Plant Growth Regulation
Outline of Research and Education
Plants continuously produce organs throughout their life. This feature renders them distinct from animals, in which organ formation ceases soon after embryogenesis. We aim to understand the mechanisms of DNA polyploidization, stress response and stem cell maintenance that support sustained plant growth under changing environments. Our study will contribute to the development of technologies to increase plant biomass and food production.
Major Research Topics
Mechanisms for induction of DNA polyploidization
In many plant species, cells start DNA polyploidization after the cessation of cell division. DNA polyploidization causes enlargement of individual cells and organs; thus, it greatly contributes to plant biomass production. We are studying how cell cycle- and chromatin-level regulation is involved in induction of DNA polyploidization, and developing technologies to enhance DNA polyploidization in crops and woody plants, aiming to increase food and biomass production.
Plant growth regulation in response to abiotic stresses
Plant growth is usually inhibited under stressful conditions because plants need to use energy for coping with stresses, rather than for organ growth. We have recently identified the signaling cascade that triggers cell cycle arrest in response to DNA damage and heat stress. We are studying how this cascade orchestrates expression of G2/M-specific genes and generating stress-tolerant plants by modifying the signaling components.
Maintenance of plant stem cells
Any plant has a long life span if the developmental program is optimized, and continues to grow throughout life. This feature is derived from persistent proliferation of pluripotent stem cells scattered in the plant body. We are studying the molecular mechanisms of how stem cells are maintained and replenished in tissues to understand plant vitality.
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