Research in Focus

  • Discovery of a new indispensable gene for regulation of cellular cholesterol behavior
    ~ As revealed by research on the fruit fly ecdysteroid biosynthesis ~

    A joint research collaboration of NIAS with University of Tsukuba and The University of Tokyo led to the discovery of a new Halloween gene that regulates cellular cholesterol behavior in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). The gene predominantly expressed in the prothoracic gland is called noppera-bo and encodes the glutathione S-transferase, an enzyme which is essential for ecdysteroid biosynthesis and triggers developmental transitions in insects. The steroidal hormone plays an important role in maintenance of growth and homeostasis as well as the sexual maturity in multicellular organisms. Although cholesterol serves as the precursor in biosynthesis of steroid hormones, it is not clear how it is transported and how it is regulated. The noppera-bo knock-down mutant showed a typical embryonic ecdysteroid deficiency and arrested development of the larva. However upon administration of cholesterol, both mutant embryos and larvae recovered and developed into normal phenotypes. These results clearly indicate that noppera-bo plays a crucial role in regulating the behaviour of cholesterol in steroid biosynthesis in insects and possibly in other higher organisms as well including human, and may be used in developing new pesticide for controlling the growth of target insects.

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  • A transcription factor regulates the number of root nodules
    ~ Discovery of the control switch in energy-saving system of root nodule symbiosis ~

    The leguminous plants including important crops such as soybean and common beans control the number of root nodules via a long distance signaling regulatory system through the leaves. The research groups of Dr. Takashi Soyano and Prof. Masayoshi Kawaguchi of the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB) and Dr. Makoto Hayashi of NIAS have jointly clarified that a transcription factor called ‘Nodule Inception’ or NIN is involved in the initiation and control of root nodule formation as a mechanism of keeping a balance in the number of root nodules. Although the root nodule symbiosis is beneficial to host plants, excessive nodulation interferes with plant growth because the process involves a lot of energy. By controlling the number of root nodules, the plant can avoid the use of excessive energy, which is extremely important for growth. The results of this study are available online in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA from September 22, 2014.

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  • New biomaterial for corneal regeneration derived from porcine collagen
    ~ Promising new approach for regenerative medicine ~

    A transparent and biocompatible new biomaterial for regenerative medicine has been successfully developed using porcine collagen. This pig-derived atelocollagen vitrigel membrane with spherical curvature was used as scaffold for culturing human cells which led to regeneration of corneal tissues. The results of this study will soon be used by the University of Tokyo Hospital and integrated in developing an efficient strategy for corneal endothelial regenerative treatment and innovative technologies for healthcare.

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  • Decoding the genome of extreme desiccation-tolerant sleeping chironomid
    ~ Elucidating the mechanism of drying without dying ~

    The genome sequence of the sleeping chironomid, an insect which inhabits the rocky areas of the semiarid region of central Africa and an immense capacity to survive under extreme conditions such as drought, has been successfully decoded by a joint international research team from Japan, Russia and the USA, paving the way for elucidating the mechanism of anhydrobiosis that allows the insect to enter a state of suspended animation and totally dry-up without dying. The genome sequence provides new insights which may ultimately lead to identification of the genes that control tolerance to extreme dessication and utilization of the strategies of anhydrobiosis in preservation of sensitive systems such as iPS cells, embryo, blood tissues etc. under normal conditions.

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  • Discovery of a rice almighty gene with multiple functions
    ~ Confers resistance to pathogens, salinity and drought, and increases photosynthesis and tiller number ~

    A joint collaboration of the research teams of Prof. Masamichi Nishiguchi of Ehime University and Dr. Hiroaki Ichikawa of the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences has successfully elucidated that the overexpression of the rice heme activator protein gene (OsHAP2E) induced multiple functions such as resistance to pathogens, tolerance to salinity and drought, increased photosynthetic activity, and increased tiller number. This is the first report that a single gene in rice has been found to be involved in various functions associated with plant growth, development, and abiotic and biotic stress responses. The gene does not only confer resistance to pathogenic bacteria, but also enables the cultivation of the crops under conditions of salinity and drought. Moreover, the gene induces an increase in photosynthetic activity and an increase in tiller number that may potentially lead to a corresponding increase of crop yield. It is expected that this gene will contribute in developing strategies that can be used in overcoming possible food shortage due to an ever-increasing world population.

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  • Silk produced by transgenic silkworm expressing spider dragline silk protein
    ~ Towards large-scale production of new silk materials ~

    A transgenic silkworm which produces new silk material combining the tensile strength and elasticity of spider dragline silk and the high quality characteristic of silk derived from silkworm has been successfully generated. This new spider-type silk is 1.5 times tougher as compared to normal silk. A processing method similar to normal silk has also been successfully applied in production of textile using spider-type silk. It is expected that further development of a much stronger and high quality spider-type silk will pave the way for medical applications in the production of surgical sutures, and survival supplies such as safety rope and protective clothing that can be used during natural disasters and emergency situations.

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•  2014.10.03  Discovery of a new indispensable gene for regulation of cellular cholesterol behavior
•  2014.09.22  A transcription factor regulates the number of root nodules
•  2014.09.19   New biomaterial for corneal regeneration derived from porcine collagen
•  2014.09.12  Decoding the genome of extreme desiccation-tolerant sleeping chironomid
•  2014.09.01  Discovery of a rice almighty gene with multiple functions
•  2014.08.27  Silk produced by transgenic silkworm expressing spider dragline silk protein
•  2014.08.25  Identification of a novel promoter that can induce strong and ubiquitous gene expression in transgenic silkworm
•  2014.08.20  Elucidating the mechanism of recognition and evasion in viral infection of tomato
•  2014.08.19  Successful production of silk fibers with unnatural amino acids
•  2014.07.18  Genetic blueprint of the wheat genome revealed
•  2014.07.10  Two prominent NIAS scientists in the 'World's Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014'
•  2014.10.03  Discovery of a new indispensable gene for regulation of cellular cholesterol behavior
•  2014.09.22  A transcription factor regulates the number of root nodules
•  2014.09.19   New biomaterial for corneal regeneration derived from porcine collagen
•  2014.09.12  Decoding the genome of extreme desiccation-tolerant sleeping chironomid
•  2014.09.01  Discovery of a rice almighty gene with multiple functions
•  2014.08.27  Silk produced by transgenic silkworm expressing spider dragline silk protein
•  2014.08.25  Identification of a novel promoter that can induce strong and ubiquitous gene expression in transgenic silkworm
•  2014.08.20  Elucidating the mechanism of recognition and evasion in viral infection of tomato
•  2014.08.19  Successful production of silk fibers with unnatural amino acids
•  2014.07.18  Genetic blueprint of the wheat genome revealed
•  2014.06.16  World’s first production of piglets from cryopreserved oocytes
•  2014.05.19  Discovery of synergistic insecticidal effect of calcium oxalate crystals and protease
•  2014.05.15  Development of a database to maximize the utilization of large-scale data on agrigenomics
•  2014.04.30  PGR Asia as a platform for efficient access to plant genetic resources in Asian region
Details here (in Japanese only).
•  2014.04.15  Space experiment on the effect of microgravity on midge
•  2014.03.03  Towards improving artificial insemination efficiency in cattle
•  2014.02.24  Identification of a new type semiochemical carrier protein that mediates chemical communication in ants
•  2014.02.20  Sex pheromone successfully controls sugarcane insect pest
•  2014.01.22  Discovery of a leech that can survive extremely low temperature
•  2013.12.11  Development of the technology to evaluate the function of a specific domain of intracellular protein
•  2013.09.30  Information on NIAS Symposium on “Prospects for Next-generation Crop Breeding Using Genome Information”
•  2013.09.25  Detection and verification of QTLs associated with heat-induced quality decline of rice
•  2013.09.17  Deciphering the sequence of more than 10,000 silkworm genes
•  2013.08.29  Identification of the gene which contributes to increased photosynthetic efficiency of high-yielding rice
•  2013.08.12  Piglets generated for the first time using sperm retrieved from immature testicular tissue cryopreserved and grafted into nude mice
•  2013.08.09  Development of a safe testing method using a culture model reflecting the architecture of human corneal epithelium in vivo
•  2013.08.05  Discovery and isolation of the gene that controls deep rooting in rice
•  2013.08.05  Discovery and isolation of the gene that controls deep rooting in rice
•  2013.07.12  Genome analysis of symbiotic microbes in wood-feeding cockroach
•  2013.07.02  Identification of the gene that controls early flowering in cultivar 'Koshihikari'
•  2013.06.13  Elucidating the mechanism of pathogen-induced resistance in rice
•  2013.04.15  Discovery of a gene associated with length and weight of rice grain
•  2013.03.22  Identification of transcriptional activators in legumes that enables nitrogen use in the atmosphere
•  2013.03.12  NIAS Ex-Vice President Takuji Sasaki appointed CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council member
•  2013.02.28  Elucidating the genetic linkage map of brown planthopper
•  2013.02.21  A new strategy for developing new types of crops with resistance to several pathogens X
•  2013.01.17  Discovery of a gene that controls the development of rice inflorescence
•  2012.12.19  Discovery of a method to suppress the composition of the black pigment in insects
•  2012.12.14  Development of the world’s first immunodeficient pig
•  2012.12.07  A system for predicting the expression of all rice genes based on atmospheric data
•  2012.11.15  Decoding the pig genome and sequence of important genes
•  2014.04.23  TBS April 27 Program "Yume no Tobira Plus" features NIAS research on rice DRO1 gene
•  2014.03.20  10th International Conference on Juvenile Hormones
Jun 9-13, 2014, Tsukuba, Japan
•  2014.03.12  BIOtech 2014
May 14-16, 2014 at Tokyo Big Sight
•  2014.02.26  Announcement of NIAS Open House
April 18-19, 2014
•  2014.02.20  Silk Summit in Tomioka Silk Mill
Tomioka City, Gunma, April 17-18, 2014
•  2014.03.20  10th International Conference on Juvenile Hormones on Jun 9-13, 2014, Tsukuba, Japan
•  2014.03.12  BIOtech 2014 on May 14-16, 2014 at Tokyo Big Sight
•  2014.02.26  NIAS Open House on April 18-19, 2014
•  2014.02.20  Silk Summit in Tomioka on April 17-18, 2014
•  2013.10.22  Tsukuba Science Festival 2013 on November 9 & 10, 2013
•  2013.10.21  Joint NARO/ARC and NIAS Research Seminar on ‘How to cope with insecticide resistance’ on November 27 & 28, 2013
•  2013.10.17  Science Agora 2013 on November 9 & 10, 2013
•  2013.10.04  Symposium on "Current status of development of biopharamaceuticals from plants and future prospects" on November 8, 2013
•  2013.09.25  Agribusiness Creation Fair 2013 on October 23-25 at Tokyo Big Sight
•  2013.08.14  NIAS 30th Anniversary Symposium
October 16, 2013, Akihabara UDX, Tokyo
•  2013.08.09  Silk Summit 2013 in Kumejima
October 10-11, 2013
•  2013.07.11  Tsukuba Chibikko Hakasei (PhD Kids) Aug 21-22, 2013
•  2013.07.11  Symposium on Utilization of Genome Information for Next-Generation Crop Breeding Oct 18, 2013
•  2013.05.31  The 52nd Gamma Field Symposium July 17, 2013
Deadline of application on July 10
•  2013.05.17  NIAS Open College starts in September 2013
Application is now open.
•  2013.05.16  Summer Science Camp 2013 Aug 5-7
•  2013.05.15  Microarray Workshop 2013 June 26-28
•  2013.03.08  NIAS / TTC Science Cafe on May 24, 2013, at Tera House in Nakano-ku, Tokyo
•  2013.02.20  Announcement of the JSSS / NIAS Joint Symposium on March 18, 2013, Tsukuba Norin Hall
•  2013.02.20  NIAS Open House on April 19-20, 2013
•  2013.01.21  Reactivation of the gamma field at the Institute of Radiation Breeding
•  2013.01.17  NIAS Science Cafe on Feb. 19, 2013
•  2013.01.08  Announcement of the 7th NIAS Symposium Theme: Utilization of silk fibroin and celisin Feb 21, 2013, Akihabara Convention Hall, Tokyo
•  2013.01.23  Announcement of the NIAS / NILGS Joint Symposium Theme: Current status and future prospects of research on improvement of animal productivity Feb 26, 2013, Epochal Tsukuba
•  2012.05.14  Announcement of the the 12th International Wheat Genetics Symposium Sep 8-14, 2013
•  2014.04.28  Update on the status of GMO crops cultivation in isolation fields
•  2014.03.07  Announcement of cultivation of transgenic rice
March 28, 2014
•  2014.04.21  Update on the status of GMO crops cultivation in isolation fields
•  2013.09.30  Harvesting of transgenic rice for FY2013
•  2013.07.16  Changes in the status of experimental fields used for exhibition of transgenic crops
•  2013.05.24  Schedule of transplanting of transgenic rice (WRKY45) on June 12
•  2013.05.08  Transplanting of transgenic rice with cedar pollen allergen
•  2013.05.02  Announcement of cultivation of transgenic crops at NIAS for FY2013
•  2013.03.06  Schedule of cultivation of transgenic crops at NIAS for FY2014 (Part 2)
•  2013.01.24  Schedule of cultivation of transgenic crops at NIAS for FY2013
•  2013.01.24  Survey of management and crossing of transgenic rice with multiple disease resistant at NIAS for FY2012
•  2013.01.22  Survey of management and crossing of transgenic rice with pollen allergen for FY2012
•  2012.12.25  Announcement of the termination of the transgenic soybean and corn field exhibition for FY2012