Five NARO researchers receive the Japan Prize in Agricultural Sciences, Achievement Award for Young Scientists

The Japan Prize in Agricultural Sciences, Achievement Award for Young Scientists is given by the Foundation of Agricultural Sciences of Japan to recognize young researchers (under 40 years old) who make remarkable contributions to the advancement of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. For 2017, ten researchers including five researchers from NARO are awarded the prize (16th) for the fiscal year 2017. The research achievements of the NARO researchers showed exceptional impact and driving force for agricultural development in the future. The awarding ceremony will be held at the University of Tokyo on November 24, 2017.

NARO awardees and their research achievements

Kazuhiro ISHIBASHI (Senior Researcher, Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO)

Elucidating the mechanism of plant resistance against viruses

Dr. Ishibashi identified and characterized the Tm-1 gene that confers resistance against tomato mosaic virus (ToMV). Many resistance genes confer virus resistance by inducing plant defense reactions. However, the Tm-1 gene product (Tm-1) binds with the proteins responsible for virus replication and inhibits virus replication itself. Elucidation of this new defense mechanism may lead to the development of an efficient anti-viral agent and a new strategy to protect crops against viral diseases.

Dr. Kanako TAGO (Senior Researcher, Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences, NARO)

Elucidation of new functions of soil microorganisms related to pesticide / nitrogen dynamics in agricultural lands

Continuous use of organic phosphorus pesticide (insecticide) causes the propagation of agricultural chemical degrading bacteria to soil. Also by entering and co-existing into the body of a pest (stink bug), the pests become resistant to pesticide. The resistance process developed in this study is important as a counter strategy. The greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) is emitted from agricultural lands. Dr. Tago succeeded in separating strains applicable to N2O emission reduction technology using a new method of directly separating single cells while observing under the microscope.

Dr. Michiko NAKAI (Senior Researcher, NARO Headquarters)

Establishment and application of pig intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Techniques for injecting and inseminating sperm directly into egg cells (ICSI) has gained attention. It is a technology to support the development of animal husbandry through preservation and use of genetic resources of livestock. For the first time in the world, Dr. Nakai succeeded in producing piglets by ICSI using in-vitro maturing eggs. However, the efficiency of fertilization and embryo formation after ICSI in pigs seemed to be low. It has been shown that the key to improving fertilization and embryo generation efficiency is induction of activation of eggs. Research for the establishment of the ICSI technique in pigs is in progress.

Dr. Kazunori MINAMIKAWA (Senior Researcher, Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences, NARO)

Development of a methodology towards the social implementation of global warming mitigation measures for paddy field water management

Greenhouse gas such as methane is discharged from paddy fields. Dr. Minamikawa is doing research for the dissemination of water management technology to reduce domestic and overseas greenhouse gas emission. It is expected that policy measures will be implemented for this technology as it is difficult to spread by market economy alone. Therefore, the guidelines for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) were developed. In addition, a water management system using nanobubble that could be activated spontaneously has been developed and has succeeded in constantly reducing methane emissions in paddy fields.

Dr. Masafumi YAGI (Senior Researcher, Institute of Vegetable and Floriculture Science, NARO)

Carnation genome analysis and breeding applications

Dr. Yagi succeeded in characterizing the genome of carnation by whole genome sequencing which led to the first genome analysis of an ornamental plant. Furthermore, utilization of the genomic information is expected enhance the development of new varieties of carnation. A new carnation variety "Karen Rouge" has been developed and is the world's first resistant variety against wilting bacterial diseases which is the most important disease in carnation cultivation in the warm region of Japan. Also focusing on collaboration with the prefecture, the "Kaneainou 1 go" variety with excellent shelf life was developed in collaboration with Aichi Prefecture and dissemination is now in progress.