Core Research Group

The objective of this area of study is to clarify the distributed response of cells and tissues of plants, which do not have a central nervous system, and to determine how plants control such information through the whole-organism signal transduction system. This research will lead to a complete picture of the mechanisms underlying dynamic signal transduction in response to environmental stimuli that are unique to plants.

We carefully selected eight planning groups that are essential for completing this objective. In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms of various environmental responses in plants, the research program cannot be structured as a collection of individual studies; rather, it must be an integrated and strategic research program. Therefore, we did not break up the research areas, and instead opted for an organic, collaborative research framework in which the eight planning group team members work together to forge a new field of study.

Moreover, we centralized common, large equipment and analysis using the latest technologies at the research support centers, so that they can provide support for the entire program, leading to efficient research progress.

Kinoshita Group: Analysis of stomatal aperture control mechanisms in response to environmental stimuli

Matsubayashi Group: Response mechanisms to a fluctuating environment through long-distance signaling

Matsunaga Group: Elucidation of mechanisms that control chromatin movement in response to environmental stimuli

Sugimoto Group: Control of cellular reprogramming in response to environmental stress

Fukuda Group: Analysis of the autonomous distributed control of signal transduction via the vascular system in plants

Shinozaki Group: Spatiotemporal response and molecular mechanisms of memory in response to drought or temperature stress in plants

Kakutani Group: Environmental response control mechanisms involving chromatin long-term memory

  • Research plan representative Tetsuji Kakutani
    Professor, National Institute of Genetics, Research Organization of Information and Systems
  • The ON/OFF state of gene expression, which reflects the environmental and genetic background, is recorded on chromatin. This memory is manifested physically as histone modifications or DNA methylation. DNA methylation is a particularly stable modification, and contributes to control of repetitive sequences such as transposons as long-term memory. DNA methylation can be found in the coding regions of genes in many organisms, ranging from plants to humans; however, its function is incompletely understood. In this study, we focused on the interactions between histone and DNA methylation and their effects on long-term chromatin memory. By genetic and genomic approaches, we will elucidate the control mechanisms of these modifications and memory in the context of cellular proliferation and responsiveness to the environment.

Shirasu Group: Elucidation of the information hijacking mechanism of the vascular bundle of parasitic plants

  • Research plan representative Ken Shirasu
    Group Director, Center for Sustainable Resource Science, RIKEN
  • Some plants parasitize other plants. We seek to comprehensively understand how both plants (parasite and host) obtain information about the other; how they differentiate this information from their own; how they control, decide, remember, and transmit this information; and the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes.