2012 CHOMA Lecture and Symposium

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2012 CHOMA History of Microbiology Lecture

A Century of Bacteriophages 

William C. Summers
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Bacteriophages were first recognized by Felix d’Herelle in 1916, but his first encounter with their effects was in 1911-1912 when he noted “cultural irregularities” of interest when he was studying Coccobacillus acridiorum.  Thus, one can reasonably claim that 2012 might be the centennial of the bacteriophage phenomenon.  The history of phage is one that is embedded in the study of epizootics: phage are infections of bacterial populations.  This early focus quickly led d’Herelle to employ them as antibacterial agents, just as he was using C. acridiorum as an anti-locust epizootic infection.  The first third of the century of phage was devoted to this therapeutic application of these biological antibiotics.  In the middle third of its history, phage were studied as biological objects in their own right.  The “nature” of phage was central to the development of modern molecular biology and understanding of the so-called “central dogma.”  Phages have played a central role in gene engineering and biotechnology, based on this knowledge.  In more recent years, attention has returned to the role phages play in diseases and large and small ecosystems.  This lecture will provide a chronology of the past century of phage research, but also highlight changing emphasis, changing styles of research, and changing importance of research questions, all related to the ubiquitous bacteriophage.   

 

 

2012 CHOMA History Symposium

The Culture of Rice: From Farm to Fermentation

This Symposium focuses on the history of microbiology using rice as the “driver,” and covers global issues in agriculture, nutrition, microbiology, and fermentation. Using the Pacific-Rim as a starting point, the Symposium elaborates on the expansive use and culture of rice, the primary source of calories and nutrition for almost half the world population.  The historical and cultural significance of rice and its uses, from basic food to fermented products including sake, is examined.  The importance of rice in understanding host innate immunity, nutritionally beneficial genetic engineering, and the development and use of fermented foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals is discussed. This Symposium provides a broadly ranging discourse that should be of interest to ASM members associated with education, outreach or research in the areas of food microbiology, biotechnology, host-pathogen interactions, fermentation, and the history of microbiology.  

 

Symposium Convener:

Karen-Beth G. Scholthof (Texas A&M University, College Station, TX)

 

Symposium Speakers:

1.  Introduction and General Historical Perspective 

Karen-Beth G. Scholthof (Texas A&M University, College Station, TX)

 

2.  Jokichi Takamine: Aspergillus oryzae from Farm to Pharma (Recording Currently Unavailable)

Joan W. Bennett (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ)

 

3.  The History and Culture of Sake: Rice Wine Fermentation

Izumi Motai (Takara Sake, Berkeley, CA)

 

4.  Golden Rice: The Rationale for It and the Science Behind It (Recording Currently Unavailable)

Francis X. Cunningham, Jr. (University of Maryland, College Park, MD)

 

5.  Towards a Better Bowl of Rice: The Molecular Basis of Disease Resistance

Pamela C. Ronald (University of California-Davis, Davis, CA)

 

For questions or to suggest future Lecture and Symposia topics, contact the Archivist, Jeff Karr at jkarr@asmusa.org

 

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