Over the last decade key insights have been gained into the fundamental mechanisms underlying the internal organization of prokaryotic cells and how this ties in with prokaryotic development and multicellular behavior. In particular, advances in prokaryotic cell biology have led to fundamental insights in our understanding of essential cell structures including the cell division apparatus, the cytoskeleton, the cell wall, and structures involved in bacterial motility. Similarly, important insights have been gained into how cells organize and interact to differentiate and form biofilms by means of sophisticated intercellular communication systems and intracellular signal transduction pathways. Because cell differentiation involves a reorganization of cell shape, division, metabolism and gene expression, the investigation of differentiating prokaryotic cells is providing important insights into these fundamental cellular properties. These insights into cell function are vitally important because of the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Developing the next generation of antibacterial drugs will require new thinking that takes advantage of knowledge derived from our growing understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of prokaryotic cell function, interactions and development. For example, the cell division apparatus, the cytoskeleton, the cell wall, and structures involved in bacterial motility are high priority drug targets. Furthermore, the cell-cell signaling mechanisms that coordinate cell behavior are vitally important virulence determinants and disrupting these signaling networks is an outstanding strategy for the development of novel antimicrobial therapies. This subject matter is at the heart of this conference. The central goals of this conference are to bring together researchers using the most sophisticated approaches to address the most important questions in the field of prokaryotic cell and developmental biology, and provide a forum for them to share ideas. Thus, presentations are planned that focus on basic biochemical, molecular genetics, and cell biological approaches to fundamental questions - research at the level of one or a small number of genes and proteins - as well as systems-level research uncovering regulatory networks in whole organisms and communities of organisms. The scientists who have committed to speak at this conference are international leaders in their fields. This unique access to the best minds in this field will provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with an inspiring and very stimulating educational experience. The core subject matter involves five widely and successfully studied systems: Escherichia coli (cell division, cytoskeletal structures, cell wall biosynthesis), Bacillus subtilis (cell cycle regulation, cytoskeletal structures, development, biofilm formation, cell wall biosynthesis), Caulobacter crescentus (cell cycle, differentiation, polarity, cytoskeletal structures, cell wall biosynthesis), Streptomyces coelicolor (multicellular development, differentiation, cell cycle regulation, intercellular communication) and Myxococcus xanthus (multicellular development, differentiation, intercellular communication, polarity). We expect these five organisms to constitute a core of the meeting;however, emerging model systems and opportunistic pathogens will also be included.
One of the major discoveries in microbiology in the last two decades is the finding that prokaryotic cells are spatially highly organized and that this organization closely ties in with prokaryotic development. Therefore, prokaryotic cell biology and development is recognized as an important aspect of microbiology and is an area of intense research activity. Research in this area encompasses microbiology, molecular genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, system biology, and theoretical modeling. This ASM-sponsored conference entitled "Prokaryotic Cell Biology and Development" is dedicated to exploring the state-of-the-art in this critical field.
The aims of this conference are i) to promot information sharing that will encourage the development of new research directions by bringing together scientists working in different areas and on diverse organisms, ii) to promote junior investigators in the field and promote diversity within the research community, and iii) to provide a format for collegial interactions and discussion between scientists in different fields.