Research Title

Relationship between differentiation and secondary metabolites production in pla
nts.
Elucidation of biosyntheses of plant secondary metabolites.
Dynamics and Function of plant secondary metabolites.
Interrelation between plants and environments.
Breeding and reservation of Medicianl Plants.
Production and regulation of useful plant secondary metabolites in plant tissue
cultures.
Diverse plant secondary metabolites have been used as medicines, agrichemicals,
spices, sweetenings, pigments and cosmetics. They are also expected as the leadi
ng compounds for the establishment of the unique, original drugs having low-side
effects. In recent three decades, the production of such useful secondary metab
olites in plant tissue cultures has been energetically investigated. However, mo
st attempts to the efficient production of these compounds were in failure owing
to the lack of knowledge about the regulatory mechanisms of their production an
d the roles of these compounds in the life of the plants.
In the laboratory of medicinal plant garden, we are investigating the regulatory
mechanisms of secondary metabolites production in plant cells, that is, biosynt
heses, transports and accumulations of them, and the relationship between expres
sions of biosynthetic abilities and differentiation of plant cells, from the sit
es of phytochemical, plant biochemical, plant physiological and molecular biolog
ical aspects, for the sake of the designed and efficient production of useful se
condary metabolites in plant tissue cultures.
1. Relationship between the differentiation of plant cells and the production of
secondary metabolites.
The expression of secondary metabolism in plant cells is closely related to the
differentiation of plant cells, and it is often observed that the lack or the lo
w productivity of secondary metabolites in de-differentiated plant cells. For th
e solution of this problem, it is necessary to clarify the differences between d
ifferentiated cells which posses the secondary metabolites productivity and de-d
ifferentiated cells lacking it. We are investigating the biosynthetic route of l
oganin, the central intermediate of pharmaceutically important indole alkaloids,
for the identification of key enzyme of loganin biosynthesis, whose gene expres
sion is inhibited in de-differentiated cells.
2. Participation of the secondary metabolites-accumulating tissues on the produc
tion of secondary metabolites.
Cork tissues, which had been thought to be a passive accumulation site of lipoph
ilic secondary metabolites, stimulate the production of such compounds in de-dif
ferentiated plant culture cells. This phenomenon suggests that plural differenti
ated tissues, not only the actual biosynthetic cells but also their surrounding
cells, cooperatively regulate the secondary metabolism. To establish this hypoth
esis, the assay of the active principle in cork tissues which stimulate the seco
ndary metabolites production, and the clarification of its regulatory mechanism
are studying.
3. Artificial regulation of secondary metabolism.
Plant cells produce different secondary metabolites, the origins of which are cl
osely correlated. By the suppression of the expendable metabolic flow, the impro
vement of the potential abilities of the supply of the precursor and the specifi
c and more efficient production of designed useful compound is expectable. The a
rtificial regulations of secondary metabolism in plant cells such as boraginaceo
us, umbelliferous and solanaceous plants, by use of plant physiological and mole
cular gentetical methods, are undertaking.