Faculty and research guide

Laboratory of Plant Chemistry

Yasushi Todoroki, Toshiyuki Ohnishi

 This laboratory deals with naturally occurring organic compounds produced by plants and synthesizing nano-scale molecules which have similar structures and function to those original compounds. We understand more and more about the processes of life by going ever deeper with a molecule's eye view of the world – that is, at the nano-level. These themes are based on maxim in bioorganic chemistry which says, “Biological phenomena can be clarified based on the chemical molecules” and on the advancement of chemical biology and biological chemistry. The target of our research is at the interface between chemistry and living organisms. A wide range of experiments, such as genetic manipulation, enzymatic reactions, organic synthesis, chemical isolation and the determination of the structure of natural organic compounds, (making analyses with complex instruments, and performing biological tests), are all carried out here. The most distinctive feature this laboratory is that it offers the opportunity to learn about both chemistry and living organisms.

1. We are developing a molecule that protects plants from desiccation during drought periods. Our molecule inhibits catabolism of the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA). When plants are exposed to dry conditions, high and chilling temperatures, this plant hormone is increased in order to protect plants from them. If this molecule is applied to the plant before it is subjected to environmental stresses, to anticipatorily increase the amount of endogenous ABA, it becomes possible to prevent wilt from drought and damage from salt water or cold-weather effects. We are also developing various molecules that can control the growth or physiology of plants as desired.

2.We focus on discovery of the biosynthetic pathways for plant specialized metabolites found in Agricultural plants, especially tea, corn, stevia, tomato and rice. Plant specialized metabolites serve as attractants of other living organisms beneficial to the plants or as defense against abiotic and biotic stress. There are a huge number of specialized metabolites found in the plant kingdom. Human also take benefits of specialized metabolites as pharmacological drugs and food additive. The project goal is to understand the impact of elucidation of the biosynthesis of specialized metabolism in plant and progress metabolic engineering of specialized metabolites.

Plant specialized metabolites.