Akio Morita, Takashi Ikka
he Laboratory of Functional Plant Physiology (A. Morita and T. Ikka) focuses on contributing to food production and human health by making use of the potential of plants under poorly soil conditions. It also focuses on improving the quality of crops. We are growing some plants hydroponically and making cell cultures of their tissues, including from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) that are the major crop in Shizuoka Prefecture. Our research ranges from the level of complete plant down to the molecular level.
 Clarification and manipulation of the tea plant's nutritional and physiological characteristics
Tea plant is a peculiar plant in that it is an acidophil and aluminophile. Clarifying these mechanisms could lead to improvements in crop production in acid soil, which is important because one third of the agricultural land in the world is excessively acidic. We are also studying metabolic control of the theanine, caffeine, and catechins that are specific components of tea. Recently, we have started searching for the genes involved in these components and examining the effect of light on their expression.
 Response of plants to environmental stresses
We are advancing the research on the model plants used for crop improvements. Our aim is to clarify the relationship between tolerance mechanisms and substance which related to abiotic stresses. We are also studying the mechanisms to understanding whole plant functional strategy using integrated omics-analysis such as phenome, transcriptome and metabolome.
 Searching for new physiologically active substances
We are advancing the search for substances that promote the growth of plants, using instrumental analysis. We are also widely engaged in studying useful plant functions, which can be used to clean up the environment. Our faculty is collaborating successfully in isolating new growth-promoting substances.
Tea field (Sato's) about white leaf tea cultivar 'Koganemidori' which is bud mutant.
Growing system of tea plants. Left: Rooted cuttings, Center: Suspension tea cells, Right: Hydroponics.