Plant cellulose fibers of width and length ∼0.03 mm and ∼3 mm, respectively, can be completely converted to individual cellulose nanofibers of width and length ∼3 nm and ∼1 µm, respectively, by 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl radical (TEMPO)-mediated oxidation under aqueous conditions and subsequent gentle mechanical disintegration of the oxidized cellulose in water. The obtained TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibers (TOCNs) are new bio-based, crystalline nanomaterials with applications in the high-tech and commodity product industries. Sodium carboxylate groups, which are densely, regularly, and position-selectively present on the crystalline TOCN surfaces, can be efficiently ion-exchanged with other metal and alkylammonium carboxylate groups in water to control the biodegradable/stable and hydrophilic/hydrophobic properties of the TOCNs. TOCNs are therefore promising nanomaterials that can be prepared from the abundant wood biomass resources present in Japan. Increased production and use of TOCNs would stimulate a new material stream from forestry to industries, helping to establish a sustainable society based on wood biomass resources.
In metazoans that undergo sexual reproduction, genomic inheritance is ensured by two distinct types of cell cycle, mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis maintains the genomic ploidy in somatic cells reproducing within a generation, whereas meiosis reduces by half the ploidy in germ cells to prepare for successive generations. The meiotic cell cycle is believed to be a derived form of the mitotic cell cycle; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying both of these processes remain elusive. My laboratory has long studied the meiotic cell cycle in starfish oocytes, particularly the control of meiotic M-phase by maturation- or M phase-promoting factor (MPF) and the kinase cyclin B-associated Cdk1 (cyclin B-Cdk1). Using this system, we have unraveled the molecular principles conserved in metazoans that modify M-phase progression from the mitotic type to the meiotic type needed to produce a haploid genome. Furthermore, we have solved a long-standing enigma concerning the molecular identity of MPF, a universal inducer of M-phase both in mitosis and meiosis of eukaryotic cells.