The Institute of Crop Science, NARO (NICS) is the core research institute of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) for conducting research on the breeding of crops such as rice, wheat, barley, soybean, etc. using advances in genomics, with the ultimate goal of improving the self-sufficiency ratio of agricultural crop production in Japan. Research activities also cover the understanding of basic mechanism of agronomic and physiological traits regarding crop-quality and productivity, and the development of efficient technologies for innovations in crop breeding.


Development of an automatic irrigation control system that mimics the drought condition in the natural environment

National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Kazusa DNA Research Institute, and Tecs Inc. has developed the world's first automatic irrigation system that arbitrarily controls soil moisture for each pot by supplying water from the bottom of the pot. Drought condition that occurs in the natural environment can be reproduced by this system in an indoor environment. In addition, it is possible to constantly monitor the temperature and humidity, illuminance, soil moisture and soil temperature of each pot. It is expected that it will be possible to realize the expected adverse environment in the future such as drought and crop development in anticipation of the future global environment by utilizing this system. This system can also be utilized diversely, such as collecting data for precision agriculture. Read more

Rapid method to generate DNA markers that helps in efficient breeding of potato and sweetpotato cultivars

The National Agricultural Food Research Organization (NARO) and Ishikawa Prefectural University have jointly developed a method to rapidly produce DNA markers in polyploid crops such as potato and sweetpotato, which are difficult to select ideal individuals because of innumerable chromosome combinations in breeding. In order to identify genomic regions related to agronomically important characteristics for DNA marker production, genomic sequencing analysis on a large number of individuals was required previously. By extracting two populations differing in their intended properties and analyzing the mixture of the extracts, we succeeded in reducing the duration of DNA-marker production, which used to take more than one year, to a minimum of two months. It is expected that this technology will improve the efficiency of selection work using DNA markers in breeding cultivars of polyploid crops for traits with huge demand at production sites and consumers such as disease resistance or tuber quality, etc. Read more

Development of Method for evaluating vegetation fraction for rice plants using UAV imagery

National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has developed a method for evaluating the vegetation fraction for rice plant using images captured by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). This method can give more objective results within 1/20 of the working time compared to conventional visual inspection. Vegetation fraction is one of the important characteristics of crop productivity, but it is easily influenced by the environment and difficult to measure objectively and efficiently. Until now, accurate selection has not been possible, which has been a bottleneck for breeding. By combining the data collected by the developed method and DNA analysis, we identified genes related to the vegetation fraction at four locations on the chromosome. With the help of these genes, it is expected that the cultivation of highly productive rice varieties will become more efficient in the future. Read more

Development of world's first rice variety adapted to saline paddy through root angle modifications

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), in collaboration with Tohoku University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have succeeded in the world's first identification of qSOR1 (quantitative trait locus for SOIL SURFACE ROOTING 1) gene in rice associated with root growth angle (RGA), which is useful in the breeding aiming at mitigating grain yield damage in saline paddy fields. Grain yield damage from saline stress occurs not only from the salt itself but also from the deficiency of oxygen occurred by the degraded physical soil condition. In this study, qSOR1 was used for the development of new rice line which developed soil-surface roots (SOR). Read more

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