BLACKSBURG, Va., March 14, 2006 --The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) will host an international group of scientists for a research symposium on April 26-29 at the VBI Conference Center on the Virginia Tech campus.

The "International Symposium on the Comparative Biology of the Alpha-Proteobacteria" will examine the very latest research and findings on the alpha-proteobacteria, a group of diverse organisms whose members have successfully adopted different lifestyle and energy-yielding strategies in the course of evolution.

Bruno Sobral, executive and scientific director of VBI and chair of the symposium, commented: “We have been fortunate to attract a line-up of some of the world’s leading international experts working on alpha-proteobacteria. The symposium’s agenda spans topics such as metabolism, development, and evolutionary biology and unites cutting-edge scientific approaches as varied as bioinformatics, functional genomics and immunology.” He added: “We hope that by bringing together an assorted group of research interests, scientists who attend the symposium will be able to leverage findings in one alpha-proteobacterial system to explore research opportunities in other systems. This approach is very much in the spirit of the transdisciplinary research that we encourage at VBI.”

The alpha-proteobacteria include free-living bacteria as well as bacteria that live within the cells of other organisms. Mitochondria, the energy factories of higher cells, are also thought to be descendants of alpha-proteobacteria.

Researchers are expected from all over the world including France, Costa Rica, Japan and other countries. Distinguished researchers Dr. Siv Andersson (Uppsala University, Sweden), Dr. Roy (Marty) Roop (East Carolina University), Dr. Gary Stacey (University of Missouri), and Dr. Mike Sadowsky (University of Minnesota) will chair the presentation sessions. Dr. Siv Andersson, Head of the Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, will give the opening plenary lecture entitled “Expansion and reduction of the genome”.

Symposium attendees will also have the chance to participate in a workshop on Sinorhizobium meliloti, the soil bacterium that forms nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of certain leguminous plants. Jacques Matut (L’Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) will chair the workshop.

For more information on this event, please contact Lea Hamblin by e-mail at or visit http://www.vbi.vt.edu/alphapro.

##

Contact:
Lea Hamblin
(540) 231-1649;

Published by Erin Cassidy, March 13, 2006