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Washington State University Molecular Plant Sciences

Kiwamu Tanaka

Phone: 509-335-6418
Fax: 509-335-9581
Lab Website:
Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology



◾Ph.D. United Graduate school of Agricultural Sciences, Kagoshima University, Japan (2005)
◾M.Sc.(Agr.) Graduate school of Agriculture, Kagoshima University, Japan (2002)
◾B.Sc.(Agr.) Department of Agriculture, Kagoshima University, Japan (2000)


Plants are continuously exposed to various stresses caused by changes in the environment and attacks by other organisms, i.e., abiotic and biotic stresses. Therefore, plants require sophisticated surveillance systems to detect a potentially life-threatening by recognizing a danger signal. Indeed, plants have evolved a large number of receptor kinases (e.g., >600 genes in Arabidopsis), most of which are likely involved in the response to different stresses. These receptors recognize not only exogenous, enemy-derived molecules but also endogenous molecules and fragments from own damaged cells and tissues as danger signals, referred to as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Plants use DAMPs for damage-self recognition to evoke immune responses and damage healing.

Extracellular ATP is one of the DAMP signals in both animals and plants. Although ATP is well-known as the energy currency molecule in the living cell, once ATP is released into the extracellular space following cellular damage, it acts as a DAMP signal. Our research focuses on the function of this DAMP signal for in-depth understanding of plant defense mechanisms against pathogen and insect attacks. Based on our research, we would further like to determine how we can improve plant growth and vigor and therefore increase crop yields.

Selected Publications

(Full publication list on ResearchGate)

Tanaka K, Choi J, Cao Y, Stacey G (2014) Extracellular ATP acts as a damage associated molecular pattern (DAMP) signal in plants. Front. Plant Sci. 5: 466 doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00446.

Cao Y, Liang Y, Tanaka K, Nguyen CT, Jedrzejczak RP, Joachimiak A, Stacey G (2014) The kinase LYK5 is a major chitin receptor in Arabidopsis and forms a chitin-induced complex with related kinase CERK1. eLife 3: e03766 doi:10.7554/eLife.03766.

Choi J, Tanaka K, Liang Y, Cao Y, Lee SY, Stacey G (2014) Extracellular ATP, a danger signal, is recognized by DORN1 in Arabidopsis. Biochem. J. 463: 429-37 doi:10.1042/BJ20140666.

Liang Y, Tóth K, Cao Y, Tanaka K, Espinoza C, Stacey G (2014) Lipochitooligosaccharide recognition: an ancient story. New Phytol. 204: 289-96 doi:10.1111/nph.12898.

Cao Y,* Tanaka K,* Nguyen CT, Stacey G (2014) Extracellular ATP is a central signaling molecule in plant stress responses. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 20: 82-7 doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2014.04.009 *equal contribution

Choi J,* Tanaka K,* Cao Y, Qi Y, Qiu J, Liang Y, Lee SY, Stacey G (2014) Identification of a plant receptor for extracellular ATP. Science 343: 290-4 doi:10.1126/science.343.6168.290 *equal contribution

Wang J, Tóth K, Tanaka K, Nguyen CT, Yan Z, Brechenmacher L, Dahmen J, Chen M, Thelen JJ, Qiu L, Stacey G. (2014) A Soybean acyl carrier protein, GmACP, is important for root nodule symbiosis. Mol. Plant-Microbe Int. 27 (5): 415-423 doi:10.1094/MPMI-09-13-0269-R

Liang Y, Cao Y, Tanaka K, Thibivilliers S, Wan J, Choi J, Kang CH, Qiu J, Stacey G (2013) Nonlegumes respond to rhizobial Nod factors by suppressing the innate immune response. Science 341: 1384-7 doi:10.1126/science.1242736

Tanaka K, Choi J, Stacey G (2013) Aequorin luminescence-based functional calcium assay for heterotrimeric G-proteins in Arabidopsis. Methods Mol. Biol. 1043: 45-54 doi:10.1007/978-1-62703-532-3_5

Tanaka K, Nguyen CT, Liang Y, Cao Y, Stacey G (2013) Role of LysM receptors in chitin-triggered plant innate immunity. Plant Signal. Behav. 8: e22598 doi:10.4161/psb.22598

Wan J,* Tanaka K,* Zhang X, Son GH, Brechenmacher L, Nguyen THN, Stacey G (2012) LYK4, a LysM receptor-like kinase, is important for chitin signaling and plant innate immunity in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 160: 396-406 doi:10.1104/pp.112.201699 *equal contribution

Tanaka K, Nguyen THN, Stacey G (2011) Enzymatic role for soybean ecto-apyrase in nodulation. Plant Signal. Behav. 6: 1034-6 doi:10.4161/psb.6.7.15601

Tanaka K, Nguyen CT, Libault M, Cheng J, Stacey G (2011) Enzymatic activity of the soybean ecto-apyrase GS52 is essential for stimulation of nodulation. Plant Physiol. 155: 1988-98 doi:10.1104/pp.110.170910

Tanaka K, Swanson SJ, Gilroy S, Stacey G (2010) Extracellular nucleotides elicit cytosolic free calcium oscillations in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 154: 705-19 doi:10.1104/pp.110.162503

Tanaka K, Gilroy S, Jones AM, Stacey G (2010) Extracellular nucleotide signaling in plants. Trends Cell Biol. 20: 601-8 doi:10.1016/j.tcb.2010.07.005