Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science

Plant Immunity Research Group

Group Director: Ken Shirasu (Ph.D.)
Ken  Shirasu(Ph.D.)

Our group’s ultimate goal is to fully describe functions of genes, proteins and small molecular compounds that are essential for immunity in plants. As the first step, we focus on regulatory mechanism of immunity by studying dynamics of resistance signaling complexes and protein modifications that control defense responses. In addition, we plan to identify novel genes involved in plant immunity by isolating defense mutants in model plants. We also collaborate with the Metabolomics Research Group to isolate small molecule compounds involved in disease resistance.

Main Research Field


Related Research Fields

Agricultural sciences

Research Subjects

  • Characterization of plant immunity signaling complexes
  • Characterization of ubiquitin ligases involved in plant immunity
  • Isolation and characterization of novel genes in plant immunity by chemical genetics
  • Plant pathogen genomics
  • Molecular analysis of parasitic plant Striga

Selected Publications

  1. Cui, S., Wakatake, T., Hashimoto, K., Saucet, S.B., Toyooka, K., Yoshida, S. and Shirasu, K.:
    "Haustorial hairs are specialized root hairs that support parasitism in the facultative parasitic plant, Phtheirospermum japonicum"
    Plant Physiol. pp.01786. (2016)
  2. Mutuku, J.M., Yoshida, S., Shimizu, T., Ichihashi, Y., Wakatake., T., Seo, M., Takahashi., A., Shirasu, K.:
    "The WRKY45-dependent signaling pathway is required for resistance against Striga parasitism"
    Plant Physiol 168:1152-1163. (2015)
  3. Conn, C. E., Bythell-Douglas, R., Neumann, D., Yoshida, S., Whittington, B., Westwood, J. H., Shirasu, K., Bond, C. S. Dyer, K. A., Nelson, D. C.:
    "Convergent evolution of strigolactone perception enabled host detection in parasitic plants"
    Science 349: 540-543. (2015)
  4. Kadota, Y., Jan Sklenar, J., Derbyshire, P., Stransfeld, L., Asai, S., Ntoukakis, V., Jones, J.D.G., Shirasu, K., Menke, F., Jones, A., and Zipfel, C.:
    "Direct regulation of the NADPH oxidase RBOHD by the PRRassociated kinase BIK1 is required for ROS bu and plant immunity"
    Mol. Cell 54: 43-55. (2014)
  5. Gan, P., Ikeda, K., Irieda, H., Narusaka, M., O’Connell, R.J., Narusaka, Y., Takano, Y., Kubo, Y., Shirasu,K.:
    "Comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses reveal the hemibiotrophic stage shift of Colletotrichum fungi"
    New Phytologist 197:1236-1249. (2013)
  6. Noutoshi, Y., Okazaki, M., Kida, T., Nishina, Y., Morishita, Y., Ogawa, T., Suzuki, S., Shibata, D., Jikumaru, Y., Hanada, A., Kamiya, Y., and Shirasu, K.:
    "Novel plant immune-priming compounds identified via high-throughput chemical screening target salicylic acid glucosyltransferases in Arabidopsis"
    Plant Cell 24:3795-3804. (2012)
  7. O'Connell R.J. et. al.,:
    "Lifestyle transitions in plant pathogenic Colletotrichum fungi deciphered by genome and transcriptome analyses"
    Nature Genetics 44:1060-1065. (2012)
  8. Yaeno, T., Li, H., Chaparro-Garcia, A., Schornack, S., Koshiba, S., Watanabe, S., Kigawa, T., Kamoun, S., and Shirasu, K.:
    "Phosphatidylinositol monophosphate-binding interface in the oomycete RXLR effector AVR3a is required for its stability in host cells to modulate plant immunity"
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 108: 14682-14687. (2011)
  9. Zhang M., Kadota Y., Prodromou C., Shirasu K., and Pearl L. H.:
    "Structural Basis for Assembly of Hsp90-Sgt1-CHORD Protein Complexes: Implications for Chaperoning of NLR Innate Immunity Receptors"
    Molecular Cell 39:269-281. (2010)
  10. Yoshida S., Maruyama S., Nozaki H., and Shirasu K.:
    "Horizontal Gene Transfer by the Parasitic Plant Striga hermonthica"
    Science 328:1128.(2010)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Ken Shirasu
Group Director

Core Members

Yasuhiro Kadota
Research Scientist
Pamela Hui Peng Gan
Research Scientist
Anuphon Laohavisit
Research Scientist
Shuta Asai
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Yasunori Ichihashi
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Thomas Spallek
Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher
Yuji Ishigaki
Postdoctoral Researcher
Nobuaki Ishihama
Postdoctoral Researcher
Naoyoshi Kumakura
Postdoctoral Researcher
Simon Saucet
Visiting Researcher
Ayako Tsushima
Junior Research Associate
Kaori Takizawa
Technical Staff II
Ryoko Hiroyama
Technical Staff II
Noriko Maki
Technical Staff II
Arisa Shibata
Technical Staff II
Hugh Mulvey
Technical Staff II

Contact information

E618 East Research Building, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa, 230-0045, Japan

Email: ken.shirasu [at]

Recent research results

October 14, 2016: RIKEN RESEARCH
Pinning down parasitic plants