Nematode infection in plants
Infection of plant-parasitic nematodes, such as root-knot nematodes (RNKs), damage a number of crops by feeding on vascular sap containing photosynthetic products and nutrients. RKN larvae penetrate the host plant roots and migrate to the zone containing differentiating vascular cells, where they induce the formation of gall-like organs, special feeding sites. RKNs inject various effectors into precursor vascular cells, which converts these cells into specialized feeding cells known as giant cells via reprogramming cell fate. We aim for understanding molecular mechanisms of feeding site formation and developing new approaches for nematode control.
Polar auxin transport
Phytohormone auxin plays a key role in plant development and environmental response. An asymmetric auxin distribution, established by intercellular transport called “polar auxin transport”, underlies these events. Polarized localization of auxin efflux carriers PIN-FORMEDs (PINs) in the plasma membrane, which drives polar auxin transport, is changed dynamically in response to developmental signals or environmental cues. The aim of my research is to elucidate the molecular mechanism by which localization of PIN proteins is controlled in response to developmental signals and environmental cues. We also aim for manipulating plant development and environmental response in the field based on our basic knowledge of auxin transport.