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 00L01605
6. Title of Project Molecular Mechanisms on Regulation of Morphogenesis and Metabolism Leading to Increased Plant Productivity

7. Project Leader

Name Institution, Department Title of Position
Takashi, Hashimoto Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Biological Sciences Professor

8. Core Members

Names Institution, Department Title of Position
Masao, Tasaka Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Biological Sciences Professor
Takayuki, Kohchi Kyoto University, Graduate School of Biostudies Professor

9. Summary of Research Results

Diverse low-molecular-weight compounds (secondary products) accumulating in restricted plant species have long been used by man as medicine, flavor, dye, and table luxuries. Since these plant-derived useful metabolites are often difficult to synthesize chemically or by fermentation, their effective production in plants is desirable. To increase productivity of useful metabolites by metabolic engineering, it is essential to understand molecular mechanisms of their biosynthesis and to clone key determinants to control productivity, such as pathway enzymes, transporters, and master transcriptional regulators. On the other hand, if we view plant morphology as the site of metabolite production, it should be feasible to design plant architectures that contain increased proportions of the biosynthetically active cells of target metabolites.
This project utilizes modern technologies in molecular biology and molecular genetics to clarify biosynthesis and regulation of useful metabolites and regulatory mechanisms of plant morphogenesis as a basis of increased plant productivity. The basic knowledge and genetic materials obtained in this project will be used to design effective strategies for metabolic engineering of useful natural products.
The project was divided into two groups which shared techniques and coordinated progress. The"Metabolic Regulation" group studied molecular regulation and metabolic engineering of plant-derived useful natural products, such as alkaloids, flavonoids and quinones, and engineered plants containing novel properties of phytochromes by modifying the metabolic pathway of a phytochrome chromophore. The"Morphogenesis" group studied molecular mechanisms of lateral and adventitious root development using Arabidopsis as a model plant, and also elucidated molecular components of self-incompartibility in Brassica plants.

10. Key Words

( 1 ) Secondary metabolism ( 2 ) Biosynthesis ( 3 ) Metabolic engineering
( 4 ) Product accumulation ( 5 ) Phytochrome ( 6 ) Root
( 7 ) Morphogenesis ( 8 ) Plant hormones ( 9 ) Self incompartibility