Research Institute for Bioresources and Biotechnology
This laboratory conducts research for the purpose of useful plant development using tissue culture and genetic modification (plant biotechnology). For example, researchers work on development related to sweet potatoes in which the starch composition has been changed with genetic modification techniques, or on rice plants that can be grown even on infertile land. In addition, researchers use tissue culture techniques to conduct research on ornamental plants/flowers that add color to our everyday lives. This laboratory aims to nurture researchers and technicians who are up-to-date with plant cell technology.
30% of the world’s soil is considered to be calcareous soil – infertile land on which agricultural productivity is extremely low. Since the soil is alkaline, ineffective absorption of iron by plants is the main limiting factor in crop growth. Thus at the Laboratory for Plant Cell Technology, we are working on isolating and then modifying the gene responsible for iron absorption by plants from the soil and its transport within the plant, so that we can create plants with enhanced growing power even on calcareous soil. If we were able to significantly increase plant productivity even on infertile land, we would not only be able to increase production of food, but contribute to solving environmental problems such as preventing global warming through a reduction in CO2 as well as preventing desertification. We would also be able to contribute to solutions for energy problems such as with an increase in biomass energy production.
We created calcareous soil tolerant rice plants using three approaches with genetic modification techniques. The transformants we obtained all showed more favorable growth than the wild types in calcareous soil, and the harvest was also greater.
We cultivated transformed rice plants (rice plants with enhanced mugineic acid family secretions) in which the barley mugineic acid synthetic enzyme IDS3 genome fragment had been introduced, in a separate calcareous soil paddy field, and proved their low iron tolerance. The transformed rice plants on the left were tolerant of the calcareous soil, with favorable growth, while the untransformed rice plants on the right had yellowed/become bleached due to iron deficiency chlorosis.
Hereafter, we hope to create transformed rice plants with even higher low iron tolerance, using a combination of approaches, to enable application to rice plants with a high biomass.