Toward durable crop protection technology

Plant diseases cause a great reduction of annual global crop yield. Such loss is equivalent to food for multibillion people. Even at the present day, there are various crop diseases that threaten food secirity in the world. In addition, novel diseases or virulent isolates sometimes come out and they become agricultural and economical problems in not only local areas but also world scale.
Since major crops contain a large amount of sugars and lipids, they are superior resources for biofuels as well. To reduce global warming gas, utilization of bioethanol and biodiesel is getting increased. Accordingly, supplies of food and feeding stuff are decreasing and it reflects their costs.
Plant pathology and plant immunology aim to understand molecular interaction between plants and microbes through studies of mechanisms of pathogen virulences and host defenses. Thus, they can contribute to understanding of nature as well as development of disease control methods applied for agricultural fields. Since crop losses by diseases are serious, improvement of current crop protection technology is an important challenge and urgent issue to establish a sustainable society.
The NOUTOSHI laboratory is one of the groups in the Faculty of Agriculture, Okayama Uniersity. We are using a chemical biology approach to reveal the immune system in plants. A large number of bioactive molecules that inhibit or activate plant defense responses were isolated and their modes of actions have been studying. Plant immune-activating compounds are expected to apply for agrochemicals so-called plant defense activators which are practically used in the agricultural fields.
Recently we started new research projects. One is the elucidation of molecular pathogenicity and host plant immunity of rice sheath blight disease caused by a necrotrophic fungal pathogen, Rhizoctonia solani. To understand this disease at a molecular level, we developed a model pathosystem using Brachypodium distachyon, an emerging model monocotyledonous plant. The other one is the characterization of mode of action of a bacterial biological control agent for grapevine crown gall disease. We are now investigating its disease suppression mechanism. Through these studies, we would like to contribute to crop protection. We believe that these projects are suitable to provide opportunities for students to get scientific knowledge and techniques that contribute to their future career formation in academia or agriculture.
Please contact me freely if you want to join our lab. You can belong to the lab as a student of Okayama University. Students are expected to obtain a scholarship from MEXT through the Japanese Embassy. Please see the links below. The other kinds of scholarships are also available. Of course, privately financed students are also welcome. For Ph.D. holders, you can study here as a post-doctoral fellow using a grant JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowships or the other JSPS international Fellowships for Research in Japan.
  Study in JAPAN Comprehensive Guide
  Scholarship from Japanese Government MONBUKAGAKUSHO (MEXT)
  Application Guide for Enrollment in October 2021/April 2022,
  Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, Okayama University
  General information for Foreign Students, JASSO
  Admission Procedures
  Visa, CESR, Housing and Support Services

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