Kiwamu Minamisawa, 15th President of Japanese Society of Microbial Ecology
What is Microbial Ecology?
This is a history that the field of microbiology in Japan developed as applied research of the fields of medicine and fermentation. On the other hand, in the United States and Europe, microbiology is also positioned as the fundamental biology that established the base for current molecular genetics. However, very little was understood about the way of life and functioning of microorganisms on the planet, and their role in the ecosystem.
Microbial ecology is a young interdisciplinary area with a very wide range of territory covering diversity of microorganisms and material environment at the global scale encompassing geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, evolution and progress of life, mutual influence between various species, environmental protection and purification technologies, technologies based on microorganism functions, elucidation of dynamics of pathogenic microorganisms, and food production using effective microorganisms. We are proud that microbial ecology is a comprehensive study in the 21st century, which is also said to be the century of the environment.
Era of environmental microorganisms hunting
In microbiology so far, research works for shedding light on functioning of microorganisms separated and cultured in agar medium occupied the mainstream. However, the majority of microorganisms in the environment are from microbial community that is difficult to culture. Given that, how to investigate such microorganisms? One of the solutions is removing DNA and RNA or microorganisms from environmental sample, which can help in explaining diversity, functions, and mutual influence of microorganisms in the environment based on sequence information. Moreover, we can actually see these changes using various monitoring technologies, and these days, comprehensive approach like metagenomic analysis is also developed. Diversity and functions of microorganisms in the environment is believed to be enormous like dark matter in space science, and they hold various clues that can help in reaching out to various unknown phenomena happening in the environment. In the history of biology, continuing from the earlier era of enzyme chasing and gene chasing, we have entered into the era of environmental microorganism chasing.
Direction of Japanese Society of Microbial Ecology
Japanese Society of Microbial Ecology is very actively engaged in various activities such as academic exchange through annual conference, dissemination of information in Japan and overseas through its publishing activities, educational activities through outreach programs, and a range of activities for nurturing young researchers. Salient features of this society are placing emphasis on the initiatives taken by its members and vigorous activities by young members. Experienced professionals lead in the area of learning and act as counselors for young members. For further development of such activities of Japanese Society of Microbial Ecology, we would like to run and operate the society based on the following policy.
• Strengthening cross-sectional activities
Microbial ecology is a very wide field dealing in diversity, functions, and mutual influence of microorganisms in various ecological systems, and it is gaining importance as fundamental science and applied science for solving social problems. In specific terms, it has many touch points with environmental science, geoscience, molecular biology, biotechnology, etc., and by proactively holding annual conference and symposiums jointly with the related societies, we would like to contribute to the development of borderline areas. Besides, we will also collaborate with other societies in Japan in a cross-sectional manner (Federation of Microbiological Societies of Japan, The Union of Japanese Societies for Biological Science, etc.).
• Strengthening of international activities
Starting from the foundation of this society, the International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME) is given a lot of importance, and some of the members of the society are elected as ISME committee members, and many members have participated in ISME symposiums. In August 2014, ISME 15 was held in Seoul, South Korea, where we played a very active role. We will also provide structured support to research exchange symposiums of microbial ecology held in various Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan, as well as other international conference related to microorganisms held in Japan.
• Development of International Journal Microbes and Environments (M&E)
M&E is an international academic journal jointly edited with Japanese Society of Soil Microbiology, and it has received the highest official rating (IF=2.444) among Asia’s microbiology journals, and it is stored in various literature databases including PubMed. It is ideal that student members and ordinary members can easily post in this journal, but still maintaining high official rating. We would like to improve and upgrade M&E website and editing system in collaboration with the editing committee. Besides, as we have clearly defined benefits for members such as posting charges, we look forward to publication of high impact research outcomes in M&E by members. We would like to request non-members to contribute to the journal after become a member.
4) Strengthening of PR activities and group activities
PR activities are important social contribution of societies; however, in this Internet driven society, role of website has become extremely important. Based on the existing website, we will upgrade and provide much more information on the website. Please do send information about your paper publications and photographs of microorganisms. Various activities such as group activities (education group, anaerobic group, diversity group, biofilm group, social microbial group, group of young members), Eco-Camp, network of female researchers, and creature micro expedition group activities are salient features of this society, where young members play very important role. We will undertake them aggressively as a part of PR activities and research promotion.
As mentioned by Mr. Kogure, the former president of the society, the only charm and appeal of this society is the charm and appeal of microbial ecology. Members passionately discuss about what they think is interesting about microorganisms in the system. This society must provide a platform that would attract a lot of people, and that would contribute to the development of research work of members through such platform. Especially, by consciously offering opportunities to young members for growing as a researcher, we expect that it would pave a path for highly original research work that would support microbial ecology of the world.
We request all non-members who are interested in this society to please come forward and join. Let us discuss and create new microbial ecology. We look forward to welcoming you all.