Dr. Kiwamu Tanaka

Kiwamu Tanaka

Phone: 509-335-6418
Fax: 509-335-9581
Lab Website: https://labs.wsu.edu/tanaka-lab/ and https://people.wsu.edu/profile/kiwamu-tanaka/
Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology

Kiwamu Tanaka.


◾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)

  • Tripathi D, Zhang T, Koo AJ, Stacey G, Tanaka K (2018) Extracellular ATP acts on jasmonate signaling to reinforce plant defense. Plant Physiol 176: 511-523 doi:10.1104/pp.17.01477
  • Moroz N, Fritch KR, Marcec MJ, Tripathi D, Smertenko A, Tanaka K (2017) Extracellular alkalinization as a defense response in potato cells. Front Plant Sci 8: 32 doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.00032
  • Nguyen CT, Tanaka K, Cao Y, Cho W-H, Xu D, Stacey G (2016) Computational analysis of the ligand binding site of the extracellular ATP receptor, DORN1. PLoS One 11: e0161894 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161894
  • Hadwiger LA, Tanaka K (2015) EDTA a novel inducer of pisatin, a phytoalexin indicator of the non-host resistance in peas. Molecules 20: 24-34 doi:10.3390/molecules20010024
  • 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
  • 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
  • Wan J, Tanaka K, Zhang X, Son GH, Brechenmacher L, Nguyen THN, Stacey G (2012) LYK4, a lysin motif 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
  • Tanaka K, Nguyen TC, 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, 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 [Cover of the issue]