Microbiology 101: A Preconference Workshop at Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024

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Learn more from Patrick Bird about the hands-on microbiology workshop at the upcoming Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024.

In this interview, Patrick Bird, Senior Manager of Scientific Affairs at bioMérieux, discusses the topics covered in the pre-conference workshop, “Microbiology 101: So Easy Anyone Can Do It.” He is also a presenter in the Analytical Track and the author of the Feature Article, “Let’s Talk About It: Cannabis Remediation,” in the January/February issue of Cannabis Science and Technology.

The workshop is designed for individuals (laboratory personnel, cultivators, regulators, and auditors) interested in or currently performing microbiology testing. The information provided and the ‘hands-on’ learning will help participants develop and reassess their own facilities microbiological processes.

Check out the video, read the transcript below, and register here for Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024! See you in Kansas City, Missouri May 7–9, 2024!


Read more about what to expect in the workshop and conference:

What will be covered in the upcoming workshop “Microbiology 101: So Easy Anyone Can Do It”?

Patrick Bird: We're really, truly blessed with this workshop; we have a great panel of trainers from some really strong organizations. They have a really in depth background on Microbiology and Molecular Biology, so we titled this session as Microbiology 101 to really capture everything that's done under the microbiology umbrella. But that does include a molecular analysis too. Most people are common with PCR, but we are branching out a little bit to talk about loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) technology, which is another type of molecular biology.

So we really have a two-track session that we're going to be discussing. And this is going to be going down to the basics of both education and hands-on learning. So we have a cultural microbiology track, which will be done from the trainers from Method Testing Lab, Anthony Repay, and April Schumacher, from Neogen. They're going to focus on basics of setting up samples, how you set up an area properly, disinfecting and cleaning—aseptic technique is part of that process—to actually preparing sample plates, and then how you would actually interpret those results. So everything that a lab analyst would do in a given day, they're going to cover from that initial step to the final step.

In the other track that we have, it's going to be a molecular biology, one-on-one type session. So we're going to introduce the participants to PCR technology and other molecular approaches, how they work, and then we're going to talk about how you would set up a PCR lab and actually go through some demos where you'll actually pipette some samples, and how to interpret software results. And the key thing with this workshop is that we really wanted to emphasize participant interaction. So each group is going to have the opportunity to take some fun quizzes, participate in some of the demos, and there will be some small prizes that we give out to the participants who are active and are really going with the program.

What are you excited to learn at the Cannabis Science Conference?

Bird: So one of the things I love about this conference is that there's the different tracks. So you have the analytical, the compliance, the medical, the cultivation track. So there's a little bit of everything. Now I am a lab nerd. That's how I came up in the industry, so I really like to get into some of the analytical findings. I'm also always intrigued when we start to have regulatory groups come and present. They have the authority in the states to keep labs in operation, make decisions that really impact the public health component of what we all try to do on a day-to-day basis. Matthew Ward from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is presenting on how labs can do internal validations. And this is really key for us as a method development organization. Because what we do is a very small scale validation in the terms of the methods overall use. We usually will take a small subset of matrices, and then we evaluate those as part of the certification process. But end using labs really have a wide variety of matrices that they have to test. So that next phase in how labs do it is really something that differs from state to state and from lab to lab. So hearing how a regulatory agency approaches that is something that I'm very interested to hear about.

In addition to that, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, is going to be presenting on some yeast and mold data that they've collected from outdoor grows. I find this interesting because a majority of the testing that I've been involved with has been indoor cultivation. And to see how their data from an outdoor facility may or may not impact the decisions they make going forward in their state to me, it's very interesting.

There was one other topic that that I wanted to at least mention on here, because I find it interesting. So one of my colleagues at our microbiology workshop, Anthony Repay from Method Testing Lab, is going to be speaking to how they've incorporated a surfactant into some of their testing. So this is interesting because we don't typically use surfactants on the microbiology side, unless it's a very specific, say, matrix combination. I've seen more so done in the food industry and very niche fields. I haven't seen it applied yet in the cannabis industry, so I'm intrigued to hear how they've applied it, what they've done to validate that, and what data he's able to present during the meeting.