The 2014 Gordon Research Conference on Sensory Transduction in Microorganisms to be held in Ventura CA will explore recent advances in understanding microbial systems of signal transduction. Focus will be placed on bacterial receptors and their interactions with intracellular networks that involve phosphorelays, two-component systems, and small molecule signaling by cyclic nucleotides, reactive metabolites and quorum sensing signals. Topics will include gene regulation by sensory input and the assembly, action and regulation of motility apparatuses, such as bacterial flagella and pili. Mechanisms underlying chemotaxis, energy monitoring, community behavior, quorum sensing and biofilm formation will be central themes, especially with respect to pathogenesis. These areas will be addressed through cutting-edge applications of molecular genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and chemical biology as well as structural, imaging and biophysical approaches. Data from high-resolution experiments will be paired with computational efforts to probe the behavior of complex macromolecular assemblies and understand signaling circuitry. Emerging directions such as the role of the cell wall in sensing and responding to signals and the engineering of prokaryotic signaling for biotechnology will be explored. Invited speakers will include both established and early-stage investigators. In addition, poster presenters will compete for short hot-topic talks. Participants will enjoy the Conference's open and collegial atmosphere that provides valuable opportunities to engage in scientific discussion and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. For the first time, a Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) for postdocs and graduate students will precede the GRC. The GRS provides a supportive environment for junior scientists to present their work and receive advise by senior mentors. Topics at the GRS will parallel those of the GRC. The STIM community has long supported junior scientists, and we see the establishment of the GRS as an excellent opportunity to continue on this mission. Thus, the GRS will help us nurture the development of early stage investigators and promote diversity within our community. The GRS will reduce barriers junior scientists often encounter at meetings and give them the confidence and skills to be full-fledged participants. The field of prokaryotic signal transduction has been undergoing a revitalization due to an influx of talented new researchers who apply advanced tools of computation, single molecule or cell imaging and high throughput genetic screening to provide answers previously unattainable. The well-integrated STIM GRC/GRS will direct those applying such methods to the most important questions confronting our field and will encourage postdocs and students to apply their hard-won training to the most exciting new areas of prokaryotic signaling.
Mechanisms of sensory transduction and motility are critical for bacterial pathogens to invade tissues, evade the immune system, produce virulence factors and undergo differentiation into resistant forms. The STIM GRC assembles researchers from many diverse fields to understand how bacteria sense and respond to their environment at levels that range from molecular assemblies to cellular physiology. The meeting provides an intense collaborative environment to attack these problems from many perspectives and ultimately develop new strategies to combat infectious disease.