SLTB 2018 Meeting Report 

Guest Post by Alasdair Kay, University of York, United Kingdom 

Prague 6-7th September 2018

SLTB_Group
SLTB Meeting Group Photo. Click for high res. 

This year’s annual Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB) scientific meeting and AGM was held at the Crop Research Institute (CRI) in Prague, Czechia. The hosts, helmed by Dr Milos Faltus, had prepared an excellent space for the meeting, with a whole building seemingly dedicated to the SLTB. As always, the meeting was characterised by the SLTB’s cross-disciplinary nature. The meeting opened with an introduction from the director of the CRI, Dr Jiban Kumar, and the SLTB President Dr Glyn Stacey, who also conveyed an award to Dr Vladimír Skládal in recognition of his year’s of service in Czechia at the forefront of cryobiology research.

The meeting was broadly split into 4 sessions with keynotes and selected abstracts. The first day started with a talk from our host on the subject of cryobanking vegetatively propagated plants, an excellent introduction to the site and research being undertaken. This would later be reinforced by a tour of the CRI. Feedback from our plant cryopreservation experts remarked on the excellent planning put into the layout and build of the CRI, and a particular interest in the corridors and walk-in freezers permanently held at refrigerated and frozen temperatures (5C, -20C) which were a cool relief from the sunny days! Prague is a city world-famous for its beer production, and this was pleasingly reflected in the talks on crop research that focussed on hops and beer production. We would be able to experience these first-hand later that evening at the conference dinner.

The remainder of the first day had an emphasis on human tissue preservation, legislative changes and developing technologies. Glyn Stacey gave a report on the SLTB led workshop held at UCL in May 2018 on sub-normothermic storage and shipment of cells which reinforced SLTB’s intention to support special topic workshops. Pavel Mericka delivered a nice review of the Tissue Bank at the University Hospital of Hradec Kralove which also highlighted the importance of getting experts in the field to meet and discuss the broad issues relevant to ongoing research, such as cryoprotectant toxicity. These kind of discussions really come out in SLTB meetings where the broad similarities between fields connected through low temperature biology overlap.

In the evening, the delegates took a bus to the National Museum of Agriculture. The conference gala event started on the roof of the museum, where we were treated to some truly spectacular views of the beautiful city of Prague before descending to an excellent buffet style dinner. After, as well as the local beers and wines, the liquid nitrogen was flowing as the chef made ice creams and sorbets for dessert. The evening was rounded off with a historic tram tour that allowed all the delegates to enjoy the sights and sounds of Prague. The poster prize winner was announced as Martin Golan for a poster on the use of immunofluorescence microscopy to describe cryopreserved cell nuclei which one of the poster judges described as quite possibly a perfect poster.

National Museum Rooftop
LN Gelato and Sorbet
Enjoying a Trolley Ride through Prague Prague at Dusk

Click for high res.

The second day of the meeting built on the first, kicking off with an enthralling talk on iPSC megakaryocyte cryopreservation from Dr Denys Pogozhykh followed by two talks on the challenges of stepped vitrification for ovarian tissue. Carmen Martin followed this with a riveting talk on an emerging area of research, the epigenetic changes that cells and tissue may go through during cryopreservation. This is, no doubt, going to be something we hear much more about in the coming years, as it really drills down into the question of how cells are affected by the cryopreservation process, even when they seem to function unchanged.

After lunch, the Young Scientist keynote talk was expertly delivered by Eva Hejdukóva on the subject cryoresistance in polar microalgae. This was followed a little later by my personal highlight of the meeting, a review of ice nucleation due to pollen grains given by Elias Anastassopoulos. Once again, delegates were able to connect seemingly disparate fields of research all linked by the common theme of low temperature, and it is so refreshing to enjoy talks on such a variety of themes, including environmental cryophenomena. The meeting was rounded out by talks from Ramon Risco, our host for next year’s SLTB meeting in Seville, and one of our long-standing members and trustee of the society, Hugh Pritchard.

Hugh Pritchard, RBG Kew
Hugh Pritchard from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Click for high res. 

Overall, the meeting was a great success and clearly the hosts at the CRI had put a wealth of effort into ensuring the meeting ran successfully. The SLTB has expressed a determination to expand their membership through increased interactions with members through workshops, expert opinion pieces as well as at conference level, and 2019 looks to be an exciting time ahead for the membership!

 Did you enjoy this report? Contribute your event report to our newsletter and website!