The institute was founded in 1914 (Taisho, 3rd year according to traditional Japanese calendar) by Magosaburo Ohara, leading entrepreneur and philanthropist of Kurashiki City, founder of Kurabo corporation (a major fabric producer) and Ohara Museum of Art featuring the first collection of Western art permanently exhibited in Japan. Originally named as Ohara Institute for Agricultural Research, it was a private establishment that aimed improvement of welfare of farmers and promotion of agriculture in Japan.
After the Second World War, due to loss of its financial base, mainly because of implementation of post-war agrarian reforms in Japan, the institute was transferred to Okayama University in 1952 (Showa 27). One year later, in 1953 (Showa 28), the institute was renamed to the Institute for Agricultural Biology and it was officially affiliated with the Okayama University. The institute initially included five departments (Applied Entomology, Biochemistry, Plant Genetics, Plant Pathology and Plant Physiology). The establishment of Barley Germplasm Center in 1979, and formation of three additional departments [Micrometeorology (1960), Biological Water Quality Science (1966), Weed Science (1970)] assured continuous expansion and growth of the institute in the following years.
In 1988 (Showa 63), progress in novel research technologies and changing demands of modern society prompted additional reorganization and renaming of the institute to the Research Institute for Bioresources (RIB), Okayama University.
After National University reforms in 2004 (Heisei 16), the institute was officially approved by the Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture, Science and Technology in Japan as a “center-of-excellence” in the fields of plant genetic resources and plant stress science in 2009. On April-1, 2010 (Heisei 22), the institute acquired its current name, Institute of Plant Science and Resources (IPSR). It is recognized at national level as “Joint Usage/Research Center” in plant stress science, research core for new generation crops, and center for barley and wild plant bioresources. Currently, IPSR is organized into five research units that include Atmospheric Stress, Soil Stress, Biotic Stress, Genetic Resources and Applied Genetics. The institute quickly acquired a status of widely open and welcoming collaboration center for domestic and foreign researchers. Its current scientific mission aims development of new generation crops that will be suited for multitude of stress environments, and promote agricultural production in stress-affected areas worldwide.
Since April-1, 2012, the Institute of Plant Science and Resources is a part of newly established Okayama University Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science. It runs various graduate programs at Master (MSc) and Doctoral (PhD) levels that are closely associated with the research staff and laboratories located at Kurashiki campus.