Showing posts with label Conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conference. Show all posts

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dear all,

This is to remind you that the 3rd International Blastocystis Conference (http://blastocystis2021.com) will take place virtually between 2nd to 4th of June 2021 and currently both the registration (http://blastocystis2021.com/registration/) and the abstract submissions are open (http://blastocystis2021.com/abstract-guidelines/), with the deadlines for abstract submission and early-bird registration approaching soon: April 15th, 2021.

Participants from LMICs will receive a 20% discount in their registration fees. Please contact the Conference Secretariat (synedrio@topkinisis.com) to register at the discounted rate.

 For frequent updates, please follow us on twitter: @Blastocystis21 . Please do also spread the word! 

We look forward to seeing you (even virtually) in June 2021.


 

Friday, December 20, 2019

3rd International Blastocystis Conference

I'm extremely pleased to inform you about the launching of the website for the 3rd International Blastocystis Conference in 2021, which can be accessed here.

There is already quite a lot of information on the site, and the website will be developed and updated continously.

One big thing for me would be to try and attract as many students as possible to the conference, since Blastocystis is a remarkable parasite to learn from. It's one of the few parasites that can be cultured (from both humans and animals), and cultures can serve as basis for extensive molecular work.

Another big thing would be to establish a working group that could assist researchers with analysing 'tricky' subtype data.

I'm very thankful to be part of the International Blastocystis Network, and I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone interested in Blastocystis a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2018

Season's Greetings and Best Blastocystis Paper of the Year

The year of 2018 is coming to an end, and what a BLASTO year we had!

The 2nd International Blastocystis Conference was so much more than a worthy sequel to the conference in Ankara in 2015, - it was also the conference that initiated the tradition of having a conference on Blastocystis every three years! And as most of you probably know, the next conference will be in Crete in 2021. More info to follow.

We also had a specific Blastocystis session in ICOPA 2018 in Daegu, South Korea, and I expect that this is also something that we'll see more of in future conferences.

Most exciting Blastocystis-related paper of the year for me is probably the one published by Raul Tito and colleagues in the journal Gut, which is available for free download here. The paper is a good example of the opportunity we have to study Blastocystis across geographical regions and taxonomic kingdoms. I would very much like to re-congratulate Raul on his fantastic work! His work sets an example for all of us.

Everyone, please remember that we have founded the International Blastocystis Network, which is a memeber of World Federation of Parasitology. Please help us come up with ideas as to what it can be used for.

To those of you who celebrate Christmas: Happy Christmas!
And a Happy New Year to everyone!

Rune



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.