RIST Outline

Division of Agri-biotechnology

Director  Hiroaki Shimada: Professor, Department of Biological Science and Technology, Faculty of Industrial Science & Technology  
Research Content Basic research for improved biomass production in view of the biotechnology and engineering
Objetcitves We hope to establish a steady and sustainable Agri-biotechnology system that leads to an innovation for improvement of the plant biomass productivity.

-The Research Highlight, 2016-

Faced to the climate change on earth such as global warming, and the explosive increase of global population. System construction for the steady supply of the food and sustained agricultural production is strongly required. In addition, in Japan, a problem caused by a decrease in population with low birthrate and the change of our lifestyle will occur. We need various types of foods that may satisfy the consumers’ demands, and therefore the development of functional foods with good-taste and high quality is required. On the other hand, in the field of the agricultural production, a decrease in the young persons on agriculture ascribes to agriculture by the senior aged persons. In this article we offer a construction of a new system that may take a role to maintain the country and perform a sustainable agricultural production, which may achieve the steady supply of the food. We also propose a plan of agricultural innovation to make up a smart agriculture, so called as the sixth industry. In addition, demand for plant biomass is increase because they are used for the source of biomass energy or bio refinery projects.

In this research project, we plan to build an agricultural innovation to satisfy these demands. We hope to carry out the studies on various view-points and then make up the improvement of the biomass productivity in this purpose. We, in this way, hope to construct an Agri-bio system giving a sustainable cereal production. Therefore, We inspect the improvement of the plant function at a cell level, individual level, the point of view of the group level, and develop new technologies on the key factors. In other words, we look around the environment of the production field ranging from a genetic information (DNA) to the factors in the real farming. The improvement of the gene function involving in photosynthesis, a source function, translocation, distribution, sink functions, gene function control, evolutional engineering, genome editing, sensing, visualization of the material transportation, and the examination of an effective cultivation method, and then we hope to propose the new way for the profit utilization.

We figure out the factors that are important for biomass productivity. They cover the production of carbohydrates caused by the photosynthesis (carbon dioxide assimilation) with the source organs (organization to produce) such as green leaves, the transportation (translocation and distribution) of the material in the individual, the metabolism with the sink organ (organization to store), and production and storage of the stored substances. It is thought that we can maintain the high productivity when these are performed smoothly. I enumerated important points (element) that it was thought that it prescribed cereals productivity on the right side in the figure. We presume that high-level cereal productivity is led to us when these elements are achieved by Agri-biotechnology processes. It is suggested that there is a key gene participating in these elements for efficient productivity, and it is the first step of the improvement of cereals productivity.


In this research section, we study on the basic research for the following three items, which we focused on the improvement of biomass productivity on the above-mentioned points of view: They include the inspection for the improvement of the plant function on a cell level, individual level, and group level, and development of a new technique for the key factors. We will investigate the studies on the function of the key factors involved in biomass productivity, which cover various scenes including molecular breeding and field examination. We hope they will give us a new technology for the stable and sustainable biomass productivity, and basal knowledge for New Plant Breeding Technology (NBT) such as genome editing, DNA-based plant breeding based on the genome information, and development of the efficient cultivation system.

Followings are our objectives:

①Enhancement of the plant function by the cell level study:

We will identify a useful gene involved in biomass productivity, and develop a technique to utilize this. We analyze DNA, RNA, protein, nucleotide as target materials. In addition, we determine their dynamics in detail using a model system.

②Enhancement of the plant function by the individual level study:

We will clarify the transport of the essential materials in the plant bodies, the transmission of the genetic information, and the interaction between the cells. In addition, we will elucidate the key factors by live imaging analysis, and develop a new technique to visualize the change of productivity during growth process, and the transportation of carbon dioxide assimilation.

③Enhancement of the plant function on the plant population:

We will analyze the influence and cultivation environment (light, flow of the wind) that gives on the growth to obtain a basic data. In addition, We attempt to engineer the production efficiency using a natural enemy.

This is a first trial on the research project for Agri-biotechnology in Tokyo University of Science. Our objectives are to cultivate a vacant field, sow seeds, let them germinate, and grow to open up a new research area. I hope here will become an arena where hundreds persons come together and discuss for development of a novel Agri-biotechnology.

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