Showing posts with label @Blastocystis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label @Blastocystis. Show all posts

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2nd International Blastocystis Conference Wrap-Up - Part III

I asked around for some more take-home messages from a couple of the keynote speakers present at the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference last month in Bogotá. Here's a summary:

Kevin Tan:
  • Blastocystis is a species complex and as such, it is difficult to generalize on its roles in health and disease.
  • Studies are revealing that intra-subtype variations are associated with different phenotypes, so it is likely that we will require more resolution (allelic) when studying the effects of Blastocystis on the host.
  • Recent metagenomics studies on stools of healthy individuals associate the presence of Blastocystis with a diverse bacterial microbiota, but more studies are required on diseased groups to identify their possible associations with rare/ pathogenic isolates (e.g. ST7 isolates).
  • Recent work on rodent models are shedding light on possible pathogenic effects of acute Blastocystis infections.
  • More studies on the cell and molecular biology of Blastocystis are required to better understand the molecular basis for Blastocystis-host interactions (identify virulence factors, adaptation strategies etc).
  • It is very likely that more surprises are in store for the curious and observant Blastocystis researcher!

Kevin Tan giving his keynote

Kevin Tan taking questions - here probably expanding on Blastocystis ploidy...



Andrew Roger:
  • We shouldn’t try to generalize about characteristics of ‘Blastocystis’ based on studies of individual isolates. This is a category error — Blastocystis comprises many many different organisms with different genetic makeups. There is variation not just between subtypes, but within subtypes. So we shouldn’t say “Blastocystis is a commensal/parasite” because different Blastocystis isolates could be commensals or parasites depending on the host, the genetic makeup of the parasite and the microbiota with which they interact.
  • In microbiome studies, colonization with Blastocystis in general seems to correlate with a different composition of the prokaryotic microbiota in hosts.
  • We know virtually NOTHING about the basic cell biology of Blastocystis (Kevin Tan’s group is making important inroads into understanding this).
  • We know virtually NOTHING about how Blastocystis interacts with (or responds to) other microbes and the host immune system.
  • There may be an important impact of host diet on Blastocystis colonization and ‘behaviour'.
  • The diversity of Blastocystis in humans and animals is huge — new lineages are being continuously revealed.


Andrew Roger about to give his keynote

Andrew Roger taking questions from the audience

Monday, October 15, 2018

2nd International Blastocystis Conference Wrap-Up - Part I

The 2nd International Blastocystis Conference has been completed with great success. It was a very worthy sequel to the first conference in Ankara back in 2015, attracting about 100 delegates.


The Scientific Committee (image above) consisted of Prof Funda Dogruman-Al (main organiser of the 1st International Blastocystis Symposium), Senior Scientist Rune Stensvold, and Associate Prof Juan-David Ramírez González, who also headed the local organising committee (LOC; image below).



We are all very thankful to Juan-David and his colleagues, the entire LOC, the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá and La Fontana Hotel, which provided an excellent framework with premium facilities.


The Faculty can be seen on the image below. From left to right, it's Rodolfo Casero, [Magdalena Maria Martinez Agüero, Director of Investigation and Innovation, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales Y Matemáticas, Universidad del Rosario], Andrew Roger, Rune Stensvold, Hisao Yoshikawa, Raul Tito Tadeo, Monica Santin-Duran, Funda Dogruman-Al, Kevin Tan, and Juan David Ramirez Gonzalez. Workshop sessions and keynote lectures were developed and given by members of the Faculty.


The workshop took place on 9–10 October and covered sessions on diagnosis (microscopy, culture, PCR, etc.), in vivo and in vitro experimental models, subtype calling from DNA sequence data, gut microbiota analysis (NGS data processing in R), genomics and evolution (introduction to Blastocystis genomics and resources available), and theoretical topics linked to epidemiology, clinical microbiology and infectious disease issues.

Some of the workshop participants and Faculty members

The conference took place on 11–12 October and consisted of nine keynote lectures delivered by the Faculty members, 12 oral presentations and 22 poster presentations.

The award for the best oral presentation was given to Justinn Hamilton who is an ecologist now based at University of Copenhagen for his talk 'Exploring interactions between Blastocystis sp., other intestinal parasites and the gut microbiomes of wild Chimpanzees (Senegal): Not-so-friendly old-friends-hypothesis'.

The award for the best poster presentation went to David Carmena's group for the impressive study 'Molecular epidemiology of Blastocystis sp. in asymptomatic school children from Madrid, Spain'.

The workshop programme can be viewed/downloaded here, and the conference programme is available here. The poster programme is available here.
Please go here to browse conference proceedings, and here for workshop guidelines.
Stay tuned for Wrap Up Part II and III, which will include more photos and some of the take-home messages from the conference.

Please also follow @Blastocystis on Twitter and and the International Blastocystis Network Facebook page for updates/pictures from the conference.