The KIBR has a store of genetic resources - about 6000 strains of wheat and 800 types of chili peppers - that are precious in both global and historical terms. As the population continues to grow amid global changes in environment, and to ensure sustainable production of food, the KIBR will conduct comprehensive genome analysis on the diversity and functionality of plants. The institute will also develop plant science research that can only be conducted in the KIBR labs, such as growing crops that have wide-ranging environmental adaptability, or introducing unique functional genes into cultivated wheat and chili peppers.
Kihara Institute of Biological Research has conserved important historical plant genetic resources and genetic experimental lines of wheat, which is one of the three major crops along with rice and corn, The institute also has precious genetic resources of Capsicum collected from its place of origin - Central America. From a wide range of genetic resources collected and conserved in a scientific manner, we evaluate and select the useful characteristics of a plant. By taking advantage of our research network with domestic and international agricultural institutions such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), we are successfully carrying out targeted phenotyping and genotype research in addition to conducting education concerning plant germplasms that can be useful to society. Through collaborative research and using a wide range of wheat and capsicum genetic resources, we are establishing a model of germplasm research by utilizing various molecular tools and techniques.
Plant Genome Science Division
Bread wheat, a staple crop, is characterized by its evolution as an allopolyploid from three species of wild wheat. Therefore, bread wheat has three gene sets (genome) within a single cell. The bread wheat genome, being an allopolyploid, is not only complex but is also huge, which is why its genome analysis has been delayed compared to other crops. In recent years, the technological revolution in deciphering the DNA base sequence has resulted in the accumulation of genome information. Making use of such information, we are studying how bread wheat utilizes the three gene sets to build a gene control network. Applying this knowledge to molecular breeding, we address the issues of strengthening environmental adaptability, improving the quality of whear flour and its functional ingredients, and increasing yield through modification of ear shape and grass type.
Plant Biotechnology Division
Plant growth and development is strictly regulated by environmental signals. This division takes advantage of a chemical biology approach to study how plant hormones regulate plant growth and development at the molecular level. The division also takes an advanced genomics approach to study the model plant Arabidopsis transcriptome.
Plant Epigenome Research Division
In angiosperm, one sperm cel fertilizes the egg cell to give rise to the embryo, and the other sperm cell fuses with the central cell to form the endosperm. In crop plants, such as corn, rice and wheat, the endosperm is a major part of the seed and provides major dietary calories for humans. During the endosperm formation, the role for the maternally - and paternally-derived genomes are not the same; the maternally-derived genome repressed nutritional flow to the embryo via the endosperm, while the paternally-derived genome contributes oppositely based on sexual conflict. This conflict of genome can be seen even in species of self-fertilized plants, including Arabidopsis thaliana. Therefore, it has been argued that epigenetic mechanisms in the female and male lineages are involved. Our laboratory aims to elucidate these epigenetic mechanisms during sexual reproduction through topics including the following; Control of DNA Demethylation in Plant Genomic Imprinting, Endosperm Development in Interspecific and Interploidy Cross in Plants, Mechanism for One-on-One Union of Male and Female Gametes.