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The National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) is the largest agricultural research institute in Japan for basic life sciences. As a major research institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), it was formerly known as the National Institute of Agrobiological Resources (NIAR) until it was re-established as an independent administrative institution in April 1, 2001. The institute focuses on understanding the biological phenomena of agriculturally important plants, insects, microbes and animals to create innovative technologies, and eventually contribute to the solution of global issues such as food shortage due to rapid population growth and environmental problems due to climate change. Research activities are pursued in a 5-year cycle to intensify all efforts towards a common goal and to forge the way for new breakthroughs with direct impact to agricultural productivity.
The First Five-year Research Program (2001-2005) led to the sequencing of the rice genome, development of genetic recombination techniques for silkworm, and the construction of genetically modified swine. The Second Five-year Research Program (2006-2010) focused on the utilization of the rice genome sequence in developing efficient breeding strategies, elucidation of the draft sequences of silkworm and swine genomes, and functional characterization of agronomically important genes. With the Third Five-year Research Program (2011-2015), the challenge focuses on elucidating the genome information controlling the life cycles of organisms, collection and utilization of genetic resources, and providing the platform for applications of genomics, transgenics and genetic resources in agriculture and industry.