Showing posts with label 2nd International Blastocystis Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2nd International Blastocystis Conference. 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

Friday, October 19, 2018

2nd International Blastocystis Conference Wrap-Up - Part II

So, a lot of people would like to know about the take-home messages from the recent 2nd International Blastocystis Conference in Bogotá. There were many, and I might develop one more post to make room for more.

The first - and most important - thing I'd like to emphasise is that the community interested in Blastocystis is growing. And we're seeing a clearly multidisciplinary approach to studying the parasite. I think that this is what we need. The initial ideas about having Blastocystis-specific conference were developed by Funda Dogruman-Al and myself, and we both have a background in clinical microbiology. We have realised that in order to make sense of Blastocystis in a clinical microbiology (and infectious disease) context, we need research input from bordering fields, such as biology (genomics, cell biology, etc.), veterinary medicine (host specificity and impact of Blastocystis on animal health), gastroenterology (connection to microbiota and the extent of Blastocystis being involved in functional and inflammatory bowel diseases), bioinformatics (processing NGS data such as those pertaining to the profiling of gut microbiota communities), and ecology (people who are used to study interactions between organisms). At the conference, I believe that all (or at least most) of these fields were represented.

I was also thrilled to realise that many researchers have now adapted to the subtype terminology, - and even the allele terminology appears to be useful and pragmatic.


Status on the Blastocystis genome project. Slide by Andrew Roger.

Andrew Roger highlighted that the genomes of Blastocystis are more different than the genomes of human and mouse! Well-annotated genomes are available for ST1, ST4, and ST7, while draft genomes are available for subtypes 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9. 

 
What use are genomes? Summary provided by Andrew Roger.


Animal experimental modelling is possible. We know that rats can be colonised/infected by Blastocystis ST1 strain from a human and shed cysts in stool for more than one year.

Blastocystis is one of the few parasites that are really easy to culture and easy to get by. If we can learn to induce cysts in culture, these can be separated by sucrose gradient centrifugation or other methods and used for inoculation into volunteers, pigs, or rats, for instance. This can be used to study the impact of Blastocystis on the host, including immune system and gut microbiota. Baseline microbiota profiling is necessary prior to inoculation to know about the background variation in study individuals.

In terms of Blastocystis and gut microbiota: Since we published our conspicuous observations in 2015, many researchers have now corroborated our findings: Blastocystis is typically linked to increased microbiota richness and diversity; - something, which is generally considered a benefit and which is linked not only to gut health, but also to leanness. Especially the negative association between Blastocystis and Bacteroides has been highlighted by many now. It will be very interesting to learn why this is so. It also seems that Blastocystis are more common in individuals with a gut microbiota dominated by strictly anaerobes rather than facultative aerobes.

Faecal microbiota transplantaion (FMT): The recommendation of excluding FMT donors based on the finding of Blastocystis came up many times and was discussed in the context of the microbiota studies. It appear relevant to investigate further whether FMT donors should really be dismissed if they are Blastocystis-positive.

Some of the take home messages from Raul Tito Tadeo's talk.

In many animal groups, Blastocystis is a very common finding. These include mostly omnivores or herbivores. On the contrary, Blastocystis is very rare in strict carnivores, with no consistency in subtype distribution, indicating that these animals are not natural hosts of Blastocystis.The Blastocystis incidentially found in these hosts might stem from the prey that they have eaten.

Finally, I wish to highlight that there are excellent resources available from the pre-conference workshop, including an R script for microbiota analysis, and some tools for Blastocystis genome annotation. Please visit my previous blog post for links to these.

We cannot totally dismiss pathogenicity of Blastocystis; if existing, it may involve both strain- and host-specific factors.

And.... it's out: The time and venue for the 3rd International Blastocystis Conference will be Crete in 2021 (possibly June), with Eleni Gentekaki and Anastasios Tsaousis being involved in both the scientific and local organising committees... ! Please mark you calendars!

Andrew Roger, Raul Tito Tadeo, Kevin Tan and myself (taking the picture) enjoying some Club Colombia.


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.

Monday, October 1, 2018

2nd International Blastocystis Conference just around the corner!

Need I remind you that the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference is just around the corner!

You can find an updated list of speakers and the entire programme here.

It will be a total of 4 (f-o-u-r!!) days of discussion of Blastocystis research and sharing of experience in terms of e.g. diagnostics, typing, and genome sequencing.

We'll be covering most areas, including clinical and public health significance, host specificity, genetic diversity, genomics, metagenomics/amplicon-based sequencing, Blastocystis in the clinical microbiology setting, etc. And of course there will be a lot of survey data.

Need I say that I look forward to this?

:-)

I hope to see quite a few of you in Bogotá!

Please follow the International Blastocystis Network (IBN) on Facebook and @Blastocystis on Twitter. We will be posting there during the conference....

(IBN stimulates and promotes activities related to research in Blastocystis. IBN is a member of the World Federation of Parasitologists)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The International Blastocystis Network (IBN) becomes a member of the World Federation of Parasitologists

The International Blastocystis Network (IBN) becomes a member of World Federation of Parasitologists (WFP).
For the past few years, the Blastocystis community has been increasingly organised and proficient, as evidenced by the international meetings organised so far. And two years ago, the first special issue dedicated to Blastocystis research in a scientific journal was published in Parasitology International.
Therefore, it's time to formalise this network to further stimulate and promote activities related to Blastocystis research and to secure and expand interest in the series of meetings, which are currently held every third year.
At ICOPA 2018 in Daegu, Korea, IBN was registered officially as a member society of World Federation of Parasitologists (http://www.wfpnet.org/).
The network is currently headed by Prof Funda Dogruman-Al, Prof Kevin Tan, Dr Juan-David Ramirez, and Dr Rune Stensvold, and its management and leadership will be further developed in the upcoming meeting in October in Colombia.
IBN is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iBlastoNet/) and also on Twitter: @blastocystis

Please follow and support us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Updates on 2nd International Blastocystis Conference

Three months until kick-off of 2nd International Blastocystis Conference in Bogotá!

A couple of updates:

  • Abstract submission deadline has been postponed to 15th of August 2018
  • We have had a couple of speaker cancellations. Drs Pauline Scanland and Katerina Pomajbikova will not be able to participate. Hopefully, we'll be blessed by their presence at the next big Blasto event. Instead, Drs Raul Tito-Tadeo and Hisao Yoshikawa have very kindly accepted to give keynote lectures and lead workshop sessions. And so we will still have a great event!
For more information on workshop and conference, please visit the official conference website here.

Since it's summer here in Europe, and since I love Phlox, I thought, I'd attach a couple of images that I received yesterday from my dear friend Jaco Verweij.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Updates on 2nd International Blastocystis Conference in Bogotá!

Hi everyone,

There's only little more than three months before the kick-off of our 2nd International Blastocystis Conference! And as in the case of our 1st conference in Ankara in 2015, participants are in for a real treat! I simply don't know where to begin... !



Well, for starters, here's the hotel in which the conference will take place (11–12 October). It's the Hotel Estelar La Fonata in Bogotá! I think it looks amazing!

Prior to the very conference (9–10 October), there will be a two-day workshop at Universidad del Rosario - Quinta De Mutis.

Please go to the conference website and find more information: http://www.urosario.edu.co/Blastocystis/en/home/

The line-up of faculty members is impressive; again, please visit website to update yourself with workshop leaders and keynote speakers.

We will be dealing with anything from diagnostics to genomics, from epidemiology to cell biology, from experimental models to phylogenetics!

There will be plenty of Colombian coffee to sample and you might also with to sign up for the gala dinner!

So, don't miss out on the opportunity to put yourself into the very epicentre of Blastocystis research and experience the dynamic city of Bogotá!

Importantly, the deadline for abstract submission is 1st of July, so please everyone: Get your act together - submit your abstract today and support us with your presence and your enthusiasm with regard to the most common parasite in the human gut: Blastocystis!

SEE YOU THERE!!!

Image result for sun emoji

Friday, October 13, 2017

Official Poster for the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference

Thanks to Juan-David Ramirez Gonzales and his colleauges, the official poster for the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference is now available.

I put it on Google Drive as a pdf file, which you can download here. Please share it on facebook. Please also print it and use it to adorn your institutes, hospital departments, offices, canteens, homes, etc... Thanks!



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Website for 2nd International Blastocystis Conference is now live!

I'm happy to be able to point your attention towards the website for the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference in Bogotá in October 2018. You can access the website here.

On this site, you'll find information about the venue, the preliminary programme, speakers, registration, and sponsors. You will also find some information about Bogotá.

Please visit the website on a regular basis for potential updates/changes.

See you there!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's official - The 2nd International Blastocystis Conference!

It's been a while, but I hope the wait has been worth the while!

On behalf of the organisers, who currently include Juan-David Ramírez, Funda Dogruman-Al, and myself, we would now like to announce the dates, venue, and speakers for the 2nd International Blastocystis Conference! Feel free to be mesmerised!

Juan-David Ramírez just sent me the 'teaser' below - and this blog is an obvious place to share it.
We are very happy that so many "heavy Blastocystis researchers" have accepted our invitation to participate! However, we already now know that we will be missing some very important ones. Well, you can't have it all, and we're absolutely sure that the event will be a BLAST(ocystis)!




There will be a two-day workshop (9th–10th of October) followed by a two-day conference (11th–12th of October). On the Friday, the 13th of October, it will be possible to participate in a one-day sightseeing event in Bogotá.

So, if you haven't done it already, make sure that you sign up for notifications from the Blastocystis Parasite Blog (here or on Facebook) in order to keep up with the latest information on abstract submission deadlines, programme, practicalities, travel grants, etc.

We are also on the lookout for sponsors, so if you have any suggestions, please contact me.

We are looking very much forward to seeing you in Bogotá in 2018!