About the Conference

Scope of the conference

The overall aim of the conference is to promote understanding of the role of the complex microbial ecosystems present in the digestive tract of man and animals, in maintaining health of the host. This includes elucidating links between the microbial ecology of the digestive tract and the roles of specific genes and microbial products in the interplay between micro-organisms, between micro-organisms and their hosts, and any effect of the host’s diet. The conference is of interest to those working to improve human and animal health and nutrition through manipulation of the microbiota.

Conference topics will include:

  • Diet, microbiota and intestinal health

  • Microbiome manipulations for animal health and production

  • Establishing the links between the microbiota and disease

  • The microbiome as a reservoir for novel compounds

  • Communicating science


Rowett-INRA 2018 will be the 11th Joint Symposium on gut microbiology organised by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Scotland (UK) and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Clermont-Ferrand-Theix (France).

Originally planned as a biennial meeting of the microbiology groups of the two institutes, the conference has grown to attract 270-400 delegates, many from Europe but also a significant number from the US, Japan and Australasia.

The topics included in the conference embrace gut microbiology of all animals, particularly man but also farm animals, birds and fish, as well as related technologies used to study microbial ecology, genomics, metagenomics, and so on. 

Plenary lectures are given by a few invited, distinguished speakers, but the emphasis of the conference is to give less experienced scientists an opportunity to present their data alongside more experienced scientists.  The Organising Committee thus select oral presentations from the abstracts submitted according to both the theme and the speaker’s background. 

Substantial amounts of time are devoted to poster sessions.  The conference will also incorporate a session on how best to communicate microbiome science to the general public, media, and policy makers.  An active social programme with a Scottish flavour forms an integral part of the conference.

Conference Themes

Diet, microbiota and intestinal health

Diet can have a major influence on human intestinal microbial composition and metabolic outputs, which in turn can have significant impacts on host health. This session will explore links between specific dietary components, gut microbiota and health, and will explore issues such as inter-individual variation in response to dietary supplements and interventions and the potential role for the gut microbiota in personalised nutrition.

Microbiota manipulations for animal health and production

The microbial community in the gut of animals including pigs, poultry and herbivorous livestock can have significant impacts on their health and production. There is much interest, therefore, in modulating the composition of the microbiota in the gut of animals to improve these aspects. Moreover, another recent development is the selection of animals for breeding that are able to balance feed efficiency and output with their environmental impact. The aim of this session is to report on the current understanding of the microbiota in the gut of ruminants, monogastrics and poultry and determine the effectiveness of these and other strategies to manipulate the gut microbial community.

Establishing mechanistic links between the gut microbiota and disease

The composition and activities of the gut microbiota have now been linked to a variety of diseases. This includes intestinal ailments, such as inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer, and systemic conditions including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and immunological dysfunction. How microbes and their signalling molecules interact with the mammalian brain and behaviour is also important. Much of the evidence implicating the microbiota is correlative, however, and a major challenge is to distinguish between association and causation. This session will focus on recent developments to determine more mechanistic links between the microbiota and diseases.

The microbiome as a reservoir for novel compounds

The mammalian gut metagenome is likely to be the source of an immense array of novel beneficial compounds, but is currently a largely untapped resource. Mining bacterial genomes should allow us to discover new enzymes, antimicrobials and natural bioactive products with potential biotechnological and pharmaceutical application. The pathways leading to the formation of some of these molecules may involve a number of genes and complicated regulatory linkages and therefore may present considerable challenges in elucidating their structure and biological activity. This session will highlight recent advances in identifying novel compounds of interest from the mammalian gut microbiome.

Communicating Science

The last decade has been one of tremendous excitement and progress in gut microbiome research, which has in turn driven increased interest from journalists, members of the public, and policy makers. One of the key challenges for scientists is to convey the excitement surrounding the microbiome, while avoiding overhype and also acknowledging that this area of research is hugely complex. In this session, invited speakers (Prof. Martin Blaser, Dr Lindsay Hall, Dr Paul Richards) will share their own experiences of presenting microbiome research to non-academic audiences, and we will also be given thoughts from a journalist’s perspective (Eleanor Bradford, ex-BBC). This will be followed by a Q&A session with the speakers, which will be open to participation from members of the audience, and followers on social media.


Key Dates

Registration and Abstract Submission Open

January 2018

Abstract Submission Deadline

28 February 2018

Now Closed

Abstract Review Decisions Communicated

End March 2018

 Registrations Open

Now Closed

Late Fee

After 12 May 2018