Senior Researcher: Shigeharu Moriya
Establishment of a concept "Biosphere science":
Our unit performs "multi-omics" analyses in order to understand the complexity of ecosystem function and to establish methodologies for investigating the not-yet-cultivated component of microbial communities. Such novel analysis concepts will open a new horizon in biological science and biosphere science. Biomass is one of the most important research targets in biology today. We consume fossil fuel resources and release carbon dioxide leading to global climate change. Recently, first generation bio-fuels produced from crops instead of fossil fuels have shown promise in partially reducing climate change. However, we now face serious conflicts between bio-fuel production and food production. ・・・
The biosphere contains various organic materials and energy flow. These components include useful materials for bio-fuel production. However, most organisms that contribute to this huge system are unknown microbes that cannot be cultivated. Globally, and particu;larly in the United States, many research efforts to develop such bio-resources are underway using a meta-genomic approach.
The main target of our unit is the useful microbial resources in a given ecosystem. However, our approach is totally different from a metagenome driven strategy. Our approach is a function / molecule driven strategy. For example we have already obtained novel high-performance cellulases from the termite symbiotic system by using meta-transcriptome methods. These enzymes can realize non-chemical / physical process to produce bio-fuels from ligno-cellulose based biomass as a 2nd generation bio-fuel.
Now, we are collaborating with the University of Tokyo, The National Institute of Agrobiological Science (NIAS), Ryukyu University and Nagasaki University to establish a highly efficient utilization system for ligno-cellulose based biomass by using enzymes from the termite symbiotic system. We have also started some collaborative research with private companies. We are also trying to establish a multi-omics approach in order to understand complex material flow and the biotic factors that control it based on the profile of expressed genes, proteins and metabolic pathways. We have already started collaborative research with the Plant Science Center of RIKEN and have already applied for a patent based on our work.
Our goal is to understand complex ecosystem function and to utilize this knowledge to establish basic technology for a sustainable society. We believe that our approach is unique and it will contribute not only in building the technology for a sustainable society but that it will also establish a brand new type of biology: Biosphere oriented biology.
Publication list (Outer Link)
1-7-29 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230-0045, JAPAN
c/o Division of Environmental Molecular Biology, Yokohama City Univ.
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