Institute of Crop Science, NARO

Plant Genome Research Unit

The Plant Genome Research Unit is pursuing extensive analysis of the genome information of Graminaceous crops (wheat, barley, sorghum, rice), discovery of genes responsible for agriculturally important traits and their expression, and development of markers to facilitate efficient breeding strategies.

We are currently involved in the sequencing of the wheat genome as a member of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium to elucidate the gene information of wheat. In addition, using large-scale gene expression profiling, we investigate the expression changes of wheat genes induced by various abiotic stresses and/or diseases. With the genome sequence and gene expression information, we have isolated and identified various useful genes and their function from wheat and barley, such as genes controlling flowering, genes determining the shape of ears, disease resistance genes etc. Through these activities, we are establishing the scientific bases to develop new varieties.

Sorghum, one of major forage crops, has recently been drawing attention as a biomass resource for bioethanol production. We have identified the genes for disease resistance or high biomass production, and using these gene information we are promoting the development of new varieties in collaboration with universities and public research institutes.


Using wheat, barley and sorghum as materials, we analyze their genome information, isolate genes to control agronomic important traits, and identify their function. There are big size differences among the genomes of these crops, but most of functional genes are common. We carry on the research using the genome information of each crop.

Unit Leader

Hirokazu HANDA

Unit Members

Takao KOMATSUDA Senior Principal Researcher
Hiroyuki KAWAHIGASHI Senior Researcher
Hiroshi MIZUNO Researcher