Course details
Course general details
New frontiers in microbial ecology
Course contents
Feb 10, 2013
Feb 15, 2013
Microbes are everywhere on the globe. They were the first to develop and will be the ultimate survivors at the final collapse of the solar system. Microbes are also key drivers of a range of ecosystems, from whole complex ecosystems to systems as small as the human intestine or the skin of an insect. The area of microbial ecology is in great turmoil, as we are explosively enhancing our understanding of the genomics of single organisms as well as of whole ecosystems. This exciting development has opened up a pandora box of new and challenging questions as to the ecological drivers of function and evolution in the microbial world. This course will deal with a range of topics in the area “The implication of advanced genomics in Microbial ecology”. Key people in the arewa will serve as lecturers to illustrate recent highlights in their area. Moreover, they will challenge the students with questions about recent developments in their area, which will be dealt with in (interactive) discussion sessions.
Microbial communities are central to the key biogeochemical processes of all of Earth’s ecosystems. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that microbiomes play fundamental roles in the life of nearly all other organisms, be they plants, coral reefs, insects or humans. A main thrust to our understanding of these communities has come from the rapid development and application of molecular techniques, and more recently high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies.

This course will examine our current understanding of the diversity and functioning of the relevant microbial communities in the above systems.

A limited number of expert teachers will deliver lectures and the students will also have the opportunity for in depth study a topic of their choice from the literature, after which the topic will be put up for discussion with the teachers and other students.

- Metagenomics
- Microbiomes affecting hosts or ecosystems:
• humans
• plants
• ecosystems: terrestrial and aquatic
- How do microorganisms interact with each other and with their hosts?
- Microbial diversity versus function: does diversity matter?
- Microbial evolution and horizontal gene transfer

Teachers will include internationally renowned lecturers, as well as esteemed colleagues from the Netherlands.
To provide students with an appreciation of the most important current developments in the field of microbial ecology. The course is primarily aimed at PhD level students, but is also open to advanced Master level students with interest in microbial ecology.

Provisional program:

Day 1 (Sunday 10th February 2013): Arrival, Registration and Dinner at the course venue 'Assumburg Castle', Heemkerk, the Netherlands

Day 2 (Monday):
8.45- 9.30 Introduction to the course; history and recent developments in Microbial Ecology (Dick van Elsas / Hans van Veen)
9.45-11.00 What tools do we have to study the structure of microbial communities and an introduction to the “omics” toolbox ? (Dick van Elsas / G. Kowalchuk)
11.15-12.45 The microbiota of humans – the human intestine
13.00-14.30 Lunch
14.30-16.30 The microbiota of plants – The rhizosphere and rhizoplane (Hans van Veen)
16.30- 18.30 Free: read articles in preparation for discussion
19.00- 21.00 Dinner

Day 3 (Tuesday):
8.45- 10.30 The microbiota of soils – functional assessments (George Kowalchuk )
10.45-12.30 The microbiota of marine systems – functional assessments
12.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Microbial diversity and function (Joana Salles)
15.00-16.00 What rules structure microbial communities
16.00-16.30 Snack
16.30- 17.30 Instructions for student presentations
17.30 General discussion led by Kowalchuk/Salles
19.00- 21.00 Dinner

Day 4 ( Wednesday):
8.45- 10.30 Microbial evolution
10.45-12.30 Horizontal Gene Transfer (Dick van Elsas)
12.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00- 16.00 Student presentations I
16.00- 18.00 General discussion led by de Visser/van Elsas
19.00- 21.00 Dinner

Day 5 (Thursday):
8.45- 10.30 Microbial genomics
10.45-12.30 Microbial metagenomics and bioinformatics
12.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00-16.00 Student presentations II
16.00-16.30 Snack
16.30- 18.30 Student Literature discussion
19.00- 21.00 Dinner

Day 6 ( Friday):
8.45- 10.15 Applied microbial ecology: The human microbiome and disease
10.15-11.45 Applied microbial ecology: Phytopathology and microorganisms
11.45 - 12.00 Packing
12.00-14.00 Lunch
13.15-14.45 Applied Microbiology: Wastewater treatment
14.45-15.00 End of course & Farewell

Course conditions
Jan 12, 2013
The course will be held 'in house' at Stay Okay, Heemskerk (Assumburg Castle, Heemskerk, The Netherlands), some 30 minutes from the Schiphol International Airport. Bedding and full catering will be provided and is included in the course fee. Please bring your own towels and a laptop.

Transportation to and from de venue will be provided at a set time.

Under the auspices of the Research Schools RSEE, PE&RC and SENSE.

- Prof.Dr. J.D. van Elsas (Microbial Ecology, RuG, Groningen)
- Prof.Dr. H. van Veen ( Dept. Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology , Wageningen)
- Dr. G.A. Kowalchuk (Ecology and Biodiversity, Utrecht University)


Registration fee is € 350,- for PhD students with an approved TSP participating in RSEE, SENSE or PE&RC. Other PhD participants pay € 450,- and non-PhD participants pay € 500,-*. Master student participants: please contact C.M. Eising.

* Fees may be subject to a reduction depending on your school and the number of participants.

The maximum number of participants is 25, of which a set amount of spaces is available to Master level students. PhD student applications will be handled on a first come, first serve basis. However, master student applications will be reviewed and prioritized.

Please fill out all required information on the registration form.

Course URL:

Nov 1, 2012
Registration Closed