Speaker award for microbiologist

An internationally respected University of Otago microbiologist, Prof Gregory Cook, will receive a distinguished speaker award from the New Zealand Microbiological Society at its annual conference next week.

Prof Cook is a world-leading authority on the metabolism and energetics of microbial growth.

Energetics includes the flow and transformation of energy.

Prof Cook will also give the society's distinguished speaker address, focusing on his research into how extremophiles - micro-organisms which thrive in extreme environments - generate energy in such conditions.

Parts of mechanisms linked to such energy generation could become targets for new anti-Tb drugs.

A leading Otago graduate, Associate Prof Rob Knight, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, in the United States, will give a public keynote address on "Microbial Genomics and the Human Microbiome" at Otago University's St David lecture theatre at 6.15pm on Monday.

The human microbiome involves the totality of microbes, their genetic elements, and environmental interactions on and in the human body.

About 100 trillion microbial cells thrive in and on a single human body, and may outnumber a person's own cells by at least a factor of 10.

About 200 people would converge on the university from throughout New Zealand and overseas to attend the four-day conference, which starts on Monday, a conference organiser, Prof John Tagg, said.

The conference programme ranges widely, from microbiology and food safety, to the prevention and treatment of influenza, and the role of microorganisms in marine ecological processes.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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