Summary of Research Project Results under JSPS FY2004
"Research for the Future Program"

1. Research Institution   Nara Institute of Science and Technology
2. Research Area Life Sciences
3. Research Field Plant Genetics
4. Term of Project FY 2000 - FY 2004
5. Project Number 00L01604
6. Title of Project Plant Molecular Breeding for High Assimilation Potential and Stress Tolerance towards Food Security and Environmental Preservation

7. Project Leader

Name Institution, Department Title of Position
Sano, Hiroshi Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Research and Education Center for Genetic Information Professor

8. Core Members

Names Institution, Department Title of Position
Kazuya, Yoshida Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Biological sciences Associate Professor

9. Summary of Research Results

The long-range aim of this project is to construct useful transgenic plants with high potentials in assimilation ability and in stresses tolerance. To this end, two experimental procedures are undertaken: increasing photosynthesis capacity and molecular breeding with stress resistant genes. During past five years, following results were obtained.

( 1 ) The origin of RUBISCO was identified, and its evolution mechanism was proposed.
( 2 ) The molecular mechanism to tolerate strong light intensity was elucidated.
( 3 ) Plant growth rate and biomass were greatly increased by introducing FBP/SBP genes, which constitute the rate limiting step in Calvin cycle.
( 4 ) An amino acid derivative, citrulline, was found to show a strong anti-oxidant activity from wild water melons grown in the drought regions in Africa. The method to practically utilize this compound for plant molecular breeding as well as for cosmetic components was developed.
( 5 ) The molecular mechanism by which rice plants recognize bacterial pathogens was identified.
( 6 ) The signaling mechanism for the hypersensitive response during viral pathogen infection in tobacco plants was proposed.
( 7 ) The resistance against a fungal pathogen, rice blight, was shown to be mediated through G-proteins, which are essential for pathogen recognition and signaling.
( 8 ) Salt tolerant tobacco cells were constructed by introducing a gene for Na/K antiporter pump protein.
( 9 ) Caffeine biosynthetic pathway was clarified, and decaffeinated coffee plants were constructed. Similarly, transgenic tobacco in which caffeine was synthesized showed a strong repellant activity towards tobacco cutworms.
(10) A phytoremediation method for heavy metal contaminants was developed using genes for sulfur assimilating and heavy metal binding proteins.
(11) Epigenetic mechanism for gene silencing and activation was studied through analyses of DNA methyaltion.

10. Key Words

( 1 ) RUBISCO ( 2 ) Epigenetics ( 3 ) Pathogen response
( 4 ) Stress tolerance ( 5 ) Phytoremediation ( 6 ) Photosynthesis
( 7 ) Signal transduction ( 8 ) Plant molecular breeding ( 9 ) Anti-oxidant