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Research topics

Why do we study pattern formation

Microscopic observation of plant sections allows one to realize beautiful cellular patterns. Why plants produce such beautiful patterns? Why do we need to study the patterning mechanisms? (Click to read more) 

Plant-specific cell-cell signaling

Plant cells are not able to change their position and orientation, because they are interconnected by rigid cell walls. Therefore, formation of correct tissue patterns relies on a mechanism that determine the fate of each cell depending on its position. What makes such developmental process possible? (Click to read more)

Positional cues in pattern formation

Transcription factors (TFs) are usually localized to the nucleus and regulate gene expression. However, some TFs are found in cytoplasm and even traffic from cell to cell. Some microRNAs (miRNAs) that post-transcriptionally suppress gene expression also act outside the site of their production. Recent studies by our group and others have revealed both TFs and miRNAs mediate cell-cell signaling in root patterning. (Click to read more)

MicroRNA in ovule morphogenesis

The ovule of flowering plants consists of a central embryo sac and peripheral integuments. The embryo sac is derived from one of the four cells produced via meiosis and contain an egg and a central cell, which after fertilization give rise to the embryo and endosperm, respectively. On the other hand, the integuments become the seed coat at maturation. Morphogenesis of such a elaborate ovule stucture is essential not only for germ cell formation, but also fertilization, embryogenesis and seed formation. Then, what makes the formation of such a complex ovule structure possible?   (Click to read more)

Finding novel patterning genes

A number of regulatory genes remain unidentified in the plant genome. However it is not easy to find those genes by conventional mutant screening. This is mainly because many genes have funtionally redundant genes in the plant genome, and hence disruption of a single gene does not lead to a visible phenotype. We have developed a novel screening method that allows one to identify novel patterning genes, regardless of the existence of funtionally overlapping genes. (Click to read more)


Regulator of cell reprogramming

Plant ontogeny (formation of an individual plant body) starts with a pattern formation in embryogenesis. Plants in the Brassica family, including the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, exhibit a notablly regular pattern formation in very early stages of embryogenesis. For such a patterning process to be initiated, plant cells need to be reprogrammed to activate embryo-specific genes. We identified a gene that is capable of reprogramming somtic plant cells to embryonic status. We are currently investigating the mechanisms by which this gene reprograms somatic cells.  (Click to read more)

Germ cell differentiation in plants

Germ cells possess unique characteristics, such as pluripotency to form multicellular bodies and the ability to fuse with a germ cell of opposite sex. How do germ cells acquire such unique abilities?  (Click to read more)

Unique functions of root cap cells

The root cap consists of cell layers and covers the root tip. This relatively inconspicuous tissue actually executes a number of important functions to direct root growth, such as reducing friction against the soil, sensing gravity, and protecting the root meristem. How are these root cap-specific functions regulated?  (Click to read more)