Research Clusters

Plant Cell and Developmental Biology

Multicellular organisms require precise coordination of cell division and differentiation to ensure organized development. Plants have evolved a unique structure called the meristem, which consists of a pool of stem cells that divide and renew themselves continuously. The shoot apical meristem, which is formed during embryogenesis, plays a central role in generating postembryonic shoot organs such as leaves, stems and flowers. Focusing on key regulatory genes, we study how the shoot apical meristem is formed and maintained during the plant life cycle, and how the activities of these regulatory genes affect tissue morphology and behaviors.

On the other hand, plants sometimes produce gall-like structures induced by a number of other organisms, such as the root nodules induced by Rhizobium, and the galls induced by plant parasitic nematodes or insects. Parasites and symbiotes induce different types of plant responses, and sometimes they hijack the plant’s endogenous signaling pathways for their own purposes. For example, plant parasitic nematodes utilize root formation-related signaling pathways to induce cell division and form gall from pre-vascular cells to survive in plant roots. Furthermore, cell wall compositions are often modified in response to such developmental reprogramming during these biotic interactions.

In this Research Unit, Plant Cell and Developmental Biology, we characterize the molecular and physical mechanisms that contribute to plant development and plant–parasitic nematodes interactions using genetic, biochemical, physiological approaches. From a technical point of view, image analyses can be quite useful to mine valuable information from high-dimensional microscopic images. As such, we are also currently developing original image analysis tools tailored for experimental plant cell and developmental biologists.

Plant Cell and Developmental Biology

Cluster members

  • Japan
    Shinichiro SAWA Website
    Professor, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology, Kumamoto University
  • Spain
    Carolina ESCOBAR Website
    Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Castilla La Mancha
  • France
    Bruno FAVERY Website
    INRAE Senior Scientist/ IROAST Visiting Professor, CNRS Institut Sophia Agrobiotech
  • Japan
    Mitsuhiro AIDA Website
    Professor, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology (FAST), Kumamoto University
  • Japan
    Takumi HIGAKI Website
    Professor, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology (FAST), Kumamoto University
  • Japan
    Yuki YOSHIDA
    Project Assistant Professor, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology, Kumamoto University
  • Japan
    Hidehiko SUNOHARA
    Visiting Assistant Professor, Kumamoto University/Environmental Control Center Co.,Ltd.
  • Japan
    Reira SUZUKI
    Visiting Assistant Porfessor, Faculty of Advanced Science and Technology, Kumamoto University



Takahiro Katogi, Yuki Yoshida, Kaito Nakayama, Yoshikazu Hoshi, Shinichiro Sawa, Genome size determination and chromosome characterization of Limosella aquatica L. (Scrophulariaceae) in Japan: Insights into Japanese population, Cytologia 2023, 88, 4, 339-346.

Satoru Nakagami, Michitaka Notaguchi, Tatsuhiko Kondo, Satoru Okamoto, Takanori Ida, Yoshikatsu Sato, Tetsuya Higashiyama, Allen Yi-Lun Tsai, Takashi Ishida, and Shinichiro Sawa, Root-knot nematode modulates plant CLE3-CLV1 signaling as a long-distance signal for successful infection, Science Advances, 9, 22, 2023.
*Supported by the IROAST Publication Support Program FY2023.

Satoru Nakagami, Tsuyoshi Aoyama, Yoshikatsu Sato, Taiki Kajiwara, Takashi Ishida, Shinichiro Sawa, CLE3 and its homologs share overlapping functions in the modulation of lateral root formation through CLV1 and BAM1 in Arabidopsis thaliana, The Plant Journal, 113,6, 1176-1191 (2023).

Oota, M., Toyoda, S., Kotake, T., Wada, N., Hashiguchi, M., Akashi, R., Ishikawa, H., Favery, B., Tsai, A., Yi-Lun, and Sawa, S. Rhamnogalacturonan-I as a nematode chemoattractant from Lotus corniculatus L. Supergrowing Root culture. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13:1008725, 2022. (IF=6.6)

Suzuki, R., Kanno, Y., Abril-Urias, P, Seo, M., Escobar, C., Tsai, A., Yi-Lun, and Sawa, S. Local Auxin Synthesis Mediated by YUCCA4 Induced during Root-knot Nematode Infection Positively Regulates Gall Growth and Nematode Development. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13:1019427, 2022. (IF=6.6)


Principal Investigator

  1. Kakenhi, Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (A)
  2. JSPS, Fostering Joint International Research (B)


May 2023:
Visit of Bruno Favery's laboratory in France

joint research                                                                 joint research meeting

December 13, 2022:
International meeting in Kumamoto on “plant development and biotic interaction” (The 14th IROAST International symposium)



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