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◇ Field Informatics
◇ Field of Research on Crop Production Management Systems
◇ Field of Research on the Function and Regulation of Animal Production
◆ Field of Research on Crop Genomic Breeding
◇ Field of Research on Fruit Tree Genomic Breeding
◇ Field of Research on the Development and Utilization of New Breeding Materials for Ornamental Plants

Outline of field of research on Crop Genomic Breeding
 The recent progress in genome sciences has been remarkable, as has been shown by the full- genome sequencings in many crops. Among the research fields relevant to agriculture, crop breeding is one of the fields that is most promising in terms of opportunities to apply the results of genome sciences. On the other hand, because crop breeding targets various crop species, we need to fully understand the intrinsic characteristics of each crop and, furthermore, to develop application technologies for genome sciences, such as the targeting of the genetics of a crop on the basis of the stage of the research. 

 In our research programs on Crop Genomic Breeding we aim to use the results of genomic research for actual crop breeding. To do this, we are promoting our education and research mainly on the following themes, for which the main target crops are rice, soybean, wheat and barley depending on the different stages of our genomic research:

・Elucidation of the mechanisms responsible for crop quality improvement
・Development of efficient crop traits evaluation methods for genetic analyses
・Genetic analyses and development of molecular markers for important agronomic characters in crop plants
・Molecular cloning of genes with agronomic importance in crop plants and elucidation of their functions
・Development of breeding programs and strategies by incorporating the selections based on genome information in crop plants.
 In the following section, some examples for each main target crop are shown, but the research area covered by crop genomic breeding is not necessarily limited within these research examples. You can freely choose your research subject. In addition, students who want to study in this field do not need to start out with both expertise in genome sciences and agricultural and biological knowledge. Crop genomic breeding is a new research field, and this is the first opportunity our three tutors have had to participate in education. We hope to pioneer this new research field with our students without sticking to our experience alone or to the existing academic field.

Chikako Kiribuchi-Otobe
   Starch and gluten (wheat specific protein) are the major components of wheat flour, and various uses of flour are mainly determined by gluten character. We have been emphasized the study of starch character and developed lines with altered starch character such as waxy wheat and low amylose wheat. We are now developing wheat lines having the unique combination of gluten and starch character, which can receive wide application. In the selection process, DNA markers are used.

Endosperm starch stained with 0.2% KI – 0.04% I2 solution.
(Left: normal wheat Right: waxy wheat)

Junichi Tanaka
Breeding is one of the most important technologies for supplying sufficient food to feed the world’s increasing population. The wisdom of researchers is now being tested to achieve the best breeding performance using the recent progress in genomic analysis techniques.

DNA marker techniques have become widely used for selecting early generations and breeding isogenic lines of many annual crops. DNA markers have been used to improve the efficiency of conventional breeding. On the other hand, genome analysis techniques, such as next-generation sequencing technology, have made remarkable progress, and the era of full genome sequencing of each individual is expected to arrive soon. New methods that fully utilize genome information will be required, for which the following two facts may hold the key:
1) Genomic selection is producing good results for domestic animal breeding.
2) Improvements in the yield of major autogamous crops such as rice have slowed down, whereas the yield of maize, especially in the US, has increased steadily through breeding based on wide genetic diversity and recurrent selections.

Therefore, I hope to establish new breeding methods consisting of outcrossing processes using male sterility, generation advancement, genomic selection and so forth in autogamous crops. To achieve this method, transgenic technology, generation advancement technology, outcrossing technology in artificial environments and full-genome marker selection technologies are needed. A single laboratory cannot support all these technologies, so collaboration with other researchers having different skills is essential.
Having just joined Tsukuba University, I am looking forward to gathering young people’s ideas to create a new era.

Katsuhiro Matsui
Buckwheat is eaten not only in Japan but in a world large area. In addition, the buckwheat includes a lot of flavonoid-based compounds and is known as the ingredients which are high in functionality. However, there is a problem that it is difficult to fix traits because the buckwheat is cross-pollinating crops due to self-incompatibility. We develop a self-compatibility line and use it for studies such as developing new varieties and genetic analysis (Figure 1). In addition, we have isolated genes of enzyme and transcription factor which has not been identified and works in the flavonoid synthetic pathway in buckwheat, and are developing cultivars which have high functionality efficiently.

Figure. A selection marker linked to S locus in buckwheat. We can deduce the phenotype of S, self-incompatibility or compatibility from the genotype.
Lo, Long homostyle (Self-compatibility) the genotype is homozygous, Le, Long homostyle (Self-compatibility) the genotype is hetelozygous P, Pin (Self-incompatibility)