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Development of Plant Breeding & Cultivation techniques

Development of Plant Breeding and Cultivation techniques team conducts basic molecular biological researches on horticultural plants. The works cover several aspects of plant science/biotechnology such as gene cloning, genetic engineering, genome editing, tissue culture techniques and DNA markers. Our main target is “Gentian” that is the most important ornamental flowers in Iwate prefecture, Japan.

We have been studying on molecular mechanisms that control various traits of Japanese cultivated gentians. The target traits include flower pigmentation, floral shape, morphogenesis, flowering time, disease, overwintering and others. Genetic engineering of gentians with valuable traits such as novel flower colors and shapes is one of our purposes, and we have undertaken functional analyses of genes to achieve the purposes using several model plants, such as Arabidopsis, tobacco and torenia plants. Genome editing systems such as CRISPR/Cas9 have been also applied to these plant materials and used for the analyses. Development and improvement of new genome editing techniques is also our research theme.

Especially, because Japanese gentians are perennial, the life cycle is not fully understood. Therefore, we have been studying the flowering and overwintering mechanisms using molecular biological approaches. Development of regulation method of flowering time is our final goal.

Keeping the quality of flowers and changing smell of flowers are also desirable and we have started the analyses.

We have been studying mutation breeding of gentians, apples and other horticultural crops using ion beam irradiation.

In addition to studies mentioned above, we aim to support the conventional breeding programs of Japanese cultivated gentians by application of genetic markers. Namely, establishment of marker-assisted selection (MAS) system is our second purpose to promote the designed breeding in gentian. NGS is also applied to promote the development of genetic markers in Japanese gentians.

Basic research in support of the plant breeding will give some helpful information not only for gentians but also for other horticultural plants. For practical purposes, we collaborate with Iwate Agricultural Research Center routinely and conduct applied research.

Research Topics

1) Flower pigmentation in gentians

2) Floral morphogenesis in gentians

3) Flowering time and overwintering in gentians

4) Mutation breeding by ion beam irradiation in gentians, apples and other crops

5) Molecular breeding of gentians using genetic transformation and genome editing

6) Establishment of marker assisted selection in gentian breeding

7) Germination of Japanese lacquer (japan)

Graduate students are welcomed to join our group through the United Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Iwate University.

Application to postdoctoral JSPS fellowship for foreign researchers is possible, if the terms and conditions are met to our research theme. Please contact the following email addresses if you have any queries.


Group Leader Masahiro Nishihara, Ph. D. mnishiha AT ibrc.or.jp

Chief Researcher Keiichiro Nemoto, Ph. D. k-nemoto @ ibrc.or.jp

Researcher Shigekazu Takahashi, Ph. D. s-takahashi @ ibrc.or.jp

Researcher Tomoyuki Takase, Ph. D. t-takase @ ibrc.or.jp

Research Assistant Chiharu Yoshida

Fumina Goto

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