- PhD, Biology, Duke University, 2012
- BS, Biotechnology, Fudan University 2007
Area of Expertise:
- Systems Biology
- Interaction between Circadian Clock and Plant Immunity
My research interest lies in integrating cutting-edge sequencing technologies, modern Bayesian statistical algorithms and emerging systems biology approaches to investigate the temporal regulations of plant immune responses. Through a combination of innovative experimental (reverse population genetics, RASL-seq) and computational (pvclust, non-negative matrix factorization) approaches, I demonstrated the circadian clock control on plant immune system for the first time. This work was published in Nature and has been reported by several major media including New York Times, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Faculty of 1000.
My recent studies showed that plant immune hormone, salicylic acid (SA) can reinforce the central circadian clock and this reinforcement can help fine tune the timing of immune responses. Through ODE-based dynamic models, I further predicted and confirmed additional links between the central clock and immune machinery. This unveiled the design principle of how an arrhythmic redox signal triggered by SA can be integrated by the clock and transduced as an oscillatory output to time the immune responses. This work is currently in revision in Nature.
The revelation of the reciprocal interactions between plant immunity and the circadian clock illustrates a high complexity of this interface. Preliminary data suggested that the influence of immune responses on the circadian clock appeared to be specific to certain developmental stages, adding one more layer of complexity. To dissect this novel but complicated interface and unveil the biological significance of this architecture from an evo-devo-eco perspective, I will integrate experimental and computational approaches for my further research projects here at ISU.