Hikaru Sato, co-first author of Endosperm cellularization failure induces a dehydration stress response leading to embryo arrest
Current Position: Project Assistant Professor in Prof. Sachihiro Matsunaga’s lab, Dept. Integrated Biosciences, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Education: MSc Agriculture (The University of Tokyo); PhD Agriculture (The University of Tokyo)
Academic experience: postdoc in the RIKEN institute (Kazuo Shinozaki’s lab) and SLU (Claudia Köhler’s lab)
Non-scientific Interests: walking, reading a book with coffee
Already as a child I became aware of the dramatic effects caused by climate change and the serious consequences for farmers in Japan. I got motivated in developing techniques to increase environmental stress tolerance of agricultural crops and joined the lab of Prof. Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki at the University of Tokyo in Japan, where I started my bachelor course working on transcriptional cascades in response to drought and heat stress conditions. I continued this project in my master and PhD programs. As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Kazuo Shinozaki at the RIKEN institute in Japan, I studied the transcriptional mechanism of abscisic acid biosynthesis during drought stress. The originality and impact of the work from the Shinozaki lab increased my motivation to explore my own research. Financially supported by a HSFP fellowship, I joined the lab of Prof. Claudia Köhler in Sweden, and investigated cell type-specific epigenetic processes in reproductive tissues. I discovered that seed dormancy is regulated by imprinted genes in the endosperm and could show that endosperm cellularization is required to establish dehydration tolerance to the developing embryo, ensuring survival during seed maturation. Thus, my PhD and postdoctoral work converge on dehydration tolerance and I am convinced that studying the relationship between environmental responses and plant reproduction will bring exciting and relevant discoveries.