Scientific Program

Day 1 :

  • Advancement in Medical Microbiology | Microbial Biotechnology

Session Introduction

John F. Alderete

Washington State University, USA

Title: The Perfect Serodiagnostic Target: Trichomonas Vaginalis STD As Model
Speaker
Biography:

Dr. Alderete received his PhD from The University of Kansas in 1978 at the age of 28. He did postdoctoral research at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for 30 years before taking a positon at Washington State University. He has published 140 scientific articles and 63 book chapters, invited articles, and press releases. His work has been presented at 157 scientific conferences, and he has given seminars at 90 colleges and universities worldwide. He has served in National Institutes of Health Study Sections, Boards of Scientific Counselors, and National Advisory Councils. He has been a member of several National Academy of Medicine panels.

Abstract:

A rapid, sensitive and accurate serodiagnostic for the number one, non-viral sexually transmitted infection caused by Trichomonas vaginalis is needed for screening both women and men. Such a test will also permit determining the true incidence and prevalence of this STI. Presently there exists the invasive antigen-detection OSOM™ Trichomonas Rapid Test (Seskui Diagnostics)—a lateral flow, immuno-chromatographic Point-of-Care test that works only for women. During the course of our investigations of the relation between T. vaginalis and prostate cancer, we obtained sera from women and men highly reactive to the highly immunogenic trichomonad protein α-actinin protein unique to this protist. IgG to this protein was not detected among uninfected controls. The availability of sera allowed us to test the hypothesis that the identification of epitopes to other immunogenic proteins of T. vaginalis would permit the construction of novel, chimeric recombinant proteins that would be a perfect target for a serum IgG diagnostic for both women and men. We then identified the immunogenic metabolic enzymes fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase (A), α-enolase (E), and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydro-genase (G). Some epitopes of these enzymes were found to have little or no sequence identity to other eukaryotes, yeasts, and microbial pathogens. We constructed a new version of an earlier chimeric recombinant String-Of-Epitopes (SOE) protein consisting of 15-mer peptides within which were epitopes of A, E, and G. This chimeric protein, now referred to as AEG::SOE2, was detected by ELISA with highly reactive sera of women and men, but not control, negative serum lacking antibody to T. vaginalis. This approach lends itself to the creation of highly specific immunogenic targets for both detection of serum antibody in patients, and such targets may also be future subunit vaccine candidates.

Speaker
Biography:

Anna Krasowska is an assistant professor at the Department of Biotransformation, University of Wroclaw, Poland. Currently involved in the isolation and characterization of biosurfactants produced by arctic microorganisms. She has also examined the activity of lipases and proteases released into the environment by microorganisms isolated from different environments. Her research interests lie in multidrug resistance of pathogenic microorganisms like Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeastand Candida albicans.

Abstract:

Candida albicans is a pathogenic yeast-like fungus that causes exo- and endogenous infections. C. albicans strains exhibit multidrug-resistance to commonly used antifungal agents which correlates with overexpression of Cdr and Mdr efflux pumps located in the plasma membrane. Growing resistance of pathogenic C. albicans strains to many classes of antifungal drugs has stimulated efforts to find new agents to combat more invasive infections. A selected number of probiotic organisms, Saccharomyces boulardii among them, have also been tested as potential biotherapeutic agents. S. boulardii is a yeast strain that has been shown to have applications in the prevention and treatment of intestinal infections caused by microbial pathogens. We have similarly shown that S. boulardii secretes capric acid (C10:0), which is most effective in inhibiting essential virulence factors of C. albicans, especially morphological transition, partial adhesion, as well as biofilm formation.

Our latest research on the mechanism of action of capric acid and its influence on the C. albicans’ cells clearly show its interaction with the plasma membrane. Capric acid decreases fluidity, while increasing the potential of the plasma membrane. For these reasons, we have probably not observed antifungal activity of amphotericin B in the presence of capric acid. The antagonism between capric acid and amphotericin B is a strong indication for physicians to not use both compounds simultaneously in the treatment of candidiasis.

Speaker
Biography:

Marcin Lukaszewicz is working as Associate Professor in the department of Biotransformations, University of Wroclaw, Poland. He is involved in field of biotransformations. He has dome many projects related to his feild of interest and is currently involved in biotransformations from bacteria.

Abstract:

The most effective holistic approach of circular economy based on biotransformation of the agricultural biomass, which has been developed in the last few years, is the concept of biorefineries. In the biorefinery approach assuming zero waste, each process stream is exploited to the full through careful fractionation to produce commercially valuable products or through reuse of by-products and wastes. The biorefinery approach has already been introduced to this area through a consideration of biodiesel and bioethanol, but very interesting seems multitude of other application especially in green chemistry to obtain high value added compounds. The main objective of the recent study is construction of demonstration plant focused on possibilities using GRAS microorganisms such as Bacillus subtilis in biotransformation meal remaining after oil extraction from oilseeds and subsequent fractionation. The realisation of the demonstration biorefinery requires multidisciplinary approach and development of several dedicated methods such as solid state fermentation (SSF), fractionation using ecologically friendly solvents such as super critical carbon dioxide, centrifugal partition chromatography. Recent advances of the project will be presented.

  • Microbial Biofilms | Pharmaceutical Microbiology
Speaker
Biography:

Hazem Sawalha has his expertise in Microbiology and Biotechnology. He has 21 published articles in national and international journals in addition to 15 articles published in international journals and proceedings of conferences. He is working in the department of Biology and Biotechnology at The Arab American University/ Palestine since 2004. He is promoted to full professor in 2016.

Abstract:

Antibacterial activity of some Palestinian plants against seven human pathogenic bacteria using the agar disk-diffusion method was studied. Based on the width of the zone inhibition, Eucalyptus camaldulensis (0.3 cm), Allium sativum (0.2 cm), Ceratonia siliqua (0.15 cm) and Amygdalus communis(0.15 cm) revealed the best antibacterial activities against the bacterial mixture compared with the rest of the assayed plants. Furthermore, E. camaldulensis showed the strongest antimicrobial activity among the four plants. Also, A. sativum have the maximum anti-microbial action against all types of the tested bacteria. In addition, saps of E. camaldulensis and the mixture of E. camaldulensis and A. sativum have a strong ability to kill all types of the tested bacteria followed by the mixture of C. siliqua and A. sativum, the mixture of C. siliqua, A. sativum and E. camaldulensis and the mixture of A. communis, A. sativum and E. camaldulensis that have significant results as anti-microbial agents against most types of the tested bacteria. The results showed that A. sativum and the mixture of A. sativum and C. siliqua have the maximum antimicrobial affectivity against Staphylococcus aureus, whereas, Micrococcus luteus was strongly inhibited by E. camaldulensis, A. sativum, the mixture of E. camaldulensis and C. siliqua, the mixture of E. camaldulensis and A. sativum, and the mixture of E. camaldulensis, A. sativum and C. siliqua.  Escherichi. coli was efficiently inhibited by A. communis, A. sativum, and E. camaldulensis and also by the mixture of A. sativum and E. camaldulensis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was inhibited in a significant amount by E. camaldulensis and A. sativum, whereas, Proteus vulgaris was strongly inhibited by the A. sativum. Bacillus subtilis was strongly inhibited by A. sativum, while, for the Klebsiella pneumoniae, most saps revealed an intermediate inhibition except the A. communis, which showed the lowest inhibition value.

Therefore, the current study elucidated that E. camaldulensis, A. sativum, C. siliqua and A. communis are the best tested Palestinian plants containing the antibacterial agents against the tested bacterial types.

  • Young Researchers Forum

Session Introduction

Diana Martinez

Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Title: Evaluation of antimicrobial peptides in fermented breast milk
Speaker
Biography:

Abstract:

The antibiotic resistance is a world problem due to genetic modification of microorganisms rendering them ineffective. This increases the spread of infections in the population, and it has become an alarming public health problem. A promising solution to solve this problem is the use of antimicrobial peptides obtained of natural sources such as Breast Milk (BM), therefore the aim of this investigation is to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of peptides obtained from the fermentation of BM using probiotic bacteria found in the same one. Methodology: Three samples of BM was pasteurized and inoculated with Bifidumbacterim spp, Lactobacillus spp, and Streptococcus spp generes, which were isolated from BM through selective mediums, and incubated at 37°C under anaerobic conditions for 37 hours. The whey proteins amount was determined by Bradford method. The whey proteins were visualized in acrylamide gel at 16% concentration. The separation of whey proteins was done by size exclusion chromatography with Poly ([allyl dextran]-co-N,N′-methylenebisacrylamide) within 25-75 microns resin and it was quantified whit the Bradford method and visualized in SDS-PAGE. The antimicrobial characteristics of the protein fractions were evaluated on Gram negative and positive bacteria using disks impregnated of whey protein fractions. Findings: The fermentation of milk stopped at the exponential phase of bacterial growth. The range of weight of whey proteins was 10 – 75 kDa and a significant low weight proteins concentration. In all cases, 4 fractions were obtained in the chromatography separation, nevertheless only one contained proteins lower than 10 kDa. The antibiogram assay determined microbiological inhibition of whey proteins in both the Gram-positive and negative bacterial genera. Conclusion & Significance: It was confirmed the proteolitical activity of probiotics genera on BM and the consequent liberation of broad spectrum antimicrobial peptides.

Speaker
Biography:

My name is Saima Javed. I am doing Ph.D from University of the Punjab (Department of Microbiology & Molecular genetics) Pakistan. Currently I am working on screening of biosurfactants and their role in oil biodegradation. I have worked in diagnosis of dengue serotypes by molecular techniques and prevalence of Dengue in Pakistan. I have also worked on heavy metals biotransformation, bioremediation, biodegradation, and phytoremediation. In Future I am interested to join the group in Pakistan to work for the development of vaccination of Dengue virus.

Abstract:

In this work toxic Selenite which is also highly soluble is transformed to Selenium a less toxic element. Selenium through biotic transformation using different strains of bacterial like Pseudomonas, Exiguobacterium sp, Bacillus subtilis and licheniformis. Selenium can exists in different forms like reduced form (Selenide, Se2-), water dissolved form (Selenite, So3-2/Selenate SeO4-2) and in the form of element (Seo). Different physical parameters were changed for optimizing conditions like different concentrations of Selenium (Se) varying from 200 to 400 and finally to 600 µg ml-1), temperature, pH, aeration along with incubation time for high reduction of Selenite. It was found that Selenite reduction rate was increased by increasing pH. It was found that at pH 3 around 15-33 % Selenite was reduced and this trend kept on increasing to 28-90% at pH 9. For evaluating optimum temperature for Selenite reduction three levels of temperature were selected (32°C, 37°C and 42°C) were selected. The Selenite reduction was found at different temperatures and the results showed that for optimum reduction of Selenite all strains posses varying preferences. The reduction in Selenite was also checked at different concentrations of Selenite and it was found that maximum reduction of Selenite was observed at lower concentration. This study concluded that in aerobic and anaerobic environment Se can be remediated by using selenite reducing bacteria.

Speaker
Biography:

Isaac Kwadwo Mpanga is currently a PhD student at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, where he obtained his MSc. in Crop Sciences. His work focuses on fertilization strategies to improve plant-growth promotion of microorganisms which is under the just ended European Union project called BIOFECTOR chaired by Prof. Dr Guenther Neumann at University of Hohenheim, Germany.

Abstract:

The use of soil microorganisms as inoculants (bioeffectors, BEs) for nutrient mobilization and plant growth promotion has gained increasing interest as a potential tool to reduce the input of agrochemicals with their negative impacts on the environment. However, their use is challenged due to variable performance and efficiency under practical conditions. This study demonstrates that the form of nitrogen fertilization (nitrate or ammonium) is one factor with an impact on the efficiency of beneficial interactions between plants and microbial BEs. Combination of ammonium fertilizers (stabilized by nitrification inhibitors) instead of nitrate fertilization, with BEs of fungal and bacterial origin, resulted in a stimulation of plant growth promotion. Ammonium-fertilized maize plants with BE inoculation showed a more intense rhizosphere acidification associated with improved mobilization of sparingly soluble soil P sources and micronutrients (Zn, Mn), increased root concentrations of hormonal growth regulators (auxin, cytokinins, gibberellic acids), increased root surface area, a higher auxin production potential of various bacterial inoculants (Pseudomonas sp., Bacillus sp.), and increased root colonization by BEs (Trichoderma harzianum). The activities of both, acid and alkaline phosphatases, involved in mineralization of organic P forms in the rhizosphere, were increased in response to BE inoculation, but not affected by the different forms of N fertilization. However, the effectiveness of the fertilization strategy was, dependent on the soil pH and the P-nutritional status of the soil. These findings underline the importance of considering compatible BE-fertilizer combinations for further development of BE-assisted fertilization strategies.

Day 2 :

  • Pharmaceutical Microbiology | Environmental Biotechnology

Session Introduction

Terezinha I. E. Svidzinski

Medical Mycology Laboratory, Brazil

Title: New antifungal designed by biotechnology and bioinformatics approaches
Speaker
Biography:

Terezinha Svidzinski has experience in the areas of laboratorial diagnostics and antifungals used in the treatment of invasive fungal infections. She serves as Professor and Head of the Medical Mycology group, at State University of Maringá, Paraná, Brazil, which mainly focuses on the interface between human health and fungal diseases and the development of new antifungal drugs. She has academic experience as advisor and on articles published  in her field of interest.

Abstract:

Statement of the Problem: Severe invasive fungal infections (IFIs) are becoming increasingly frequent in critically ill patients worldwide in recent decades. Specially the fungal healthcare–associated or nosocomial fungal infections. According to Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections over 1 billion people worldwide are affected and 25 million patients are at imminent risk of death due to fungal infections. The mortality due to IFIs is too high, ranging from 30 to 60%, reality that has been attributed mainly to treatment failure. The purpose of this study is to describe our experience with new small molecules, selected by in silico methodology, regarding their in vitro and in vivo antifungal properties. Methodology & Theoretical Orientation: Our group, in collaboration with other researchers experts in biotechnology and bioinformatics have developed studies exploring the interaction of small molecules with specific fungal target receptors. Currently some new molecules were already selected and they are promising candidates to the development of new antifungal drugs. Thus, they have been evaluated considering their mycological aspects against some important human pathogenic fungi. Findings: These compounds showed antifungal activity individually on Candida spp, including C. glabrata and C. krusei, both species non-responsive to fluconazole; also against Cryptococcus spp and Paracoccidioides spp, fungi responsible for systemic mycoses, difficult management and with high mortality rates. Besides, some of these molecules have showed synergistic effect with usual antifungals. Conclusion & Significance: We were able to demonstrate lower minimum fungicidal concentration of these molecules, as well as inhibition of some fungal virulence factors. Besides, they are toxicologically inert in vitro and showed low toxicity in animal model, and also they were able to reduce experimental systemic infections in mice. Therefore, in silico methods have been an important tool for new antifungal design, decreasing cost and accelerating the antifungal development process.

Pascal E. Saikaly

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Title: Recycling waste CO2 to valuable resources through microbial electrosynthesis
Speaker
Biography:

Pascal Saikaly received his B.S. in Biology (1997) and M.S. in Environmental Technology (2001) from the American University of Beirut (AUB). Then he received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2005 and continued his training as a postdoc at North Carolina State University until 2007. He joined King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in 2010 coming from AUB, where he was an Assistant Professor since 2008. He is currently an Associate Professor at KAUST. His research interests include microbial electrochemical systems, membrane bioreactors, electro-microbiology, and advanced materials for water and energy applications. Professor Saikaly has more than 74 refereed journal articles in the field’s top journals, including Advanced Materials, Scientific Reports, Environmental Science and Technology, Water Research, Frontiers in Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Journal of Membrane Science. He also has over 100 conference presentations and papers.

Abstract:

Anthropogenic and industrial activities have led to a rapid rise in the atmospheric CO2 concentrations leading to increased global warming.  A new approach that has emerged in recent years is that of microbial electrosynthesis (MES), which relies on chemolithoautotrophic bacteria that can uptake electrons directly or indirectly (via H2) from the cathode of an electrochemical cell to catalyze the reduction of CO2 into fuels or value-added chemicals. Gas-liquid mass transfer is one of the limiting factors in MES, mainly because of the low solubility of gaseous CO2 in solution. To overcome this limitation, we developed dual-function electro-catalytic and macroporous hollow-fiber (CCPHF) cathodes that act as an electron donor for chemolithoautotrophs as well as a diffusive material to facilitate direct delivery of CO2 gas to chemolithoautotrophs through the pores in the hollow fibers. Using the CCPHF cathode we observed a Faradic efficiency of 77% for the production of CH4 from CO2 through hydrogenotrophic methanogens when CO2 was delivered directly through the pores of the CCPHF cathode, compared to 3% when gaseous CO2 was bubbled into the solution. We also successfully demonstrated that the rates of product formation can be enhanced by using carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which increases CO2 adsorption capability and enhances microbe-electrode interactions.  Modification of the CCPHF cathodes with CNTs resulted in 70% increase in acetate production rate from CO2 in MES using the homoacetogenic bacterium Sporomusa ovata. The use of CCPHF cathodes in MES research is a significant breakthrough. The high specific surface area of the CCPHF cathode maximizes the diffusion of CO2 gas, and the high surface-area-to-volume ratio of the CCPHF cathode architecture solves the issue of cathode packing density for large-scale applications. Most importantly, using CCPHF cathodes make the MES process highly attractive for on-site carbon capture and utilization.

Speaker
Biography:

Priyanka Sharma is a National Post-Doctoral Fellow in India. Research is her passion. She has expertise in isolation, characterization and screening of actinobacteria from diverse sources with the aim for clinical use as antinfective drugs. During her Ph.D., she has screened more than hundred actinobacteria for the production of antimicrobial metabolites against human disease causing drug-resistant bacteria and fungi. Screening of antibiotic biosynthetic genes responsible for the production of these antimicrobial metabolites is also a part of her research. Besides Streptomyces, she has also isolated members of rare actinobacteria genera. For the first time, she has reported a phenolic compound, 3,5-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-phenol, as antimicrobial agent produced by Nocardia sp. PB-52 (GenBank accession number KM406386). Presently, she is screening endophytic actinobacteria for ex vivo and in vivo antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine-sensitive and resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum causing malaria in humans. Besides research, she is also actively involved in an NGO that looks after old age homes.

Abstract:

Actinobacteria are the leading producers of useful natural products such as polyketides, nonribosomal peptides and alkaloids of medical and industrial importance. The objective of the study was to investigate the in vitro antimicrobial potential and biodiversity of a collection of actinobacteria from forests of Northeast India and explore its potential use as a novel source of polyketides and nonribosomal peptides. For the isolation of actinobacteria, soil samples were collected from two forest ecosystems, namely, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaziranga National Park located in the North-eastern part of India (Figure 1). Northeast India, with its unique asset of rich biodiversity, is a part of Indo-Burma mega biodiversity hotspot. A total of 100 actinobacteria were isolated using different selective media. During the antimicrobial screening of actinobacteria against ten test microbial pathogens, including drug-resistant pathogens, 77 actinobacteria exhibited promising antimicrobial activity. 16S rDNA sequencing of the representative actinobacteria comprised of Streptomyces, Nocardia and Kribbella sp. Further screening revealed that PKS-I genes were detected in 4 actinobacteria and their amino acid sequences shared 55-68% similarity with their closest BLASTP matches relating to gene product involved in the production of tautomycin, oligomycin, rifamycin, etc. PKS-II genes were detected in 15 isolates with 68-95% sequence similarity with their closest BLASTP matches at amino acid level. Their closest match pathway products were predicted as compounds belonging to different groups of aromatic polyketides such as naphthoquinone, anthracycline, angucycline, glycosides etc. NRPS genes were detected in only 2 isolates with 40-53% sequence similarity to their closest relatives at the amino acid level and their pathway products were analyzed as virginiamycin and oxazolomycin. Lower sequence similarity (>70%) to the closest relative suggested the novelty of these genes resulting in the possibility of novel compounds. The partial PKS-I, PKS-II, NRPS and 16S rRNA gene sequences have been deposited in GenBank database. The overall findings of the present study emphasize the importance of exploration of biodiversity hotspots like forest ecosystems for the isolation of actinobacteria producing bioactive compounds with diverse biological activities.