15th International symposium on the biology the Actinomycetes; Shanghai 2009  

    This special issue of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek contains a selection of papers from the ISBA 15 conference, held from August 20–25th, 2009 at the Shanghai International Convention Centre, on the Huangpu River with a spectacular view across to the famous Pudong Bund. More than 600 scientists from 40 different countries attended, including an encouragingly high proportion of young people, and the quality of their scientific presentations matched the impressive facilities of the conference venue. Poster sessions provided ample opportunities for informal scientific discussion and the conference was very well organised, with Prof Zixin Deng as Chair of the Organizing Committee. It was a very difficult task to pick out these papers from so many excellent contributions, but they were chosen because we thought they represented some of the exciting new work covering the wide breadth of the impact of Actinomycetes on human existence.
    This conference was especially notable since it celebrated the scientific careers of two very eminent scientists, whose contributions to our understanding of these organisms is remarkable, Prof. Mike Goodfellow MBE and Prof. Sir David Hopwood FRS Both were influential in establishing these regular gatherings as important scientific forums, which have grown in size since the first one held in Jena in 1968. As with all the subsequent ISBA symposia, this was attended by Mike. A moving eulogy from Sir David Hopwood commemorating the scientific contributions to actinomycete research of Professor Sueharu Horinouchi, who sadly died shortly before ISBA15 also gave this conference a special poignancy.
    The same structure used so successfully at previous ISBA meetings was adopted here. A mixture of 10 Plenary lectures and nine concurrent sessions, namely Biological insights from omics; Natural products and biosynthesis; Systematics and diversity; Morphological differentiation; Actinomycetes related biotechnology and bioengineering; Pathogenic actinomycetes; Combinatorial biosynthesis and pathway engineering; Physiology and genetics; Regulatory networks and Actinomycetes and environment. In each session, invited speakers presented a rich
offering of world class science from the leading workers in actinomycete research. Two workshops, Mining of actinomycetes and one devoted to student presentations were held on the final afternoon with two prizes awarded during the closing ceremony to Leonard Kaysser (University of Tu¨bingen) and Guang Liu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University).
    The closing lecture was presented by Mike Goodfellow who gave a typically provocative and amusing lecture on: Systematics is classified as ‘‘a discipline in critical decline’’: does this matter? The final event was a celebratory party held in the Convention Centre Ballroom for Mike’s retirement, in recognition of his successful career as a renowned actinomycete systematist. Over the past 35 years, Mike has successfully supervised 62 Ph.D, 5 M.Phil and innumerable M.Sc. students. In addition to promoting actinomycete biology internationally, Mike has also amassed over 14 Edited Books, 371 Original Papers and 100 Review Articles and was a previous Editor-in-Chief of this journal. It is our pleasure to further celebrate his achievements with this Special Issue.
    We hope you enjoy the papers included here and share our view that they reflect the excellent science presented at ISBA 15. We would like to thank most sincerely all those who agreed to write articles for this special issue, and their patience and cooperation during the reviewing process. Equally we would like to thank our colleagues who applied strict standards during their manuscript refereeing ensuring that the final papers were suitably presented.
    We also hope you will all attend ISBA16 in Mexico in 2011, where the wonderfully relaxing ambience so special with these conferences again allows us to share our excitement about the biology of the actinomycetes.

 A. L. Jones
(&) Biomolecular and Biomedical Research Centre,
School of Applied Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
L. Zhang
Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
L. Bai
Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, China
R. Seviour (&) Biotechnology Research Centre, La Trobe University,
Bendigo, VIC 3552, Australia 

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