Yoichiro (Yoshi) Watanabe

Dr. Yoichiro (Yoshi) Watanabe

Former Mansfield Lab PhD Candidate (Sept 2011 – June 2018)

ResearchGate: Researchgate

Currently Assistant Professor, Division of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Nara, Japan


Uncovering the cellular dynamics of secondary cell wall cellulose synthases

Research Interest

Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer in the world and the main component of plant cell walls. The overall goal of my research is to understand how plant cells synthesize cellulose during secondary cell wall formation by studying the cellulose synthase (CESA) enzymes. In tracheary cells of Arabidopsis thaliana, the secondary cell wall is laid down by CESAs in discrete regions of the cell wall, resulting in spiral or annular wall thickenings. CESA complexes are presumably restricted to the part of the cell membrane adjacent to the thickenings, but there are no obvious constraints on their movement within the fluid cell membrane. Through use of an inducible gene expression system that causes constitutive differentiation of all cells towards a tracheary fate, combined with fluorescently-tagged CESA proteins, I will be able to directly observe the movement and trafficking of secondary cell wall CESAs as they synthesize and deposit secondary cell wall cellulose, by employing various microscopy techniques. In this way, I hope to identify and describe the various factors that control cellulose deposition in the secondary cell wall.


BSc – Cell Biology and Genetics, UBC (2010)
BA – Human Geography, UBC (2010)


Watanabe Y, Meents MJ, McDonnell LM, Barkwill S, Sampathkumar A, Cartwright HN, Demura T, Ehrhardt DW, Samuels AL, Mansfield SD (2015) Visualization of cellulose synthases in Arabidopsis secondary cell walls. Science 350:198-203. DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7446

Schuetz M, Benske A, Smith RE, Watanabe Y, Tobimatsu Y, Ralph J, Demura T, Ellis B, Samuels AL (2015) Laccases direct lignification in the discrete secondary cell wall domains of protoxylem. Plant Physiology 166: 798-807 DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.245597

McFarlane HE, Watanabe Y, Yang W, Huang Y, Ohlrogge J, Samuels AL (2014) Golgi- and trans-Golgi network-mediated vesicle trafficking is required for wax secretion from epidermis. Plant Physiology 164: 1250-1260.

Watanabe Y*, McFarlane HE*, Carruthers K, Lesvesque-Tremblay G, Haughn GW, Gendre D, Bhalerao RP, Samuels AL (2013) Cell wall polysaccharides are mislocalized to the vacuole in echidna mutants. Plant & Cell Physiology 54: 1867-1880.

Gendre D, McFarlane HE, Johnson E, Mouille G, Sjödin A, Oh J, Levesque-Tremblay G, Watanabe Y, Samuels L, Bhalerao RP (2013) Trans-Golgi Network localized ECHIDNA/Ypt interacting protein complex is required for the secretion of cell wall polysaccharides in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell 25: 2633-2646.

Kwan DH, Chen HM, Ratananikom K, Hancock SM, Watanabe Y, Kongsaeree PT, Samuels AL, Withers SG (2011) Self-immobilizing fluorogenic imaging agents of enzyme activity. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 50: 300-303.

Awards, Grants, Scholarships

  • NSERC – Post Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award (2013)
  • UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies – Four Year Fellowship (2010)
  • UBC Department of Botany – Frances Chave Memorial Scholarship and Research Award (2012)
  • Best Poster Award, Gordon Research Conference on Plant Cell Walls  (July 2012)
  • Best Poster Award, Gordon Research Conference on Plant Cell Walls (July 2015)