Record Attendance at ISSY Conference

  • 14 Jul 2017

University College Cork hosted the 33rd International Specialised Symposium on Yeasts (ISSY33) on the 26th – 29th June 2017.

The conference was a fascinating selection of scientific research, and a great mix of nearly 300 industry and academic researchers from 40 different countries at all stages of their careers. It was the largest ISSY conference ever held and the most significant yeast biotechnology conference this year in Europe. Dr John Morrissey, School of Microbiology, chaired the conference and was assisted in organisation by Dr Francesca Doonan, School of Microbiology, and Lucy Taylor, UCC Academy. Support was also provided by the Microbiology Society.

There were two main themes to ISSY33. The first was the development of yeast cell factories for production of valuable products to provide sustainable solutions to societal and environmental issues. There was a comprehensive set of presentations from senior and junior researchers on some of the latest developments for engineering yeast to generate products such as bioethanol, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, organic acids, and chemical precursors. These talks outlined the enormous potential for using engineered yeast as a replacement for petroleum and unsustainable plant oil in many products. Yeast cell factories would also contribute to the cleaner, safer, healthier bio-based economy that the European Union aims to foster. In the closing keynote, Christina Smolke (Stanford University) presented some of her inspiring research on using yeast to produce opiate precursors and derivatives for medical purposes.

The second main theme focused on how yeast biodiversity can be exploited to develop new yeast products such as foods and beverages. Dr Diego Libkind (National University of Comahue, Argentina) gave an enthusiastic description of how he identified the missing parent of lager yeast in 2011, and how studies on that new yeast are leading to the development of new strains of yeast for brewing. Other researchers highlighted how genetics and genomics are being used to identify and select novel strains with enhanced properties for wine-making. These novel strains are required for many reasons, one of which is to help winemakers to adapt to increased sugar levels in grapes due to climate change.

UCC was represented strongly at the conference, with Javier Varela, a PhD student in Microbiology receiving great praise for his talk on the expansion of sugar transporters in the genome of the industrial yeast Kluyveromyces marxianus. David Ferreira, a PhD student jointly registered at Microbiology UCC and INRA, France, received an award as one of the three best young presenters at the conference. Other researchers from UCC who presented posters or talks included Noemi Montini, Fabrizia Titarelli, and Dr Jose Madeira (School of Microbiology), Dr Dara Fitzpatrick (School of Chemistry), and Mareile Heitmann (School of Food and Nutritional Science).

There was strong support for the conference from industry players such as Heineken, Irish Distillers, Kerry, Evolva, Singer Instruments, Constant Systems, Lallemand and Carbery. The conference was also supported by Science Foundation Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, EMBO, and the Microbiology Society of the UK and Ireland.

UCC is currently coordinating 3 European research projects in this field, with new PhD positions soon to become available in the YEASTDOC project.

Websites: yeastcell.eu; chassy.eu; yeastdoc.eu

Twitter: @ChassyProject

Facebook: @YeastResearch

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