February 26-28, 2019
Raleigh Durham, North Carolina


Day One
Wednesday 27th February 2019

Day Two
Thursday 28th February 2019

Registration & Morning Coffee

Chairperson Opening Remarks

Demonstrating Causality of Plant-Soil Microbiome Interactions


Introduction and Purpose:
Directed discovery of microbes in various soils has been central to finding new members of plant and soil microbiome communities. Whilst research has focused on understanding the mechanisms of action of well-known microbial strains, a lot of unknown matter remains in our soils and the majority of plant-soil and microbe-microbe interactions remain unclear. The purpose of this theme is to showcase new research on microbial interdependence, synergy, competition and functionality and demonstrate how this can inform microbial product development.

Bacterial Community Maintenance of Plant Root Development

  • Omri Finkel Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dangl Lab, , University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill


  • Large synthetic communities provide reproducible trait discovery platforms that allow us to infer causality through experimental manipulation
  • The composition of the plant microbiome has a profound impact on plant root development
  • Small  changes to a polymicrobial inoculation can induce wide developmental shifts in the plant

Microbial Source and Recipient Environments: Interactions Impact Microbial Establishment and Function

  • Terry Bell Assistant Professor of Phytobiomes, Penn State University


  • Soil microbiomes are shaped by local factors and microbial immigration
  • Establishment of incoming microbes depends on dispersal and adaptedness to soil conditions
  • Can understanding microbial history help in modifying agricultural microbiomes?

Speed Networking

Morning Refreshments

Assessing Metabolism and Interspecies Interactions in Microbial Communities via Metaproteomics


  • Metaproteomics encompasses all methods to identify and quantify proteins in microbial communities on a large scale
  • This allows us to infer crucial metabolism, physiology and microbe-microbe and microbe-plant interactions in microbial communities
  • We are currently optimizing metaproteomics to study plant-microbiome interactions particularly in the rhizosphere

Mind the Gap – A Sequencing Conundrum


Introduction and Purpose:

Light years of progress have been made in terms of microbial genome sequencing. However, there remains a gap in understanding how, why and when microbial products perform at a fundamental genomic level. The purpose of this session is to present new approaches to genome sequencing, bioinformatics and metatranscriptomics and understand how sequencing platforms are accelerating microbial products along the development pipeline.

Ecology in Industry—Characterizing and Modifying Crop Microbiomes to Increase Yields


  • Industry relies on academia for fundamental research.
  • There are gaps in knowledge of the plant microbiome and areas for collaboration with industry to fill those gaps.
  • Sequencing and modelling advances are needed to develop tools to make microbial products more effective.

Performance Biologicals: Building a Discovery Platform for Microbes with Novel Modes of Actions

  • Kirk Francis Manager-Performance Biologicals & Trait Knowledge , BASF


  • Combining metagenomics with machine learning to identify microbes associated with traits of interest
  • Targeted isolation results in focused functional strain collection
  • Platform is adaptable to multiple areas of interest – from agriculture to cosmetics

The GALT High Throughput Microbial Cultivation System, a New Era in Soil & Plant Microbiome Research


  • It’s time to revolutionize microbiome science with greater understanding of microbes and microbiome communities. Deep insights are the foundation for microbial applications in agriculture, human health, environment and industry.
  • The GALT high throughput microbial cultivation technology is ushering in a new era in soil and plant microbial research and development.
  • The GALT ProspectorÔ system, with its micro-fabricated array, and high-throughput sampling capabilities will enable microbiome researchers to isolate, cultivate, and screen microbes at a scale not previously possible.

Digging for Answers in Long Read Technologies


  • Can long read technologies enable genome assembly from metagenomics samples?
  • Will long reads enable greater functional understanding?
  • How do we manage all the data and metadata?

Shotgun Metagenomics in Crop Ag: From R&D to Field Trials


  • More details to follow

Lunch and Networking

Fermentation & Formulation Methods Amenable to Scale Up & Delivery of Consistently Performing Products


Introduction and Purpose:
The industry remains united in its challenges over formulation and scale-up of production. Questions remain unanswered about the best modes of delivery, whilst lack of stability and variable performance of microbial derived products has resulted in inconsistent levels of grower adoption of these technologies. This session aims to reimagine the established science of fermentation and formulation in order to facilitate microbial product development.

The Microbial Formulation Challenge—A Processing & Stability Review

  • Roy Chen Formulation Team Lead, ADAMA US


  • Key to microbial fermentation process
  • Manage downstream formulations
  • Discuss stability issues of microbial spores
  • Summary

Optimization of Microbiome-Based Ag-Biologicals Product Candidates to Address Efficacy, Stability and Commercial Viability


  • Exploring the challenges of developing live microbial-based Ag-Biologicals products
  • Utilizing of computational predictive biology platform, along product development process, to address key challenges
  • Function based design implementation examples (e.g. teaming, formulation, fermentation)

From Shake Flask to Pilot Scale – Scaling Fermentation and Formulation


  • Scaling fermentation can lead to changes in microbial growth and condition
  • Trade-offs in fermentation cost efficiency and microbial condition can impact formulation effectiveness
  • Strategies for overcoming trade-offs and improving formulation will be discussed

Optimising Production of Agbiologicals to Align with Increasing Market and Farmer Needs


  • Adapting production capacity from fermentation to recovery, can increase efficiency of production to not only meet high volume requirements, but also deliver high quality products
  • Combining different approaches to formulation (supports and modes of delivery) to result in easy, efficient use by farmers on their crops while keeping product viability for sustained time periods.

Panel Discussion: Can New Approaches Towards Formulation Truly Increase Product Stability Before Field Application?


  • Can new approaches towards formulation reduce batch to batch variability and prolong product shelf life before field application?
  • How can scientists ensure that strains will be able to invade, colonize, persist and remain efficacious in the environment?
  • Can you address time control over microbial release?
  • How can groups of microbial strains be used to ensure or buffer invasion and persistence of one specific strain?
  • Can you measure the impact of different agbiological products in soil over time?

Afternoon Refreshments and Networking

Establishing Gold Standards for Greenhouse & Field Trials


Introduction and Purpose:
Gold standard expectations for randomized controlled trials set by the chemical industry are not applicable to the testing of microbial products. There is a huge need to re-define best practice for conducting greenhouse and field trials and ensure that this is communicated to the chemical industry that conducts testing of microbial-based Ag products. The purpose of this theme will be to rethink the benchmarks for greenhouse & field trials in order to demonstrate the true value of using agbiologicals to improve yields, productivity and environmental sustainability.

Remote Sensing Imagery, Signal or Noise: Validating the Approach and Making Lead Decisions


  • The capabilities of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)
  • How to manage and validate complex data sets
  • The best measures for microbial treatments in corn

Breakout Roundtables


How can we best communicate the value of microbial derived products to growers and the public?

How is the cumulative impact of pollution, contaminated water ways and agchemicals causing antimicrobial resistance to biotic stressors of crops?

Realizing the full potential of agbiologicals requires holistic approaches to understanding both the ecosystem of the plant-soil microbiome and the ecosystem of the product development value chain. The purpose of this theme is to address broader questions regarding agbiologicals in an informal setting to build a better understanding of their critical need and use.

Chairperson Closing Remarks

Close of Conference Day One: Evening Drinks Reception & Poster Session Hosted by the Microbiome Movement


After the formal presentations have finished, the learning and networking carries on. The Poster Session held during the Drinks Reception is an informal part of the conference agenda, allowing you to connect with your peers in a relaxed atmosphere and continue to forge new and existing relationships.