International conference marks the end of the CRC 1182’s second funding phase

“Horizons in metaorganism research”: Meeting at Kiel University highlights perspectives for the future development of research into host-microbe interactions

The international conference “Horizons in Metaorganism Research” takes place at Kiel University from Wednesday, 4 October, to Friday, 6 October. The conference brings together scientists from Kiel and international experts to exchange views on current developments and future perspectives in the research of host-microbe interactions. The internationally high-ranking conference, which is attended by around 110 researchers from eight countries, marks the conclusion of the second funding phase of the Kiel Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”. It also serves to present the results of eight years of metaorganism research at Kiel University.

The aim of the CRC 1182 is to understand why and how microbial communities form long-term associations with their host organisms and what functional consequences this interaction has for the health and disease of the metaorganism. This overarching field of research is the topic of the three conference days with over 20 lectures and various exchange formats; a satellite session on the role of the microbiome in agricultural and nutritional sciences rounds off the programme.

Interdisciplinary research into the interplay between host organisms and microbes

The conference will cover a broad range of topics and include perspectives from both applied and basic research. It addresses diverse research questions such as the effects of industrial lifestyles on the composition of the human microbiome, the role of microorganisms in the adaptation of host organisms to climate change or the effects of nutrition on the microbial colonisation of the body. To this end, the Kiel conference brings together experts from Kiel and international colleagues who contribute to research into the functional cooperation of host organisms and microorganisms in various disciplines. The conference is jointly organised by Professor Thomas Bosch and Professor Hinrich Schulenburg as heads of the CRC 1182. In addition, the European cooperation project “Genomics and Metabolomics in a Host-Microbe Symbiosis Network” (SymbNET) with participation of Kiel University contributes to the event.

“The aim of this perspective conference is to share our experiences and knowledge across disciplinary boundaries and to discuss which topics and trends will shape the further development of metaorganism research in Kiel and in international cooperation in the coming years,” emphasises Schulenburg, vice spokesperson of the CRC 1182.

International hub in metaorganism research
Over the past two decades, scientists worldwide have uncovered numerous details about the interaction of multicellular host organisms with the totality of microorganisms living in and on their tissues, the so-called microbiome. After technological breakthroughs in high-throughput genome analysis opened the window to deciphering these interactions, numerous new and fundamentally important insights into the influences of the microbiome on the functions and health of host organisms, including humans, could be gathered.

The CRC 1182 has made a decisive contribution to Kiel University’s development into an internationally respected location in this increasingly important research field. As a hub in microbiome research, the Kiel researchers cooperate today with numerous partners nationally and internationally and thus contribute to the further development of the research field. This excellent networking is also reflected in the conference’s top-class programme, to which renowned researchers such as Professor Gloria Dominguez-Bello from Rutgers University in the USA, Professor Tom Gilbert from the University of Copenhagen, Professor Karina Xavier from the Portuguese Instituto Gulbenkian or Professor Takema Fukatsu from the Japanese University of Tsukuba contribute.

The CRC 1182 has also worked with great success over the past eight years to establish metaorganism research in Kiel, thereby raising the profile of cutting-edge life science research at Kiel University. For the future, the members of CRC 1182 plan to maintain this successful course and are therefore preparing to continue the research consortium for another four years from 2024. “We can look back with pride on our achievements in the first two funding phases, in which we were able to gather many fundamental insights into the nature of host-microbe interactions. Thanks to these successes, we believe we have best chances of bringing our research programme to a convincing conclusion in a third and final funding phase,” says Bosch, who has headed the CRC 1182 since 2016.

Satellite workshop on microbiome research in agricultural and nutritional science
The conference will be framed by an affiliated meeting on “Microbiomes in Agricultural Systems and Human Nutrition”, organised by the Kiel University’s priority research area Kiel Life Science (KLS). The meeting, which will focus in particular on the agricultural and nutritional aspects of metaorganism research, will build bridges between the research disciplines already represented in CRC 1182 and neighbouring disciplines from KLS. In this way, the researchers want to take into account the growing importance of microbiome research for nutrition and agriculture as well and tap into the corresponding potential in the life sciences in Kiel.

Images are available for download:
Caption: Around 110 researchers discussed current developments and future perspectives in the study of host-microbe interactions at the CRC 1182 conference.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University
Caption: Internationally renowned scientists such as Professor Tom Gilbert from the University of Copenhagen (left) and Professor Takema Fukatsu from the Japanese University of Tsukuba contributed to the conference with their plenary lectures.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University
Caption: Professor Thomas Bosch (left) and Professor Hinrich Schulenburg organised the “Horizons in Metaorganism Research” conference at Kiel University.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University
Caption: The overarching theme of the three days of the conference is the interplay between host organisms and microorganisms and its effects on the health and disease of the metaorganism.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University

Prof. Thomas Bosch
Spokesperson Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1182
“Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”, Kiel University
Phone: +49 (0) 431-880-4170

More information:
Priority Research Area “Kiel Life Science”, Kiel University:

SymbNET, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras:

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