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Meiosis is a central event of genetic inheritance, since it generates a new gene combination different from that of parents by homologous recombination. Meiocytes of angiosperm species are produced by several rounds of mitotic division of primordial germ cells, which differentiate at hypodermis of anther (male) and pistil (female) primordia. How do plants differentiate and maintain germ cells subsequent to floral development, and how do they achieve meiosis? We aim to settle these questions by means of various techniques from cytological observation to molecular level analyses, mainly using rice mutants.

  • Analyses of causal genes for seed-sterile mutation
  • Analyses of small RNA pathways promoting germ-cell development and meiosis
  • Studies on the mechanisms controlling transition from mitosis to meiosis
  • Ex situ conservation and distribution of wild rice accessions, and the use of them for genetic and evolutionary researches on reproductive events

Analysis of MEL1, the rice Argonaute gene with specific expression in the germline.
(A) The mel1 mutant is sterile. (B) MEL1 is expressed in germ cells. (C) RNA-immunoprecipitation of wt (1) and muntat panicles (2). (D) MEL1-binding small RNAs derive from >1,000 intergenic loci (blue). (E) ZEP1 doesn't elongate between homolog pairs in mel1 meiocytes.
Panels A-B and C-E were cited from Plant Cell 19: 2583-2594 (2007) and Plant J (2014), respectively, with slight modifications


Komiya, R., Ohyanagi, H., Niihama, M., Watanabe, T., Nakano, M., Kurata, N., and Nonomura, K.I. (2014) Rice Germline-specific Argonaute MEL1 protein binds to phasiRNAs generated from more than 700 lincRNAs. Plant J. 78, 385-397.

Nonomura, K.I., Eiguchi, M., Nakano, M., Takashima, K., Komeda, N., Fukuchi, S., Miyazaki, S., Miyao, A., Hirochika, H. and Kurata, N. (2011). A novel RNA-recognitionmotifprotein is required for premeiotic G1/S-phase transition in rice (Oryza sativa L. ). PLoS Genet. 7 , e1001265 (PMID: 21253568).

Yamaki, S., Nagato ,Y., Kurata, N. and Nonomura, K.I. (2011). Ovule is a lateral organ finally differentiated from the terminating floral meristem in rice. Dev. Biol. 351, 208-216.