Labs and Faculty
Inter-Institutional Cooperative Laboratories
Laboratory of Applied Bioresources

NAITO Ken Assoc. Prof. Ph.D.

Other Affiliations: National Agriculture and Food Research Organization

Plant breeding, Genetic resources, Plant genetics, Plant genomics


Crop wild relatives, Adaptation, Whole genome sequencing


While environmental stresses are the biggest problem in agriculture, wild plants have already solved the problems. They are well adapted to harsh environments where many other plants would easily die. How is it possible? It is already an interesting question to ask, but may be 100 people out of 100 will also consider; “If we find an answer to the question, we can apply and make a resilient crop.” Yes, the research in my lab is interesting and useful. I hope you can share this mind with me. And I hope you would feel like “Diversity is the treasure.”


My motivation comes from the impression that I had at the first sight of wild Vigna plants. They live in marine beach, arid desert, flooded swamps and limestone rocks… The beach species can survive in 3% salt water, and the desert species can survive for a month without water. The pH in limestone should be very high. What if, I thought, Charles Darwin were still alive and had seen these plants? What would he say about them?
While I was impressed with wild Vigna, I also thought they could be a key for the problem of food security. I majored agriculture because I had a green dream of making a super-crop to end hunger. Later I realized many biotechs that had once made me excited turned out to be not so great as expected, and I had almost changed my mind to live along basic research. But, the wild Vinga plants reminded me of my green dreams.
If we would understand the mechanisms of their adaptation, and assemble those mechanisms into a single crop,… I have this kind of imagination every day. Of course it could be nothing but a dream, but Dr. Norman E. Borlaug was seriously tackling this issue and achieved the Green Revolution. So I tell myself, “What is wrong if I have the same dream as he did?”, and do research as I did yesterday.

  • 野生に生きるアズキの仲間

  • 伊良部島でのサンプリング


2020-present: Senior Principal Scientist, Research Center of Genetic Resources, NARO
2015-present: Associate Professor, Laboratory of Applied Bioresources, Department of Integrated Bioscience, Grad School Frontier Science, Univ. Tokyo
2015-2020: Principal Investigator, Genetic Resources Center, NARO
2010-2015: Research Scientist, Genetic Resources Center, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences
2008-2010; Postdoctoral Fellow, Plant Biology Department, University of Georgia, USA
2007: Ph. D. Kyoto University
2002; B. Sc. Department of Agriculture, Kyoto University