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.


A new waxy barley cultivar "Kihadamochi" with high yield and high β-glucan content

NARO has developed a new waxy barley cultivar "Kihadamochi" that contains lot of water-soluble dietary fiber β-glucan, which is a "functional ingredient". It is a six-rowed hulled barley cultivar suitable for cultivation in the Kanto and Tokai region, and is characterized by its high yield, resistance to Barley yellow mosaic virus, tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting, and resistance to lodging. The texture of boiled pearled grain is superior to that of the common non-waxy barley. "Kihadamochi" will contribute to the expansion of domestic production of waxy barley, and is expected to contribute to the revitalization of rural communities and promoting economic development in rural areas. Read more

Discovery of new defense mechanism of plants that finds and decomposes the hidden viral genome

The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in collaboration with Saga University has discovered a new virus defense mechanism in plants from soybean. In order to escape the immune system of a host organism, certain viruses create a "hiding location" in infected cells where they amplify the genome. Rsv4 protein made from soybean mosaic virus resistance gene (Rsv4) can prevent infection by finding the "Hiding location" of the virus and digesting the viral genome. Furthermore, by applying this mechanism, we succeeded in creating artificial proteins that suppress the growth of various viruses. Read more

Rapid improvement in wheat characteristics by genome editing

The joint research group consisting of Prof. Kazuhiro Sato, Institute of Plant science and resources, Okayama University and Dr. Fumitaka Abe, Senior researcher, Institute of Crop Science, NARO, has succeeded in developing a plant that is difficult to germinate (long dormancy) even if it gets wet at the harvest time, in a short period of time by using genome editing technology to improve the characteristics of wheat. The genetic information found in barley with simpler genomes was very useful for improving the characteristics of wheat with complex genomes. Read more

Wheat genome sequence completed

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), to which the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Kyoto University participate, has succeeded in deciphering the sequence of the wheat genome. The IWGSC was established in 2005 with the aim of sequencing the genome of wheat, one of the world's three leading food crops that include rice and corn. In 2014, a chromosome-based draft sequence was published. However, since the draft sequence consisted of fine-scale sequenced fragments with no information on the location of genes in specific chromosomes, it is highly desirable to elucidate an accurate reference genome sequence assembled into individual chromosomes. Read more

New mechanism of abscisic acid signaling cascade

A research collaboration of NARO has revealed new functional mechanisms of ABA signaling on seed dormancy and germination using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Until now, it has been thought that a mechanism via ABA receptor was necessary for ABA to function at the time of germination. In addition, a new mechanism involving complex formation of AHG1 PP2C phosphatase with heme-bound DOG1 protein, has been discovered to play a significant role in seed dormancy.
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NICS concluded MOU with IPK

The Institute of Crop Science, NARO (NICS) concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) for collaboration in plant genome research. The MOU was signed by NICS Director-General, Dr. Masahiro Yano and IPK Managing Director, Dr. Andreas Graner on April 5, 2018 at the IPK campus in Gatersleben, Germany. The IPK is one of the world's leading international institutions pursuing extensive research in crop sciences and making important contributions to global food security and sustainable agriculture.

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