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Message from the President


The world is currently facing tremendous global challenges arising from climate change and rapid population growth. Eventually, it is expected that problems associated with food supply and demand will become more and more critical in the next decades. In order to address this issue and guarantee food security in the very near future, it is necessary to establish innovative technologies that will facilitate the development of functional organisms, maximize their inherent potential, and create new industries while at the same time enhancing the competitiveness of Japanese agriculture.

Under this scenario, the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences is pursuing fundamental and advanced researches focusing on the biotechnology of plants, insects, and animals of agricultural importance. During the First Five-year Research Program (2001-2005), we have successfully elucidated the high-quality sequence of the entire rice genome, developed efficient genetic recombination techniques for silkworm, and produced transgenic cloned pigs. With these major achievements, we embarked on the Second Five-year Research Program (2006-2010) focusing on more efficient utilization of the rice genome sequence in crop improvement, particularly in identification of agronomically important genes and characterization of gene functions. This led to the isolation of a novel type of gene that promises resistance to blast disease and the development of a strategy for incorporating this gene in rice without degrading grain taste. In addition, we have also succeeded in deciphering the draft sequence of silkworm and pig genomes. Although it has been merely 2 years since the Third Five-year Research Program was initiated, our ongoing research platforms will further strengthen and accelerate studies in life science with implications in agriculture. In particular, we are currently pursuing the utilization of genetic resources and genome information towards the development of next-generation genome-breeding methods, sequencing the genomes of wheat and a model insect pest, and development of useful technologies to stimulate agricultural innovations. Moreover, application of the genome-breeding technology is being promoted in cooperation with other breeding institutions. We are also endorsing the utilization of gene recombination technology such as the development of rice-based vaccine against cedar pollen allergy, human-animal medicine derived from transgenic silkworm, and immune-deficient pig in collaboration with academic institutions and private enterprises to further stimulate the creation of new industries.

As a core research organization of biotechnology in agriculture, and in collaboration with the academic and industrial sectors, we are committed in pursuing large-scale research initiatives that will lead into major breakthroughs in agricultural productivity and will make significant contribution to the society at large. Towards achieving this goal, we wish to implore everyone for your understanding, full support, and continuous cooperation.

Teruo Ishige

Hirohiko Hirochika