The enterococci represent a widely diverse group of bacteria that includes species with significant clinical importance. Some are natural inhabitants of the human intestine and may be opportunistic pathogens. Enterococci are among the top three most common nosocomial agents -- giving rise to urinary tract and wound infections as well as bacteremias and endocarditis. Their frequent resistance to multiple antibiotics and harboring of related determinants on mobilizable elements like plasmids and conjugative transposons make treatment of clinical infections a major challenge. Enterococci also represent a significant reservoir of resistance genes for other bacterial genera. Indeed there is evidence that the recent emergence of high-level vancomycin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains is likely a result of acquisition of related determinant(s) from resident Enterococci [Weigel et al., Science 302:1569 (2003)]. Genes related to pathogenicity, such as those encoding cytolysins and """"""""aggregation substance"""""""", have also been located on transferable elements, some of which transfer readily between the enterococci and possibly to other genera. In addition the involvement of enterococci in food fermentations as well as exploration and use of certain strains as probiotics have been areas of significant interest. Much knowledge has been gained in recent years with respect to the molecular biology and genetics of enterococci. Genomes of E. faecalis and E. faecium have now been sequenced and numerous transmissible elements have been characterized. Pathogenicity islands and determinants exhibiting relationships to clinical virulence are continuing to be identified. Finally, the discoveries of numerous bacteriocin-systems and factors important to biofilm formation have provided significant information relevant to the ecology and survivability of enterococci. The conference to be held in Portland, Oregon from July 30 through August 2, 2010 and sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) will represent the third international meeting on the subject of enterococci, the last being held in Denmark in August of 2005. Past conferences have been well attended -- with 200-300 participants present. Oral sessions will cover: 1) molecular biology and genomics;2) virulence;3) antibiotic therapy and resistance;4) bacteriocins;5) plasmids and horizontal transfer;6) epidemiology and food connections;and 7) biofilms. Two poster sessions will also be held. Insofar as there is a significant amount of new material published in enterococcal research, and it will have been five years since the previous meeting, the next conference is especially timely and is being anticipated with much enthusiasm.
Enterococci are normal inhabitants of the human intestine but are also among the top three most common nosocomial agents. Multiple antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants encoded on mobile elements is extremely common in enterococci. Members of the genus are also used in food fermentations and as probiotics. The Third International ASM Conference on Enterococci will bring together investigators for the presentation and discussion of recent research findings that should greatly facilitate approaches to dealing with related human health challenges.