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January 5 - 9
Nuno Empadinhas, Milton Costa


PDBEB, CNBC/UC, 5-9 January 2009
Coordinators: Nuno Empadinhas/Milton Costa


Monday, 5

11:00 – 12:30 Microbial diversity (Milton Costa)

12:30 – Lunch

14:15 – 16:00 Extremophiles and extreme environments (Milton Costa)

The amazing range of microbial diversity and metabolic versatility continue to challenge our view of the limits for life. New microbial species isolated from environments ranging from deep-sea brines and deserts to boiling hydrothermal vents or perpetually frozen habitats, constantly re-shape the Tree of Life. The outstanding adaptations to such extreme conditions and the impact in our knowledge of biochemistry and cell physiology will be discussed.

Tuesday, 6

10:30 – 12:30 Oil bioremediation (Eliora Ron)

Oil pollution is an increasing environmental problem, for which the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution is bioremediation. This problem will be discussed from several aspects, including hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms, production of biosurfactants and constructing microbial biosensors as monitoring devices and early warning systems.

12:30 – Lunch

14:30 – 16:00 Microbiology of heavy-metal impacted environments and metal resistance (Paula Morais)

Natural or anthropogenic sources of heavy-metal contamination are global environmental concerns. This talk will focus on the microbiology of trace metals in response to changing environments and the cellular strategies to evade metal-deprivation or toxic overload. It will also deal with several aspects of the bacterial orchestration of different systems to obtain a healthy cellular environment.

Wednesday, 7

10:30 – 12:30 Septicemic E. coli: human and avian pathogens (Eliora Ron)

Pathogenic Escherichia coli strains cause intestinal and extraintestinal infections. Intestinal diseases are caused by food-borne strains, which colonize and infect the intestinal epithelium. Extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (EXPEC) may be opportunistic and cause urinary tract infections, newborn meningitis, abdominal sepsis, pneumonia and septicemia. While intestinal strains constitute a major problem in developing countries, the EXPEC strains are now one of the major problems in industrial, developed countries. Due to their high antibiotic resistance they have become a threat in hospitals and institutions. These strains are also important economically, as they cause severe avian diseases that result in enormous damage in the poultry industry. The talk will focus on molecular ways to identify genetic targets for immunization and therapy.

12:30 – Lunch

14:30 – 16:00 MLST, the definitive typing system or the end of the clonal paradigm. Lessons from Legionella pneumophila (António Veríssimo)

Characterization of pathogenic isolates is crucial in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, generating the information for identifying, tracking, and intervening against disease outbreaks. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) was proposed as a universal approach to provide accurate, portable data for the epidemiological investigation of bacterial pathogens, reflecting their evolutionary and population biology. We will explore a simple analysis of Legionella pneumophila population genetics to elucidate and discuss the MLST current paradigm.

16:00 – 17:00 Lab Tour (optional)

Thursday, 8

10:30 – 11:30 Compatible Solutes: Nature’s shields to environmental stress (Nuno Empadinhas)

Compatible solutes (CS) are natural intracellular small organic molecules compatible with metabolism even at molar concentrations. Some are widespread in nature, others are exclusive of extremophiles. A deluge of new applications are emerging, from biotechnology, bioremediation and food science, to dermatology, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer research. The sources, diversity and biosynthesis of some of these molecules and many of their promising applications will be discussed.

11:30 – 11:45 Break

11:45 – 12:30 Versatile and enigmatic compartmentalized bacteria – the Planctomycetes (Joana Costa)

Planctomycetes represent a globally distributed group of bacteria with unusual morphological properties and the largest single source of N2 gas on Earth. Phylogeny based on rRNA sequences places this phylum in the root of Bacteria. Members of this group share peculiar traits, such as a budding mode of reproduction and the lack of peptidoglycan in their cell walls, but the most intriguing feature is the existence of a single or double membrane around the chromosome resembling the eukaryotic nucleus, which sheds light into the origins of complex cellular organization.

12:30 – Lunch

14:15 – 15:00 Mycobacterial polysaccharides as promising targets for TB therapy (Nuno Empadinhas)

Tuberculosis (TB) kills 2 million annually and infects 2 billion worldwide. The available therapies target a surprisingly small number of bacterial functions and the emergence of extensively drug-resistant strains (XDR-TB) urges for the identification of new pathways against which new drugs can be designed. Methylated polysaccharides have been discovered 40 ago and are critical for mycobacterial growth, hence attractive targets for development of new TB drugs. Only now their biosynthetic pathways are being tackled.

14:45 – 15:00 Break

15:00 – 16:00 Time for (the) questions!

16:00 – A practical approach to the microbiology of beer: from Babylon to Westvleteren 12

(When the going gets tough…)

Friday, 9

Morning: Follow my olympic philosophy (Marco Fortes (!)

16:00 Seminar

(José Berenguer, UAM, Madrid)


Milton S. da Costa, Department of Biochemistry and CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Eliora Ron, Dep. of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


Paula Morais, Department of Biochemistry and Instituto Ambiente e Vida, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

António Veríssimo, Department of Zoology and CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Nuno Empadinhas, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Joana Costa, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

José Berenguer, Centro de Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidade Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


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