Join us for the Inaugural Forsyth Symposium Featuring the Uncultivable Bacteria

Cultured TM7 bacterium oral taxon 488, strain TM7x, infecting Actinomyces odontolyticus, strain XH001. Image by Pallavi Murugkar and Felicitas Bidlack
  • Monday, September 24, 2018
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Join us for our inaugural Forsyth Symposium on October 11-12, 2018. This year's symposium will feature "The Uncultivable Bacteria" and include two days of talks, posters sessions, and a workshop. The primary speakers include Dr. Jill Banfield, the University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Floyd Dewhirst, Forsyth Institute; Dr. Angela Douglas, Cornell University; Dr. Stephen Giovannoni, Oregon State University; Dr. Xuesong He, Forsyth Institute; Dr. Kim Lewis, Northeastern University; Dr. Jessica Mark-Welch, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole; Dr. Jeffrey Scott McLean, the University of Washington; Dr. Pallavi Murugkar, Forsyth Institute; and Dr. William Wade, King's College London. The workshop, held on the second day, will provide all attendees with a demonstration of isolation and culture methods for human oral Saccharibacteria (TM7) with their hosts. The methods should be generalizable other phyla within the Candidate Phylum Radiation. Twelve preselected symposium participants (with informed consent under an IRB approved protocol) will participate in isolation of Saccharibacteria from their own mouths.

The Uncultivable Bacteria

The cultivation of every microbe in every environment has been the goal of microbiologists for the past 150 years, and the goal of investigators studying the human microbiome for the past 10 years. In some environments, like soil and sea seawater, only a few percent of the prokaryotes present have been cultured. However, in the host-associated human oral cavity, more than 70% of the approximately 700 species present have been cultured axenically (with significant contributions by scientists at Forsyth). Understanding the reasons why many microbes remain uncultured (“uncultivable” using standard methods) is a basic biological problem that is inhibiting progress in many fields including medicine, environmental microbiology, biotechnology and energy development. The Candidate Phyla Radiation bacteria represent a significant fraction of microbial diversity on earth, but no members of this clade had been cultured until the recent success with human oral Saccharibacteria (TM7) species, achieved by scientists at Forsyth. The goals of this year’s symposium are to examine the reasons or mechanisms bacteria are “uncultivable” using standard culture methods to describe conceptual breakthroughs that have allowed cultivation of several Saccharibacteria species, to examine their biology, and to compare their parasitic lifestyle to that of other parasitic microbes including phage.

Schedule and Registration

The Symposium will be held at Forsyth Institute, 245 First Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday, October 11 (8:30am - 8:00pm) and Friday, October 12 (8:30am - 12pm).

The symposium is free, however, because seating is limited, registration is required. Upon registering, you will be notified that we have received your application, and subsequently if you have been accepted to attend. 

PLEASE NOTE: The Symposium is sold out and all workshop slots have now been filled!

Online streaming of the talks will be hosted on Forsyth's Facebook page.

Please find the Forsyth Symposium Agenda here.

If you have any questions regarding registration or the symposium, please contact us at