FEMS Microbiology Letters Poster Prize: Sofie Louwagie
We send our congratulations to Sofie Louwagie, who won the Best Poster Prize at FEMS2023. This award is sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Letters.
FEMS2023 took place on 9-13 July 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. We had over 1800 participants from over 70 countries join us to share all the latest developments across the broad scope of microbiology.
Read our interview with Sofie about her research below:
What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?
I’m a PhD student at the lab of Jan Michiels. The lab is part of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology and the KU Leuven Centre for Microbial and Plant Genetics (Belgium). The KU Leuven was my host institution for my bachelor’s degree in bioscience engineering and master’s degree in cellular and genetic engineering. My journey in the lab started already in 2021, when I started my master thesis there on the link between protein aggregation and dormancy in E. coli. Upon completion of my master, I applied for and received a PhD Fellowship fundamental research from Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek to study persister recovery in E. coli, the topic of my PhD.
What did you enjoy most at FEMS2023?
While FEMS2023 offered much and more, I most enjoyed the opportunities to expand my network and to get in touch with experts in different microbiology disciplines. The poster presentation sessions, in particular, allowed me to quickly establish contacts, which is especially valuable as a young career scientist. Of course Hamburg was a beautiful host city as well.
Could you describe the research your poster covered?
In my poster I presented research, initiated by my colleague Dorien Wilmaerts, on the exit from the persister state induced by a diffusible signal in E. coli. We are using time lapse micrscopy to study the recovery dynamics of persister cells, which are temporarily antibiotic-tolerant cells, that can switch back (recover) to the phenotypic sensitive state. This revealed a relationship between the distance between persister cells and the difference in lag times, suggesting a diffusible signal may trigger recovery of nearby persister cells. We have identified the trigger and are currently looking at potential sensor protein candidates.
What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?
In the future I hope to identify the sensor of the trigger and I wish to validate my findings in a different format other than time lapse microscopy. In addition, I would like to focus on a more high-throughput method to identify genetic determinants of persister recovery using pooled CRISPRi screening and RNAseq.
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