This proposal requests partial support for the 2012 Microbial Stress Response Gordon Research Conference to be held July 15-20, 2012 at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA. The 2012 Microbial Stress Response meeting will provide a forum for open reporting of recent advances from studying how individual microbes and microbial communities to respond to stress. This biannual conference traditionally attracts biological and physical scientists studying stress responses in medical, environmental, and biotechnology-relevant microbes as well as in model organisms, using genetic, cell biological, genomic and computational techniques. The 2012 meeting will integrate sessions describing cutting edge, genetic, molecular, and computational approaches to stress responses spanning from single microbes to communities. We plan to highlight the influence of new approaches to dissecting stress responses in the 2012 meeting. For example, the 2012 meeting is the perfect venue for in depth dialogue between researchers using high throughput sequencing and genomic techniques to study microbial stress responses in communities and scientists analyzing pure cultures and model organisms. We expect this dialogue will benefit all participants, providing basic biological insight to researchers analyzing complex microbial communities and informing scientists studying pure cultures of advances coming from deep-sequencing and other high throughput techniques in ecosystems of medical, environmental and biotechnological significance. We predict the conference will increase understanding of the biological, technical and computational issues, foster scientific discussions, and catalyze new collaborations among researchers studying stress responses at different temporal, organismal and community scales. This meeting is very successful by many criteria, and traditionally has a waiting list of interested attendees. Due to community interest, the Microbial Stress Response meeting is held in a Gordon Research Conference venue that houses ~175 and can accommodate ~60 posters by students, post-doc and other researchers. It is large enough to include a diverse audience but of a size and length that allows deep discussion and considerable interaction among attendees. The meeting organizers are committed to continue this meeting's tradition of participant diversity and will work to identify and include women, members of underrepresented groups and junior scientists as speakers or participants.
Stress responses are critical to bacterial growth, establishment of beneficial microbe-host interactions, as well as for pathogens to colonize hosts, initiate virulence programs and resist antimicrobial treatments. The new results presented at this meeting will help the community understand how stress responses control activities of beneficial and pathogenic microbes and develop strategies to improve human health. NIH funds will help support participation by a demographically diverse audience of biologists, physical scientists, engineers and computational biologists who study stress responses at the molecular, community and ecosystem levels.