The Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO (NIAS) focuses on understanding the biological phenomena of agriculturally important plants, insects, microbes and animals to create innovative technologies, and eventually contribute to the solution of global issues such as food shortage due to rapid population growth and environmental problems due to climate change. NIAS is doing research and development to create new industries and new demands in the field of agricultural and medicinal industries by applying genetic engineering technologies to plants, insects and animals. In plants, for example, we are developing new rice varieties resistant to major diseases including blast. Moreover, we will include non-clinical and clinical research trials of rice-based edible vaccines for curing cedar pollinosis. In insects, we are developing medicinal materials from silk protein and medicines for humans and animals using transgenic silkworm. Furthermore, we are developing transgenic pigs to produce immune-deficit pigs and animal models for human diseases.
The Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO (NIAS) has discovered that the salivary protein NcSP75 is essential for feeding from phloem sap in green rice leafhopper (Nephotettix cincticeps). Suppression of the expression of this gene induces inhibition of sucking from phloem, resulting in growth retardation of nymphs, and decreasing the number of eggs laid by the female. This protein could be used as a potential target in developing a biologically efficient technology to protect rice plants from the pest damage.Read more.
The Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO (NIAS) has discovered that certain proteins (MLX56 family proteins) contained in mulberry latex inhibit pest growth with a completely new mechanism that has never been reported. This family of proteins were found to cause digestive disfunction by abnormally thickening the thin peritrophic membrane in the digestive tract of larvae of moths. Moreover, it inhibits the growth of larvae remarkably even if it is added to the diet at an extremely low concentration of 0.01-0.04%. Read more.
A research collaboration of the Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO (NIAS), Chiba University and University of the Ryukus has shown that the male population of the insect green lacewing (Mallada desjardinsi) was extremely low due to high frequency of infection by the male-killing bacteria Spiroplasma. Subsequent study after five years revealed that the green lacewing population in the field has recovered due to the rapid evolution of the genetic resistance against the male-killing bacteria. This research result is a direct evidence of evolutionary arms race that arises between the sex-manipulating bacteria and the host insect.Read more.
The research group of Dr. Takahiro Kikawada and Dr. Richard Cornette of the Molecular Biomimetics Research Unit, Division of Biotechnology, in collaboration with the research group of Dr. Oleg Gusev from the RIKEN Innovation Center have discovered that a heat shock transcription factor gene (Hsf1) can control extreme desiccation tolerance in the sleeping chironomid (Polypedilum vanderplanki ), a mosquito-like insect found in semi-arid areas of Africa and known for its desiccation tolerance (anhydrobiosis). Read more.