Microbes in the Spotlight: ASM 2014

Earlier this week, thousands of microbiologists descended on Boston for the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. The Sage Science team was thrilled to be part of the festivities. Many thanks to all of the scientists who visited our booth to learn more about targeted DNA sizing with Pippin and whole-sample fractionation with our new SageELF.

Genomics has steadily increased its presence at ASM over the years. At this meeting, many of the researchers we spoke with were using next-gen sequencers to learn more about their bugs of interest. We heard from many PacBio users interested in improving their average read lengths with Pippin, and from Illumina users eager to construct libraries with multiple insert sizes to generate a better assembly.

There were some general themes at this year’s ASM, including emerging pathogens, big data, and of course the challenge of studying microbes that can’t be cultured. Experts predicted the next pathogen global threats, and one team noted that microbes can live for a week or longer on surfaces found in any airplane. (We’ll be flying in full hazmat suits from now on, thank you very much.) Scientists including George Church and Joachim Messing spoke about the increasing need to merge massive data sets and study them in combination. And several researchers reported on how the “dark matter” of the microbial world, or the organisms that are uncultivable, appear to be impacted by climate change and other stressors. We also heard about the world’s first stool bank designed for fecal transplants, and learned that urine is not bacteria-free, as we always thought it was.

And now it’s back to our regular jobs. It was great to hang out with the microbiology crowd — we’re already looking forward to ASM 2015!

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