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Research Groups

Research Core for Plant Stress Science
Plant stresses are classified into three major factors as described below, and research units corresponding to each stress factor are established to carry out collaborative researches. In each unit, plant stress responses and plant interactions with other organisms are being studied using various approaches of physiology, biochemistry, pathology and genetics. Barley and wild plant germplasm preserved at the institute will be effectively utilized to develop stress-tolerant crop plants.

Atmospheric Stress Unit
Under atmospheric environments that plants grow, fluctuation of light intensities, temperature and humidity can significantly reduce growth rate and ultimately affect crop yield. To acclimate to such atmospheric stresses, plants have evolved various ways by which growth defect can be minimized. Atmospheric Stress Research Unit focuses on light stress of photosynthetic apparatus in chloroplasts (Plant Light Acclimation Research Group), response to oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species (Cytomolecular Biochemistry Group), and roles of a phytohormone abscisic acids in drought (Environmental Response Systems Research Group), and aim in understanding mechanism(s) that tolerate plants to the atmospheric stresses at the molecular level. Combined with the use of available genetic resources, our research will facilitate engineering a crop acclimated to the atmospheric stresses.

Soil Stress Unit  
Problem soils including acid, alkaline, salt and heavy-metal contaminated soils comprise approximately 70% of world’s arable soils. Due to deficiency and/or excess of minerals, the productivity and quality of crops on these soils are low. Drought (shortage of soil water) is also one of the major limiting factors for crop production. It is a key to enhance the crop productivity and improve crop product safety on the problem soils in order to solve shortage problem of foods and fuels in future. In this unit, we focus on understanding the response and tolerance mechanisms of plants to problem soil stresses such as drought, salt, aluminum toxicity, iron deficiency, heavy metals, etc. Our goal is to breed crops with increased productivity and safety on the problem soils.

Biotic Stress Unit
Plants are exposed to various biotic stresses in the environment. Those are exemplified by infectious pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi, and destructive insects. By contrast, there are a number of microorganisms benefiting the healthy growth of plants, e.g., those infecting pathogens to plants to attenuate their virulence, soil-borne organisms mutualistic to plants, beneficial microorganisms residing on the aerial parts of plants. The ultimate goal of this unit is to achieve “Healthy Plant Growth.” To this end we study on plant responses aginst organisms influential to plant growth and molecular mechanisms of their effects, leading to better understanding of the dynamic interactions between plants and organisms, mainly microorganisms, and between microorganisms.


Atmospheric Stress Unit Soil Stress Unit Biotic Stress Unit

Group of Plant Light Acclimation Research

Group of Plant Stress Physiology

Group of Plant-Microbe Interactions

Group of Cytomolecular Biochemistry

Group of Plant Growth Regulation

Group of Plant-Insect Interactions

Group of Environmental Response Systems

Group of Molecular and Functional Plant Biology (Japanese Only)

Research Core for Future Crops
This Research Core comprises the Innovative research group and the International collaboration group. It is intended to develop the necessary research fields for the near future and to explore new conceptual studies for future crop production.

Innovative research group
To advance sustainable crop production, it is necessary to identify heretofore unknown stress-tolerance mechanisms that plants potentially have. To address stress tolerance for future crops, this group will develop a new analytical method and/or utilize genetic resources using various experimental strategies.

International collaboration group
From the standpoint of global environmental change and the resulting stresses to crops, characteristics of the present state on crop stress will be analyzed from international perspectives. This group will focus on stress-tolerant mechanisms that are necessary for crop production in the near future. At present, we are promoting joint investigations with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at Kenya targeting the East African region, aiming at improvement of crop productivity under stressful environmental conditions.


Innovative research group International collaboration group

Professor: M. Murata, Group Leader, Director of Institute, serving concurrently
Tenure-track Assistant Professor: Publicly sought, will arrive to take up this position in fiscal 2011
Mentor faculty member: Professor or Associate Professor, one person who serves concurrently

- Joint research with Kenya (Fiscal 2010–2012) -
 Professor: W. Sakamoto, group leader, serving concurrently
 Professor: M. Maekawa, serving concurrently
 Professor: Y. Yamamoto, serving concurrently
 Associate Professor: M. Katsuhara, serving concurrently
 Assistant Professor: A. Tani, serving concurrently
 Assistant Professor: R. Matsushima, serving concurrently
 Two faculty members from the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, to be appointed concurrently

Barley and Wild Plant Resource Center
Barley and Wild Plant Resource Center was established in 1997. Currently, the center consists of two research units, each of which includes some research groups. Genetic resources unit collects and preserves barley and wild plant species, providing users access to important resources for the future research and breeding activities. Applied genomics unit develops novel resources and techniques to utilize plant genetic resources in plant breeding. The center promotes the collaborative research by using above-described internationally significant resources and techniques in plant science.

Genetic resources unit
The unit preserves massive collection and detailed genomic information in barley. By using these tools, we analyze the barley gene functions, such as high environmental adaptability and traits of agricultural importance. The unit maintains the resource and information on seed samples and genome analysis in barley and wild plants to accelerate the comparative studies with other plant species, especially cereal crops. In wild plant collection, evaluation of stress tolerance and agriculturally important traits are to be conducted as future research directions.

Applied genomics unit
This unit aims at analyzing and identifying useful genes conferring resistance to environmental stresses in transposon-tagged and other mutants and also in wild plant species. In addition, we develop advanced transformation and order-made gene-modification techniques for generating plants tolerant to various environmental stresses.


Genetic resources unit Applied genomics unit

Group of Genome Diversity

Group of Nuclear Genomics

Group of Genetic Resources and Functions

Group of Genome Regulation

Group of Wild Plant Science



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