Studies on interactions between plants and the environment.
Plant production and ecosystem function
Global environmental problems such as acid rain, global warming, and drought negatively affect plant growth. At the same time, plants have positive effects on local, regional, and global environments by absorbing toxic compounds via leaf stomata and roots. Understanding these relationships is important for utilizing plants to produce food and mitigate climate change. In our laboratory, we investigate interactions between plants and the environment by using special analytical techniques such as gas chromatography, isotopic mass spectrometry, high pressure liquid chromatography, and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry. We also have a great interest in the micrometeorology around plants and try to understand it by using several sensors and instruments. Through these techniques, we can determine the proper environmental conditions for plant production and the methods to utilize plants for improving our living environment.
1. Air quality improvement by plants.
In order to investigate plant uptake capacity of chemical compounds in the atmosphere and soil, we use a special analytical device called proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). It enables us to monitor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted and absorbed by higher plants.
2. Terpenoid emissions by plants.
Isoprene and monoterpene are major compounds emitted from higher plants. They rapidly react with reactive species such as hydroxyl (OH) radicals and ozone (O3) in the atmosphere and produce photochemical pollutants and aerosols. We investigate how the terpenoid emissions by plants are affected by the ongoing climate changes.
3. Plant cultivation under controlled environment.
Crop production in Asia is a critical issue to be considered. We try to develop a sustainable crop production system. Energy saving vegetable cultivation under controlled environment is our main concern, and we use solar panels specially developed for greenhouses.
4. Combining solar photovoltaic panels and food crop production
Solar photovoltaic panels above crop production fields provides benefits to farmers by selling electric power generated by the panels. Optimal density of the solar panels may differ for different crops and this has been unclear. In this study, we measure microclimate under the solar panel to address the optimal environment for crop production.
Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (left panel) and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (right panel).
Leaf cuvette method (left panel) and flux tower for field measurements.