Activity Report of Open Application Program 2021 vol.6 (Alternative Online)
Fermentation Technology in Japan
-from isolation of microorganisms to fermentation and quality control-
Report from the International Center for Biotechnology, Osaka University
The International Center for Biotechnology, Osaka University invited approx. 120 students and young faculty staffs from seven Asian countries and region (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Taiwan) and held an online workshop from November 15th to 16th, 2021 to introduce Japanese fermentation technology and the latest research in the relevant field. Participants learned the science underlying fermentation technologies and how the findings in fundamental research can be applied to practical industry.
Professor Kusumoto Kenichi (Laboratory of Breeding Engineering for Koji Mold, Osaka University) gave a lecture entitled "The science of koji mold and Japanese traditional fermented food". The function and biochemistry of koji mold, which are also known as "the national microorganism" of Japan, in the manufacturing of fermented food are presented in the lecture.
In the following lecture, Dr. Yohanes Novi Kurniawan (Asahi Quality and Innovations, Ltd) provided a lecture entitled "The unlikely foe: Lactobacillus spp." Dr. Kurniawan has been working at his company after obtaining his PhD at Osaka University. In the lecture, he introduced his own experiences of studying in Japan as an international student and working at a Japanese company.
On the second day, Associate Professor Kitani Shigeru, the International Center for Biotechnology, Osaka University, gave a lecture on the antibiotics production by microorganisms (lecture title: What are antibiotics produced by microorganisms?). He provided a broad overview of the research field including the classification and molecular mechanism of various antibiotics-producing microorganisms.
Lastly, Assistant Professor Sastia Prama Putri, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, gave a lecture entitled "Quality improvement of Asian fermented food: a metabolomics approach". The lecture introduced the quality evaluation of various foods, including Southeast Asian fermented foods like tempeh, using metabolomics technology. In addition, based on her experiences as an international student at Osaka University, she gave advice to students who are interested in studying in Japan.
At the end of the series of lectures, an online meetup event was held. The session was held by inviting about 70 students from the workshop participants, and seven international students, who are currently studying in Osaka University, joined the as hosts. In a group talk using Zoom's breakout room function, each of host students introduced their research and daily life and communicated with participants.
Because of the boarder restriction policies due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Sakura Science Exchange Program is still in a difficult situation. Nevertheless, online events provide us easier communication with our international partners and have a distinct advantage over face-to-face (offline) events. Making the use of strong points of both online and offline communication would facilitate our international exchange activities in the post-COVID era.