Bionext Project- Tsukaya Laboratory, Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience, National Institutes of Natural Sciences

Research Contents

Japan is a worldwide leading country in the field of developmental biology. According to the Web of Science statistics published on Sept. 22, 2014, Japan occupied the first place in “Hot paper ranking”, and won the second place in the number of paper citations for the 10 years between 2004 and 2014. Furthermore, Japan is a worldwide leader in the field of metabolomics, indeed two Japanese scientists in this particular field, including Masami Y Hirai (Riken Team Leader), were recently classified by Thomson Reuters report as “The world’s most influential scientific minds”. Nonetheless, cooperation between molecular biologists, Developmental Biologists and metabolomics researchers has been restricted to a tiny part of the Okazaki Institute for Integrated Bioscience, in which the organizational collaboration and information integration is far from being reached.

In recent years, however, an unexpectedly increasing number of metabolic-related factors have emerged from forward-genetic based approaches of a specific developmental process. Therefore, systematic integrated analysis of metabolomics and developmental biology is likely to lead to the discovery of yet unknown fundamental factors that have been overlooked so far. This particular frontier has not yet been fully implemented in Japan and in the rest of the world.

So here, it was decided to run this new core project as the pillar of cooperation between metabolomics and developmental biology. Here we will establish a thick pipe with RIKEN, to set up a cooperation network between the Okazaki Institute for Integrated Bioscience and the RIKEN metabolomics team. This project’s core task consists of building a collaborative network of domestic and foreign researchers, to apply cutting edge metabolomic tools to a wide variety of biological phenomena. This project started from the winter of 2014, for the period of five years. This project promotes the settlement of a whole unheard-of new research area of bioscience that should dramatically boost the entire field of Biological Sciences in Japan.

Provided that equipment used for metabolomics analysis differs based on the compounds to be analyzed, Dr. Shigenobu from the National Institute for Basic Biology and Biological Function Analysis Center, The RIKEN Team Leader Dr. Masami Y Hirai, and Dr. Akira Oikawa at the Tsuruoka Branch of RIKEN are preeminent candidates.

The target that lays in the core of this project is developmental phenomena, but the elucidation of yet unknown metabolites that control leaf morphogenesis and developmental of Arabidopsis thaliana is one major theme, however, as a whole, this project will not be merely restricted to studies of various developmental processes, rather, we will take advantage of the wide range coverage of then research field in the Okazaki Institute for Integrated Bioscience for the widest application of metabolomics in a collaborative research base.

From such an approach and regardless of animal and plant systems, the metabolites responsible for development regulation in multicellular organisms, and their control systems can be elucidated. Shall this project promote the discovery of an entirely new generation of developmental regulatory systems, which has conventionally been regarded as a black box.