We live in a world filled with plants. Our life is dependent on plants, because we eat fruits and vegetables, and because we use plants as materials for our clothes and homes. Needless to say, plants are indispensable for all organisms on the earth, including human beings, since only plants can produce oxygen and organic substances using carbon dioxide and inorganic substances.
Unlike animals, plants cannot move from the place where they spread their roots. Even if the conditions worsen, they must survive in a given environment. Therefore, plants have developed mechanisms to adapt to the environment, which is different from the mammalian system of adaption. From recent plant research, the small compartments in cells, ‘organelles’, have been shown to be involved in various responses to environmental changes. The dramatic development of bio-imaging analysis tools such as green fluorescent protein (GFP), which won a Nobel prize for chemistry in 2008, has contributed to recent plant science, because it has become easier to biotechnologically introduce GFP and its derivatives into cells, leading to convenient methods of observing the inside of cells. As a result, we can analyze organelle dynamics and obtain insights related to understanding the way plants live, as well as forming a deeper understanding of organelles.
The Scientific Research of Priority Areas on “Organelle Differentiation as the Strategy for Environmental Adaptation in Plants” was started on 2004 to promote a comprehensive understanding of plant organelle research, and we have conducted research with plant scientists all over Japan for the past five years. Fortunately, our results have been highly esteemed, and most of them have been published in scientific journals in English. In addition, we constructed the Plant Organelles Database (PODB), which contains images and movies of various plant organelles that were obtained from this project’s research. This public database has been kept and used for plant science after the Scientific Research of Priority Areas project was completed.
However, these reports are designed for scientists. It is difficult for members of the non-scientific community to understand these results due to the use of many technical terms. Therefore, we opened a new database, ‘The Plant Organelles World’, in March 2010. This database is based on the PODB and users can still view images and movies of visualized organelles in the same way. However, ‘The Plant Organelles World’ is written with simple descriptions, and we avoided the use of technical terms wherever possible. Moreover, we added the new content: ‘What happens, if organelle functions become defective …’ in anticipation that readers will be interested in this subject.
We hope that this database will be a good opportunity to stimulate your interest in plants.
The Plant Organelles Database Committee
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