Laboratory of Plant Genetics and Genomics

The genome of each plant species contains information equivalent up to hundreds of billions of letters. However, not every piece of information we can access would necessarily be important. For this reason, we categorize the enormous amount of genomic information of individual plant species to identify which regions/genes would play what sort of roles. Furthermore, on the basis of the genomic and/or genetic information we obtain, we develope a novel method to efficiently produce new cultivars possessing traits of excellent characteristics.

Technologies related to genome analysis are changing almost on the daily basis. Nevertheless, because of a large variation in size and structure of plant genomes, we often need to modify existing tools and develop new methods or both. For these reasons, we actively introduce the latest technologies as often as possible, adapt appropriate methods to the analysis of different plant species, and modify various methods to convert them for easier use in studies of the target plants. We are especially concerned with plants with heterogeneous and polyploid genomes that are quite complicated and difficult to analyze with conventional methods.

Through our extensive research activities, we have found many useful genes and DNA markers by analyzing more than thirty plant species. In addition, we performed sequencing and analysis of the genomes of strawberry, cherry and sweet potato. Furthermore, to achieve efficient identification of genes for our research purposes in the vast amount of genome analysis data, we have been developing new devices to assess phenotypic traits of a target crop based on digital imaging of plant growth and morphology and an environmental sensor, which are used either independently or in combination. Integration of the devices we have developed with genome analysis data is expected to accelerate discovery of useful genes. Based on the improved crop breeding system thus provided, we carry out collaboration with researchers at universities, public institutes, domestic- and foreign-companies, etc. to enhance productivity in plant-related industries.

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Sachiko Isobe
Group Leader
Plant genetics, Molecular breeding, Plant genomics

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