3818791289?profile=originalDr Kaye Burgess is a research officer in the Food Safety Department in Teagasc Food Research Centre Ashtown in Dublin. She leads a research programme on the survival and adaptation of foodborne pathogens to environments and processes encountered in the farm to fork chain. She mainly works with verocytotoxigenic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. Kaye recently took part in the safefood Training & Mobility Funding Programme.  In the report below, she tells us about her experience.


I recently attended the ‘One Health Symposium- Focus on Gemomics of Pathogenic E. coli’ which was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands on December 1st and 2nd 2016. The event was attended by approximately 150 delegates from across Europe and North America. 


The One Health aspect of the meeting was underlined by the composition of the organising committee, with representatives from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen. The symposium was broad ranging, covering evolution, risk assessment, epidemiology and practical applications of genomics, with just some of the highlight speakers outlined here. Erick Denamur from the University of Paris was the opening keynote speaker and outlined an evolutionary perspective of the E. coli species diversity. Maite Muniese from the University of Barcelona provided an overview of the vital role bacteriophages play in the population biology of verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC). Stefano Morabito from the European VTEC reference laboratory focused on how advances in genomics have enabled us to have a truly one health approach when studying zoonotic pathogens such as VTEC, enabling the tracking and in depth comparison of pathogens in animals, the environment, foods and humans. Claire Jenkins from Public Health England in her presentation clearly demonstrated how advances in whole genome sequencing (WGS) have had a major impact on outbreak investigations, with the highly discriminatory molecular typing afforded by WGS facilitating outbreak detection and case ascertainment. Maaike van den Beld from RIVM was one of a number of speakers who outlined efforts to use WGS to easily differentiate between Shigella and enteroinvasive E. coli. Keynote speaker Nicole Segata from the University of Trento outlined the computational tools in use in his laboratory which enable profiling individual microorganisms in a microbiome with strain level resolution and demonstrated its use for studying E. coli n various human populations. Chris Elkin of the US FDA demonstrated how WGS has enabled the development of a comprehensive SNP array which has facilitated strain identification and molecular risk assessment. On the Friday afternoon the symposium finished up with a workshop on SNP versus allele based typing of strains, where Tim Dalman of Public Health England and Dag Harmsen of University of Münster demonstrated the analysis of two datasets by both methods, highlighting the advantages and potential limitations of both. During the symposium I also had the opportunity to display a poster outlining some of our recent research findings on phenotypic traits which may impact on VTEC survival in the primary production environment.

Overall, the quality and content of the symposium presentations was excellent and highly relevant to the ongoing food safety research programme in Teagasc. One of the key benefits was the combination of speakers from academia, research institutes and regulatory authorities. The audience was highly interactive with each of the speakers, enabling in-depth discussions on various topics.  Furthermore, the breaks and poster sessions provided an ideal opportunity to network with the speakers and symposium delegates. I had the opportunity to discuss ongoing research in our group with world renowned experts in the field and develop future collaboration prospects. Attendance of the symposium also led to the implementation of new analytical software in our research group. In conclusion it was a very relevant, worthwhile and beneficial symposium for my research.

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