Hitoshi Kihara and
the Life Sciences

Hitoshi Kihara

Throughout the twentieth century, Hitoshi Kihara made many major advancements in the fields of genetics and evolution theory related to higher plants. Some of his most prominent, world-changing research accomplishments included the founding of the genome concept, which he defined as the minimum chromosome set required to make up a living organism; discovering the ancestors of various types of wheat; discovery of the sex chromosome in higher plants based on that found in Rumex acetosa; and his creation of a seedless type of watermelon. Kihara also fostered a number of successors in cytogenetics and numerous other fields, and laid the groundwork for fieldwork in Japan through his repeated travels to other countries in search of plant life.

Major Research Activities
and Accomplishments

  • Discovery of Aegilops tauschii, the ancestor of wheat
  • Synthesis of wheat-related amphidiploidy
  • Cultivation of tetraploid daikon radish
  • Creation of seedless watermelon
  • Creation of triploid sugar beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris)
  • Creation of synthesized ABD-hybrid wheat
  • Discovery of cytoplasmic male sterility
  • Academic investigations in Karakorum and the Hindu Kush Mountain Range
  • Research on mutual translocation in watermelon
  • Barley mutation breeding
  • Research on Oryza sativa (rice plant) phyletic evolution
  • Basic research on crossbred wheat
  • Research on crosswise properties in plants
  • Research on historical changes in the flora of Hakone, Japan
  • Basic research on male sterility in higher plants
  • Research on wheat nucleo-cytoplasm hybrids
  • Research on dwarfing genes in wheat

Personal History

1893 Born on October 21 in Tokyo
1918 Graduated from the Hokkaido Imperial
University Faculty of Agriculture
(studying biology)
1920 Became an assistant at the Kyoto Imperial
University School of Science
1924 Became an assistant professor at the
Kyoto Imperial University School of
Agriculture following its establishment of
the Experimental Genetics Seminar
(the first seminar program in Japan
to use “genetics” in the name)
1927 Became a professor in the Kyoto Imperial
University School of Agriculture's
Experimental Genetics Seminar
1940 Won the first Genes and Genetic
Systems Prize
1942 Became the founding director of the
Kihara Institute for Biological Research
1943 Won the Imperial Prize of the Japan
Academy and the Noma Literary Prize
1944 Became President of The Genetics
Society of Japan
1948 Received the Order of Culture
(a prestigious imperial conferment)
1952 Received the American Society of
Horticulture Award for research on
triploid watermelons
1956 Became director of the National
Institute of Genetics
1969 Retired as director of the National
Institute of Genetics
1975 Honored with the First Class Order of the
Rising Sun
1985 Named as an honorary advisor upon the
founding of the Kihara Memorial Yokohama
for the Advancement of Life
1986 Passed away at the age of 92

Kihara Memorial Room

The Kihara Memorial Room, located in the Yokohama City University Kihara Institute for Biological Research, features documents and exhibits items that provide a look back at life and efforts of Hitoshi Kihara. The room is open to the public and serves to disseminate the accomplishments of Kihara while conveying the joy of exploring the aspects of nature and science we encounter in our everyday lives.

(Outside Link)