Greeting from the Project Leader

July 17, 2012

I am pleased to announce the official launch of a research program called “The Plant Cell Wall as Information Processing System”, which is to be financially supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas from the Japanese government for 5 years beginning in 2012. I would like to thank all of the people who have helped launch this program.

Studies of the plant cell wall began when Robert Hooke observed secondary cell walls in cork tissue under a microscope and coined the term “cell” in 1665. His first microscopic observation was followed by more extensive microscopic dissection of plant tissues and organs by Nehemiah Grew in the 1670s. The classical view of the plant cell wall, which was put forth by these pioneers, describes this structure as static and rigid. This view has undergone extensive revision since the 19th century.

Currently, the plant cell wall is regarded as not only a dynamic structure responsible for the regulation of plant growth and differentiation, but as an intelligent system capable of processing information from the environment. To date, we do not understand the molecular mechanisms that render the cell wall capable of mediating information processing and self-regulation.

The goal of this research program is to elucidate the molecular processes responsible for the information processing and self-regulation capabilities of the cell wall, which will pave the way for understanding the molecular mechanisms by which plants sense and interact with their environment via information processing systems in their cell walls.

Kazuhiko Nishitani
Professor of Plant Physiology
Tohoku University