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Retirement Party of Hirokazu Kobayashi (Notice)

The principal investigator of this laboratory, Hirokazu Kobayashi, started managing the Laboratory of Plant Improvement, formerly, the Laboratory of Plant Cell Technology, in 1991, after his career as Assistant Professor at Radioisope Research Center, Nagoya University. Afterwards, he accomplished his research and worked for the development of graduate schools and university as Professor, Dean, and Vice-President during these 29 years. He will retire from this university in March, 2020. His Retirement Memorial Party is scheduled as below. His last lecture organized by the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences was done on February 17 (Monday) in 2020 in Japanese with the talk title “Amazing plants! Young people, go out into the world!” (its video available). He established the Green Insight Japan, Inc. (University-Based Company) in August, 2020, to commercialize his patents and experience such as “Japanology.”

Date: Saturday April 25, 2020 12:00 PM   → Postponed in consideration of the spread of coronavirus
Place: Fugetsuro (downtown in Shizuoka City)
Organizers: Keiichi Goto, Masanori Shimizu, and Shingo Goto
Contact: Shingo Goto

Invitation letter: Click here    

Registration: Click here    


The proposal entitled "Production of biologics with lower costs by chloroplast engineering with Light-Switch to express foreign genes specifically” received “Yamaha Motor Corp. Prize” at “Grand Prix of First Shizuoka Tech Planter” sponsored by Leave a Nest, Inc., on July 7, 2018, in Hamamatsu. Another proposal, “Does Light-Switch serve mankind for sustainable society?” was nominated as one of finalists in “Agri Grand Prix 2018,” September 15, 2018, in Tokyo. These proposals were based on the discovery of the Light-Switch as published in PNAS in 2010. This technology was patented as “Constructs for Light-Switch to express objective genes,” the Japanese patent 6385644.

Scope of This Laboratory

The new graduate school, Graduate School of Integrated Pharmaceutical and Nutritional Sciences, was established in 2012 by integration of the former schools, Graduate School of Nutritional and Environmental Sciences and Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. This re-organization was a goal of our COE Programs by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in the Japanese Government starting from 2002 and supported with approx. two billion Japanese yen, being equivalent to 25 million US dollars. Hirokazu Kobayashi who organizes this laboratory, as the dean of graduate school (2006-2011, 2013-2015, 2017-2019) and a vice-presient of this university (2015-2017), contributed to these programs through the promotion of research and educational activities in these graduate schools and scientifically through the molecular improvement of plants to enrich them with nutraceutical and pharmaceutical compounds with all plant-derived DNA sequences for oral intake of humans, as well as to enhance chloroplast functions and tolerance to salt and drought on the basis of scientific interest.


In basic scientific aspects, we are focusing on the underlying mechanisms of the buildup of functional chloroplasts and the maintenance of homeostasis in response to environmental changes or stresses using the model plant, Arabidopsis. In this output, we will improve photosynthetic and metabolic activities necessary for food and substance supply, for absorption of CO2 causing global green-house effect, and for alternative energy production (in non-crops which do not compete against food supply). In the sense of application, we are developing methodology to genetically engineer plants with all plant-derived DNA sequences for a selectable marker and driving expression of objective genes through nuclear and chloroplast transformation. The latter is also beneficial for avoiding the scatter of transgenic genes via pollen. we are applying this methodology to the enrichment of vegetables such as lettuce with polyphenols and biofortification of tea.

  1. The regions where salt accumulates, collectively span an area estimated to be equivalent to the total area of the United States, resulting in a serious social problem worldwide. In paying attention to de-differentiated "calli", we have discovered novel genes for salt tolerance, and a few papers describing these genes have been published in the electric journal PLOS ONE. Novel signal transduction pathways through nitric oxide (NO) is being undergone.

  2. Shizuoka Prefecture is proud of the highest production and consumption of tea in Japan, whereas the genome project of tea plants is behind those of other plants due to the heterozygous genome bigger than that of human. We prepared mRNA from leaves of tea cultivar “Yabukita”, and obtained 473,599 available leads (the highest in the world) in their average size at 460 bp. This EST database is used for improvement of cultivation and manipulation of composition of functional and flavorous substances.

  3. We published the discovery of mechanism by which plant photosystems adjust to variable sunlight in PNAS. This mechanism was reviewed as “light-switch”. We applied the usage of this mechanism for a Japanese patent (2013-050728, patented as 6385644), and we are presently adapting this strategy for the production of bio-similars of biologics such as the best sold medicine “adalimumab” to produce it much more cheaply in plants.

Research Subjects
  1. Chloroplast biogenesis by nuclear genes: Factors for switiching ON or OFF.

  2. Tuning of chloroplast function by plastid gene expression: Roles of sigma-factors of RNA polymerase.

  3. New genes for salt-tolerance: pst (photosynthetic salt tolerance) and stc (salt-tolerant callus) mutants.

  4. Phytogenic strategy for production of nutraceutical compounds and "plantibodies": Nuclear and chloroplast transformation.

  5. Nutraceuticals from plants: Metabolomics and functionality evaluation.

  6. Biofortification of tea: Metabolic engineering on the basis of analysis of expressed genes.

   What this...

Key Words: plant molecular improvement, Arabidopsis thaliana, tea, Camellia sinensis, chloroplast, photosynthesis, salt tolerance, environment preservation, functional food, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, genetic engineering, genetic manipulation, genetically-modified (GM), selectable marker, light-switch, biologics, bio-similars, graduate school, University of Shizuoka