Minutes of the ISPB AGM 2014

Minutes of the International Society for Plasmid Biology

General Meeting, Palm Cove, Australia,

Thursday, October 30, 6.45 pm

Officers presiding:

Past President Laura Frost

Current Secretary Eva Top

Current Treasurer Christopher M. Thomas

  1. Welcome

The ISPB past President Laura Frost opened the meeting and welcomed the participants.

Current President Manuel Espinosa sent his apologies.

  1. Attendance

The Conference was attended by 104 delegates, the majority of whom were present for the ISPB General Meeting.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

Slade Jensen moved to approve the agenda, seconded by Beth Traxler. All attending members were in favor. The agenda was approved.

  1. Approval of the minutes from the previous General Meeting, Santander, Spain


Chris D Thomas moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Gunther Koraimann. The minutes were approved.

  1. Approval of the updated constitution

Neville Firth moved to accept the updated constitution; the motion was seconded by Julian Rood. The modified constitution was approved.

  1. Nominations for President, Secretary and Treasurer followed by election

Nominations for President: Dhruba K. Chattoraj; Secretary: Eva Top, and Treasurer: Christopher M. Thomas.

All were approved.

  1. Association with SGM

Background information on the role of ISPB and the previous discussion in Santander on a possible association with SGM was provided in Appendix 2 of the Minutes of the previous ISPB meeting. Last time Chris proposed to form an association with SGM, the Society for Microbiology, which is the largest Microbiology society in the UK. The goal was particularly for them to look over the finances and make/maintain a website. Right now ISPB has a bank account in the UK with signature authority by Chris D and Chris M Thomas. Last meeting we agreed that ISPB back Chris to negotiate with SGM and come back with a proposal on what kind of relationship we could have with SGM. In the mean time Chris M. Thomas has also been elected as the Treasurer of SGM (from September 2013) and has been in a position to discuss these issues directly with the SGM team. However, SGM has been through a period of turbulence with a move from Reading to London and a change in Chief Executive Officer. This has made it essential for SGM to consolidate its activities before SGM could consider acting as a home for smaller groups or societies as we have proposed. There was continued interest in associating with SGM. SGM does see this as potentially feasible and desirable in the longer term and could potentially be involved in helping with the organisation of the 2016 meeting in the UK. Chris M. proposed to continue talking to SGM about a possible relationship with ISPB.

There were a few concerns from a few members:

Fernando de la Cruz asked about the subscription cost to ISPB

Igor Konieczny had concerns about joining SGM given the unclear financial consequences.

Julian Rood asked whether SGM is comfortable associating with ISPB given that we

have a journal (PLASMID) that is with another publisher.

There was general agreement that ISPB members would rather see ISPB remain as a separate Society than become a group within SGM.

Chris acknowledged these concerns and agreed to come back to ISPB with specific proposals that do not jeopardize the independence of ISPB and that are financially doable.

  1. Financial Report:

At ICPB2012 in Santander the ISPB bank account stood at £8,338.06.

Following ICPB2012 the sum of £4,471.57 was transferred to the ISPB bank account to cover the attendees at the conference. This brought the total ISPB assets to £12,809.63.

The organisers of ICPB 2014 requested AUD 10,000 (£6,561.25 at the exchange rates when the transfer was done) as a deposit to retain the services of the Conference organisers and book the hotel venue. This was to be returnable to ISPB once the conference broke even plus any profit made.

As a result it was felt prudent to not disburse any further funds as travel bursaries.

The current balance is therefore £6,248.38.

A motion to accept the financial report was made by Konny Smalla; seconded by Chris D Thomas. All were in favour of accepting the report.

  1. Journal Plasmid: update by Editor-in-Chief Julian Rood.

When Julian took over the journal was struggling: submissions were dwindling and IF was down to 1.2. During the last 12 months the number of submissions has gone up, as has the rejection rate, thus increasing the quality. The IF went up from a low of 1.2 to 1.7. A few strategies were proposed:

Increasing the number of key reviews (mini) in important topics. Saleem Khan is now the review editor and has been very active.

Special issues: 1) Kurt Nordstrom special issue; 2) Santander meeting special issue; 3) small RNA molecules special issue (by Manuel Espinosa and Maria Pilar Garcillan Barcia) and 4) a special issue of this meeting.

Ideas for another special issue were solicited. We need to increase the IF so we attract good papers.

  1. Venue and organizers of future meetings

– The next meeting will be held September 19-23, 2016 at Clare College, Cambridge, subject to securing a good financial package. Organisers will be David Summers and Chris M. &

Chris D. Thomas. Cambridge is within easy travelling distance from London; Chris M.

Thomas will try to get the Sanger Institute involved.

– 2018: Eva Top and Beth Traxler agreed to organize the 2018 meeting in or close to Seattle,


Laura Frost closed the meeting at 7:24pm.

Appendix 1.

A discussion about the naming of plasmids and annotation of their genes was held prior to the General Meeting.

It was accepted that plasmid names should follow rules suggested by Novick et al., Bact Rev

40(1): 168-189 (1976). It should continue to conform to the format pXY1234 with a small “p” followed by an alphanumeric that reflects the locus tag approved for a sequencing project by GenBank or other members of the INSDC group (Intl Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration). The locus tag is a 3-12 alphanumeric that typically reflects the strain or source of the sequencing project and is checked for uniqueness by Genbank staff. If a strain or source (metagenome project) has more than one plasmid, plasmids should be numbered consecutively as 1,2,3,4 or a,b,c,d etc.

Gene annotation remains more problematic. In general, genes should be reported using their locus tag with putative functions or homologies listed under /note etc in GenBank or in a table in publications. The IPBS needs to define names for common functions on plasmids and discourages naming genes after other genes already in the database. For instance, gene names such as rep, par, inc, cop, tra, rlx, etc should be used.