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Plant Transgenic Design Initiative

 As of 1st April, 2010, the Gene Research Center of the University of Tsukuba, has initiated activities in a Joint Usage/Research Center targeted for Japan as a “Plant Transgenic Design (PTraD) Research Center” in order to advance existing knowledge by promoting collaborative research and education. The center authorized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been established to promote academic research on plant genes and to facilitate collaborative research among researchers in the related field in Japan. This center will become one of the core institutes for research on transgenic plants.


 Japan is now the world leader in plant gene research, as a consequence of policies on advancing scientific research, which strongly promoted by the government since the 1990s. With an increasing demand for researches focusing on the global issues such as food, health, environment and energy, it is expected to apply the research outcome contributing to solve these problems. However, present small-scale researches that are carried out by individual researchers are insufficient to fulfill the increasing expectation from the society. The situation impedes progress of plant gene research and thus needs to be addressed by all the scientists. Thus far, plant gene research has paid less attention to the following aspects: sharing the technologies established by basic scientific research, application of transgenic technologies for different plant species, developing risk assessment and biosafety measures, and determining the know-how of application of transgenic technology in field experiences. The researches with problem solving approach on transgenic plants have fallen behind in its progress and thus integration of “basic research on plant species in various institutes” and “comprehensive technology development on transgenic plants” will be urgently needed. Related academic societies and research communities are also appealing for establishment of a research center for advanced transgenic research in plant species, leading the development of the research in country level. Establishment of the center and effective utilization of the results of the studies will contribute to tackle with the matter of great interest for human being, which is one of the most important tasks of plant gene research. Moreover, food, health, environment and energy are all global issues, and international cooperation research on transgenic plants is indispensable. Lack of a focal institute in Japan has not allowed the international collaborations in the research field and the establishment of a center has been an urgent matter to facilitate the international collaboration.


 The Gene Research Center at the University of Tsukuba has independently fulfilled its objectives for many years by collaborating with government ministries and agencies in Japan for the establishment of national regulations concerning experiments on transgenic organisms and promotion of plant gene research. The center has also conducted advanced research as a core research institute in Japan and accumulated data on tomato, a model plant in fruit research, and eucalyptus, a model plant in tree research. In addition, it has played a leading role in Japan and abroad in research fields such as photoperiodic flowering, environmental stress response, embryogenesis, fruit development, accumulation of functional constituents using various plant species such as morning glory, Arabidopsis thaliana, potato, carrot, melon, and lettuce. At the same time, the center conducted a field trial of Type I Use on transgenic eucalyptus in the “Isolated field”. It was first time for the institutes of the MEXT. With the advanced facilities such as special netted-house and isolated field for conducting assessment studies on transgenic plants, the Gene Research Center at the University of Tsukuba has been recognized as the only research institute for comprehensive research on transgenic plants in Japan, and has been authorized as a Joint Usage/Research Center by the MEXT.


 The Gene Research Center at the University of Tsukuba has decided to develop a “PTraD Research Center” aiming to conduct wide range of researches on development of useful transgenic plants. This center will integrate scientific research on plant genetics and genome information that have been built up in national institutes with the national leading technology in transgenic plants development of Gene Research Center of the University of Tsukuba. The Gene Research Center aims to identify and understand the functions of gene clusters related to the expression of key characteristics in various plants species by applying advance transformation technology.


 PTraD Research Center is comprised with six research divisions from basic research on designing transgenic plants to transmission of information related to the technology. We promote collaborative researches between the members of the Joint Usage/Research and the research communities to fulfill the expectations of society for the plant gene research. We also dispatch the research outcomes to the society in intelligible way. The Gene Research Center is expected to become an international core institute for conducting research on transgenic plans. We keep improving our function and aim to be an international core institute for transgenic research in the future.


Greetings from the Director of Gene Research Center
April 2010
Director, Gene Research Center