Office: 009 Harned
Phone: (662) 325-8123
B.S. Biological Sciences, Wuhan University, China
Ph.D. Plant Cellular & Molecular Biology, The Ohio State University
Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University
Research Scientist, Department of Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University
Statement of Research Interests
My research interests are classified into two broad categories:
1) Using Potato spindle tuber viroid as a model to understand plant-microbe interactions as well as structure-function relationship of RNAs.
2) Deciphering the RNA-based epigenetic control underlying tomato development.
Understanding plant-microbe interactions and the structure-function relationship of RNAs are of fundamental importance in both basic science and application. Viroids are sub-viral agents made up of noncoding RNAs. Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) is the type species of the Pospiviroidae family. In general, viroids do not encode proteins but replicate and spread in plants, consequently causing diseases. This unique feature prompts many interesting biological questions. For example, how do plants perceive the presence of these infectious yet non-coding RNAs? How do plants defend against viroids’ invasion? How do viroids make plants sick? Research towards understanding these biological processes will advance our knowledge of basic principles of pathology and RNA biology. My laboratory is interested in these research directions.
Besides, transcription from PSTVd RNA genome to antisense RNA intermediates utilizes RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase (RdRP) activity of DNA-dependent RNA Polymerase II (Pol II). Pol II typically uses DNA templates for generating mRNAs, and its shift to using RNA templates confers novel regulation of gene expression. Such RdRP activity of Pol II regulates the stability of a mammalian B2 RNA and the infection of human Hepatitis delta virus (HDV). Thus, understanding RdRP activity of Pol II has enormous implications in basic sciences, agriculture and biomedical research. My laboratory will continue to explore novel auxiliary transcription factors and their mechanisms underpinning the RdRP activity of Pol II.
Epigenetic control of tomato development:
Epigenetic control has been demonstrated to play essential roles in plant growths. My laboratory aims to elucidate the dynamics of RNA regulatory networks underlying tomato development during domestication. Small RNAs (sRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) can be key epigenetic regulators of gene expression. Recent research showed that sRNAs and lncRNAs exhibit dynamic expression patterns even among closely related species. Furthermore, a few less-conserved sRNAs and lncRNAs regulate critical crop traits. My laboratory employs comprehensive comparative genomic approaches to identify and characterize such non-coding RNAs in tomato plants. This endeavor will shed light on novel RNA-based regulatory networks as well as facilitate agricultural applications.