Project

Department of Biotechnology

Graduate School of Engineering

Osaka University

Bio-environmental Systems Engineering

-For sustainable development-

Prof. Hajime WATANABE,

Assoc. Prof. Tomoaki MATSUURA, Assist. Prof. Yasuhiko KATO

 


Establishing a sustainable society is one of the great modern concerns and the importance of an undegraded environment is well-recognized. Many chemicals have been released into the environment as a result of the great advances in synthetic chemistry that support our modern society. However, despite much concern about possible harmful effects of these chemicals, their actual biological effects on humans and wildlife remain unclear. It is self evident that to develop and use these chemicals properly understanding their effects on various organisms is essential. Our laboratory studies the biological responses elicited by environmental chemicals and is establishing a new system for evaluating how these chemicals affect humans and wildlife.

 

Genomics and environment

In order to clarify the effects of chemicals on organisms, we applied ‘omics technologies. This approach enables us to classify many chemicals based on their biological effects and can predict how chemicals with an unknown biology will affect living organisms. This approach can lead to the identification of new biomarkers and the establishment of a new system for chemical evaluation.

 

Chemicals and target molecules

Once a chemical has been shown to affect an organism, it is important to understand which molecular targets mediate the chemical effect.  Therefore, identifying the target(s) through which the chemical(s) act aids in understanding how they act and can also lead to the development of new sensors to detect the chemicals in the environment.

 

Model organisms from ecosystem

Restricting our understanding of chemical action to their effects on mammals and other vertebrates is inconsistent with establishing a sustainable environment.  Since the world’s waters are crucial for all life, we are particularly interested in aquatic organisms such as the water flea (Daphnia) and medaka fish as model organisms that represent ecosystem health. We apply molecular biological and ‘omics technologies to clarify the effects of chemicals on the environment. This “ecotoxicogenomic” approach is promising for evaluating chemical risks on ecosystems as well as .finding useful and potentially unsuspected functions of the same chemicals.