes, and licensing microbes for field release among many
other things.

        Interspersed with the science were R&R activities including several
picnics at UGA's Lake Herrick one of which was held jointly with
participants in another NSF-sponsored summer program, the Inorganic
Biochemistry Summer Workshop (IBSW'95). This latter event was
highlighted by a breathtaking sudden-death victory by the SWMP'95 
team in the First Annual Summer Science Volleyball Challenge (the Tug-O-War was
won by the IBSW'95 team, but they outweighed us....). Other
kickback high points were a whitewater canoe/raft trip on the Broad 
River, an Atlanta Braves game, and hiking in the North Georgia 
mountains, as well as a semi-regular evening seminar  series (with 
field trips) concerning whether Athens  (still) deserves to be 
considered the rock'n'roll capital of the world.

         SWMP'95 alumnae/i will gather at the General Meeting of the 
ASM in New Orleans in May 1996  (exact date, time and place, TBA) to
reminisce and catchup. By that time the new class will have been 
selected and are also welcome to join the veterans. For the incoming 
group, SWMP'96  (which will meet  August 7-30, after the Olympians 
leave Athens) will hold explorations of two new model organisms: 
Myxococcus xanthus, with its complex life cycle (Larry Shimkets, lead
instructor) and the insect pathogen, Bacillus thuringiensis (Mike Adang,
lead instructor), each chosen as experimentally malleable examples of the
great diversity of the prokaryotic world. Each microbe also has larger
importance in either fundamental and/or applied microbiology.  Both
instructors will be assisted by visiting faculty from other institutions.  For
additional information  and applications for SWMP'96 (deadline is 15
March 1996) and for other programs of the Research Training Group in
Prokaryotic Diversity contact:

Robin Krause, Program Administrator
NSF Research Training Group in Prokaryotic Diversity
Department of Microbiology
527 Biological Sciences Building
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-2605
Voice: 706-542-2045
FAX: 706-542-2674
Internet: mibrtg at uga.cc.uga.edu
WWW: http://alpha.marsci.uga.edu/gradRTG.html





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