The third Young Microbiologists Symposium took place on the vibrant campus of the University of Dundee, Scotland, from the 2nd to 3rd of June 2014. The symposium attracted over 150 microbiologists from 17 different countries. The significant characteristic of this meeting was that it was specifically aimed at providing a forum for junior scientists to present their work. The meeting was supported by the Society for General Microbiology and the American Society for Microbiology, with further sponsorship from the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, and The Royal Society of Edinburgh. In this report, we highlight some themes that emerged from the many exciting talks and poster presentations given by the young and talented microbiologists in the area of microbial gene expression, regulation, biogenesis, pathogenicity, and host interaction.