I have two projects now.First: A previous study showed that a transposable element (Hopscotch) inserted itself in a regulatory region of tb1, which acts as an enhancer of gene expression and partially explains the increased apical dominance in maize compared to its progenitor, teosinte. Since cytosine methylation is known to be associated with transposons and to influence gene expression, I am interested in investigating how DNA methylation patterns in regulatory region of tb1 correlate with apical dominance and tb1 expression.Second: An interesting hybrid dysgenesis phenomenon was discovered in three independent projects from John Doebley and Sherry Flint-Garcia. They each found some BC1 from a kind of teosinte donor parent that comes from Valle de Bravo, when crossed to W22 or B73 start to turn “ugly” and appear sickly. This phenotype continues to appear after subsequent backcrosses, and the sickly syndrome does not improve. This suggests that Bravo is the culprit since the sickly syndrome is seen with both W22 and B73. We also believe it may be epigentic and not a simple genetic factor causing dysgenesis. To study this, I am using RNA-seq(mRNA and small RNA), whole genome bisulfite sequencing , GBS and FISH methods to study what mechanism is involved in this process.
Why I Became a Scientist (or ‘Why I Love My Job’):
Ever since the first year of primary school, I thought I wanted to be a scientist. Although I didn’t have the same reasoning then, I later chose to be a scientist for many reasons. I like to explore the unknown fields, and don't like to repetitive work. I want to understand the truth and I don't like the cheating and shame. I thought I must go to college if I want to be a scientist. After the Cultural Revolution, Chinese high school students had the chance to go to college, however, the admissions to University was very low. Majority of Chinese families are so poor at 1980s. Except for textbooks, I didn't have other books to read or activities to do, so I studied a lot. This lead to a passion in the scientific field.When I was in high school, I developed an interest in plant sciences. Then, I had decided my dream, was to study crop science to help the people in North Korea or Africa who are struggling with hunger. Also, there is an old Chinese saying that roughly translates to "Food is the paramount necessity of people". I thought I would not lose my job if I worked in the field related to the crops. According to my performance of my college entrance examination, I chose the best agriculture university in China, China Agriculture University. Since then, my research has been focused in different areas of plant evolution. For my master’s, I studied rice domestication in Chunqing Sun's lab at China Agriculture University. I investigated flower symmetry evolution in Da Luo's lab at Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences after my master. For my doctorate, my thesis project involved understanding miRNAs during cotton fiber elongation in Tsinghua University. My previous work led me to take a postdoctoral position in the Doebley lab, where I can combine different areas of my previous research to answer interesting questions involving maize domestication.
Ph.D. (Biochemistry and molecular biology) Tsinghua University
Master. (Crop genetics and breeding), China Agriculture University
B.S. (Agronomy) China Agriculture University