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Protistology Conferences: The Beginnings. The First International Protozoology Conference (Prague 1961) and the Tribute to Otto Jírovec, its Spiritual Father

Vávra, Jiří
Thejournal of eukaryotic microbiology 2018 v.65 no.5 pp. 733-741
biosphere, protists, United States
Two events have helped to shape protozoology/protistology as a specific scientific discipline. The first such event was the creation of the Society of Protozoologists in the U.S. in 1947 (and of its Journal of Protozoology, first published in 1954), the second event was the First International Conference on Protozoology, held in 1961 in Prague. The history of the Society of Protozoologists was comprehensively treated by Corliss (1998); the history of the Prague Conference is presented here as reminiscences and personal interpretation of events of the author, who was one of the conference organizers and a member of the organization committee. Special attention is given to the personality and scientific accomplishments of Otto Jírovec, the 1961 conference spiritual father and president. It is concluded that the Prague Conference, while establishing the tradition of protistology meetings, helped protistology to attain its present status as a fundamental science discipline, which discovers and interprets the web of life at one of its, basic, “microbial” levels. Protists literally permeate the earth biosphere and in a way represent the “dark matter” of the living world, still awaiting many discoveries.