The Japanese Government has selected Kazuhiko Takeuchi (age 69), President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and Satoshi Tabata (age 66), Vice Chairman and Director of the Kazusa DNA Research Institute, as recipients of the 2021 (15th) MIDORI Academic Prize. The MIDORI Academic Prize is awarded by the Prime Minister to individuals for their notable academic achievements in so-called "green" (Midori) areas of research, including research and technology development related to plants, forestry, green spaces, landscaping, and nature conservation. The prizes were presented at the MIDORI Ceremony on April 23.
Takeuchi was selected for his work, "Practical landscape ecology and developing it into sustainability science, to realize a society in harmony with nature."
Takeuchi’s work includes proposing comprehensive regional environmental management planning methodologies based on the objective and quantitative evaluation of environmental conservation functionality in order to establish the study of landscape ecology, while also leading the Satoyama Initiative to research the scenic structure of traditional rural and mountainous farming regions (Satochi and Satoyama) and the maintenance mechanisms of biodiversity to communicate the importance of conservation and use of secondary natural ecosystems throughout the world.
He has also applied his research results to sustainability science, which aims to rebuild sustainable socio-ecological systems, while working for the application thereof to society, such as by providing academic support for activities for Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems recognition by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Due to these achievements and his outstanding communication abilities, he has pioneered research on achieving a society of coexistence for people and nature and contributed to expanding the activities for sustainable regional environmental development throughout Japan.
Tabata was selected for his work, "Advancement of Plant Genomics and its Application to Sustainable Farming Systems Beginning with the Genome Analysis of Photosynthetic Blue-Green Algae."
Tabata was the first to publish the complete genome of a photosynthetic organism, blue-green algae, making a major contribution to the understanding of photosynthesis in plants with chloroplasts. He also played a major role in an international effort to analyze the nucleic genome of the arabidopsis, making a major contribution to the understanding of the evolution of plant genomes by discovering the transition from the gene of blue-green algae to the nucleus of plants, while building a foundation for the understanding of the diverse genetic functions of crops.
He also contributed to understanding the mechanism of the symbiotic relationship of Rhizobium on the roots of legumes, opening up a potential path to developing crops which require limited nitrogen based fertilizer and have less environmental impact, while also building a database of plant genetic data. Through these achievements, he developed the domain of plant genomics while making a major contribution to the development of a sustainable farming production system based on genomic data.
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