Outline Purpose and Significance of the Research

Integrating functional molecular science in laboratories
and big-data science in fields to elucidate
key-molecule-network in plant reproduction

Plants foster diverse ecosystems by expanding into various environments on the earth. The evolution of reproductive systems has been essential for their expansion into different environments. However, as recent years’ crop failure shows, plant reproduction cannot withstand recent drastic changes caused by global warming, such that understanding plant reproduction is an urgent need.

Plant reproduction consists of many steps involving various mechanisms: the shift from vegetative to reproductive growth, formation of sex organs and germlines, interaction between gametophytes, fertilization, and seed development. Key molecules with specific and essential functions exist at each step, and when they function one after another like opening multiple locks: they open the door for the birth of the next generation, in which the genomes of male and female parents are appropriately mixed to make new combinations. The network consisting of key molecules is referred here as the “key-molecule-network”. The key-molecule-network changes during evolution, adaptation, and breeding, and it also changes flexibly in fluctuating environments in nature.

Plant reproduction research is among the top leading plant science areas. Particularly, it has shown significant progress in 1) functional molecular science and 2) big data science. Molecular action mechanisms and plant systems driven by the natural environment are becoming clearer. However, examples of the connection between them are still scarce. To elucidate the “key-molecule-network,” we promote the identification of more key molecules and biological systems by large-scale research that integrate these two fields (Fig. Elucidation of Key-Molecule-Network). We will focus on four critical biological issues (Fig. Biology Groups & Networking) and set up seven technology units for tight networking and interdisciplinary research.