Dr. Toshiyuki TOSHAProject ProfessorInternational Research Organization for Advanced Science and Technology (IROAST), Kumamoto University, JapanResearch InterestResearch Interest
IROAST aims to advance the technological innovation for four areas. “Green Energy” is one of the innovation areas at IROAST to prevent global warming, which is a serious problem all over the world in this century. The Kyoto Protocol, which was discussed in COP3, came into effect in 2005. However, there is no obligation in developping countries and developed coutries including Japan made a breakaway cause the protocol less effecitive.The Paris Agreement, a new agreement, was adopted in COP21, which aims to supress CO2 emission in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 ˚C above pre-industrial levels. This agreement is a suc cessor of the Kyoto Protocol. Geothermal energy has an advantage of low CO2 emission. We have large geothermal potential in Kyushu Area but there is no geothermal power plant in Kumamoto though a huge volcano, Mt Aso, is located.
The Paris Agreement requires Japan to reduce 26% of CO2 emission against 2013FY (25.4% against 2005FY, 1,079 MtCO2eq). Amount of reduction is greater than that in the Kyoto Protocol (6% against 1990FY). On the other hand, nuclear power generation became of less importance against the global warming after the serious accident of the nuclear power plant in 2011. Renewable energies as well as geothermal resource become more of importance in generation of electricity, which have advantage in their low CO2 emission.
The Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook, which includes the electricity generation mix (Energy Mix) to 2030, was adopted in July 2015 by the Japanese cabinet, where nuclear power generation is set at 20% to 22%, renewables at 22% to 24%, coal at 26% and LNG at 27% of total electricity supply in 2030. In 2030 CO2 emissions would be 21.9% lower than in 2013, and the primary energy self-sufficiency rate would increase from 6.3% in 2012 to 24.3%. On the basis of the Demand Outlook geothermal is expected at 1.0 to 1.1% of total generation in 2030, which is about three times at present.
The construction of a geothermal power plant takes more than 10 years form the initial survey. Many of the risks of geothermal development are as the same as other grid-connected power plant, which are completion or delay risk, off-take risk, market demand or price risk, operational risk, and regulatory risk. The pre-survey and exploration phases, and especially the test-drilling phase, are recognised as the riskiest parts of geothermal project development. Innivative technology helps the risk reduction to complete the project of the power plant construction. We are carrying out airborne survey analysis to find out fracture and fault systems where sufficient geothermal resources are available. The development of this technology is conducted with the collaborative work with GNS Science, New Zealand.
Geothermal resource potential is estimated by a numerical simulation. Using a reservoir simulator TOUGH2, which was developed in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, and is recognised a standard geothermal simulator, geothermal system at Oguni is analysed, where large geothermal resource is estimated though there is a relative small geothermal power plant with a 2MW electricity generator in operation. We are constructing a numerical model and carrying out the simulation.
Geothermal energy is used as heat source as well as electricity generation. Direct use and district heating systems use hot water from springs or reservoirs located near the surface. Not only Japanese but Ancient Roman, Chinese, and Native American cultures used hot mineral springs for bathing, cooking, and heating. Today, many hot springs are still used for bathing, and many people believe the hot, mineral-rich waters have natural healing powers. Industrial applications of geothermal energy include lumber drying, Heavy water and alumina production, fresh water production and snow melting and deicing. Sugar and salt production, or the drying of vegetable and fruit products, are the most common industrial use of geothermal energy. We are aiming these utilisation of the geothermal energy in Kumamoto.
Dr. Mitsuhiro AIDAProfessorInternational Research Organization for Advanced Science and Technology (IROAST), Kumamoto University, JapanResearch InterestResearch Interest
Plant growth and development is highly dependent on a small stem cell containing tissue called the shoot meristem, which is located at the tips of the plant body. The aim of our lab is to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms on how shoot meristems are formed, how organ formation from the meristems are controlled and how meristem activity is regulated upon various developmental and environmental cues, by using genetics, imaging techniques, biochemistry and genomics.
1.Mechanisms of shoot meristem formation
We focus on a set of transcription factors named CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (CUC) 1, 2 and 3, whose activities are essential for shoot meristem formation in diverse developmental contexts. We are currently identifying and analyzing downstream genes of the CUC proteins and try to understand how the process of shoot meristem formation is regulated and coordinated.
2.Flower development and meristem activity
The flower is a complex organ system specialized for reproduction and is formed from a modified meristem called the floral meristem. Through identifying factors responsible for floral meristem development, we try to uncover molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern flower formation.
Dr. Takumi HIGAKIAssociate ProfessorInternational Research Organization for Advanced Science and Technology (IROAST), Kumamoto University, JapanResearch InterestResearch Interest
Actin filaments of plants
Actin, a protein that is ubiquitous in eukaryotes, forms actin filaments by its polymerization under physiological conditions. Actin filaments are deeply involved in cell morphological changes through formation of higher-order structures such as networks and bundles. In the case of plant cells in particular, actin filaments regulate various organelle dynamics. We aim for visible understanding of actin filament roles in cell division, cell expansion, and cell death, in which plant cell undergoes drastic changes.
Stomatal development and movement
The stomata on the plant leaf and stem surfaces is essential for plant survival because they are responsible for gaseous exchange and transpiration. The stomatal density and aperture is appropriately regulated in response to environmental cues. Using multiple approaches including biochemistry, molecular biology, live cell imaging, image analysis, and mathematical modeling, we aim for visible understanding of the multi-scale spatiotemporal control mechanism of plant stomata.
Image analysis tool development
When addressing problems in the cell biological studies described above, quantitative evaluations of cell structure and movement involving microscopic image analyses are essential. However, existing image analysis softwares are frequently insufficient. This is because the acquired image types and objectives are highly diversified in cell biology studies. For this reason, we are developing image analysis tools that would promote research progress from the standpoint of experimental cell biologists.
Dr. Aeju LEE WebsiteAssociate ProfessorResearch InterestResearch Interest
Research in the Lee lab develop novel molecular imaging sensor and multi-drug delivery carrier for Theragnostics (Therapy + Diagnosis).
1. Enzyme specific activated imaging sensor based real-time in vivo imaging
Proteases are among the most studied enzyme families due to their involvement in the regulation of diverse disease processes and their potential value as biomarkers and therapeutic targets. We reported various protease target Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging sensors and detecting pathologic processes at the cellular and molecular levels in vivo, such as cancer, arthritis, brain disorder and inflammation.
2. Combination drug delivery using biocompatible polymer nanoconstructs
Nanoconstructs can simultaneously deliver multiple agents to cancerous lesions enabling de facto combination therapies. We reported that multi-drug loaded nanoconstructs delivery to malignant mass show synergistic effect.
Dr. Atsushi SAINOKIAssociate ProfessorResearch InterestResearch Interest
Dr. Takashi ISHIDAAssistant ProfessorResearch InterestResearch Interest
I. Analyses of peptide hormone mediated intercellular communications in shoot meristem.
Coordinated cell proliferation and cell differentiation are essential processes in multicellular organisms. To achieve these functions, organisms have developed scrupulously designed cell-to-cell communication systems over the course of evolution. Plants have established unique ligand-receptor-based signaling modules, such as the CLAVATA (CLV) pathway, which comprises the CLV3 peptide hormone and the extracellular leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain-containing receptors. In the shoot apical meristem (SAM) of Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), CLV signal transducers and WUSCHEL (WUS), a homeobox transcription factor, form a negative feedback loop that controls the number of stem cells.
Recently, I have showed that the Arabidopsis G protein beta-subunit1 (AGB1) is involved in the CLV signaling pathway. agb1 mutant exhibits an enlarged SAM and increased number of carpel, similar to that of clv mutants. We are aiming to elucidate further molecular insights of these proteins.
Reference : Ishida et al., EMBO rep, 2014
II. Exploring molecular machineries that regulate stem cell activities in root meristem.
Coordination between cell proliferation and cell differentiation is important also in root meristem. Plants require the cell-to-cell communication system to regulate their activities and to ensure for precise postembryonic development. Shoot and root systems are thought to share common mechanism for carrying out this process; however, its molecular basis is largely unclear. It has been suggested that synthetic CLV3/ EMBRYO SURROUNDING REGION (CLE) peptide treatment shrank the root meristem through the CLV-related receptors in Arabidopsis.
I have identified several molecules that are involved in the CLV-like signaling pathway in root, e.g. BAM1, RPK2 and PUB4. Mutation in these genes decreased sensitivity to the CLE-peptides. Further, we have found that several signaling factors are expressed in limited cells of the root meristem, suggesting that these cells may be responsible for the CLE peptide-stimulated shrinkage of root meristem. We are deciphering what types of cells are involved in the regulatory mechanisms in the root meristem.
Reference : Kinoshita et al., Development, 2015; Shimizu et al., New phytol, 2015
III. Phytoparasitic nematodes hijack vascular stem cells
The developmental plasticity is one of the most striking features of plant morphogenesis, as plants are able to vary their shapes in response to environmental cues. Biotic or abiotic stimuli often promote organogenesis in plants that is not observed under normal growth conditions. Root-knot nematodes (RKNs) are known to parasitize multiple species of rooting plants and to induce characteristic tissue expansion called galls or root-knots (RKs), on the roots of their hosts by perturbing the plant cellular machinery. RKs contain giant cells (GCs) and neighboring cells (NCs), and the GCs are a source of nutrients for the parasitizing nematode. Highly activated cell proliferation was observed in galls. However, the underlying mechanisms that regulate the symptoms that are triggered by the plant-animal interaction have not yet been elucidated.
We have established in vitro infection assay system with Meloidogyne incognita. By utilizing the in vitro system, we are trying to understand how the nematodes modulate developmental regulation mechanisms of plant cells to ensure the atypical cell proliferation and GC formation during the infection processes.
Yamaguchi et al., Front Plant Sci, 2017