From the Chief Executive

Issue: Soil

07 May 2015 article

It was wonderful to meet so many of you at the Annual Conference and to listen to talks and discuss posters about the vast range of innovative science being conducted by members of the Microbiology Society. There were many highlights of the Conference but for me one of the most important was the launch of the Society’s new journal, Microbial Genomics.

As well as developing our portfolio of publications, Microbial Genomics will publish research that allows us to explore the origins, evolution and drivers associated with historical and contemporary disease outbreaks, in addition to applications related to the environment, agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry.

As the Society reaches the milestone of its 70th birthday, it is worth remembering that the founders of the Society wanted to support networks and connections between microbiologists working in ostensibly different fields but whose research, when combined, could have a greater impact. In their words, the Society existed “for the establishment and extension of common ground between all forms of microbiology”. That aim is as relevant today as it was seven decades ago, and Microbial Genomics is a very clear example of how biochemical techniques, used to reveal patterns in genetic information, can equally well be applied in a clinical setting or help to understand ecological and environmental processes.

This is typical of the output of the Society’s journals, which collectively have a huge impact not only in the scientific world but in practical settings and in the public consciousness. One indication of that is the level of interest in the Society’s blog, which, among many other subjects, runs a monthly round up of new species described in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. In the last year, the number of readers of the blog has doubled. Recent papers in the journals have covered evolution in Salmonella, pathogenicity in Actinobacillus, dogs’ susceptibility to human influenza, protein interactions in phages and medical reports about diseases as different as farmer’s lung disease and diarrhoea in toddlers in the developing world. This is the tip of a massive iceberg; we know we are publishing some of the best microbiology research from around the world because more and more authors are submitting their work to the Society’s journals. Well over 90% of the authors are based outside the UK or Ireland.

Sir David Baulcombe, who won this year’s Prize Medal for his brilliant plant science work, did not start out as a virologist. He pointed out that when his research interests led him into the field, the Microbiology Society provided a platform for him to meet established virologists and develop his understanding and experience. One of the things he specifically mentioned as valuable was publishing in the Journal of General Virology. For example, he was part of the team that published the complete nucleotide sequence of tobacco rattle virus in 1987. Early career scientists take note – people who publish in the Society’s journals can go on to great things, so start submitting to Microbial Genomics!

We want to keep the Society’s journals at the forefront of scientific publishing, which is why we have invested in new technologies and partnerships this year, to provide the best service to authors, readers and referees, and why we are looking at how we can recognise the contributions that those referees are making to scientific progress.

As in all of the Society’s work on behalf of the scientific community, we are keen to ensure that our scientific publishing operation is as closely aligned as possible with the needs and ambitions of microbiologists in universities and research institutes, industrial laboratories and hospitals. So please email me to let me know what you think about Microbiology, the Journal of General Virology, the Journal of Medical MicrobiologyJMM Case Reports and the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.


Chief Executive
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