Welcome to the Tsai lab! I am a plant biologist with a special passion for large organisms - trees! Trees are ‘large' not merely by their physical or genome size, but primarily by their longevity. Longevity depends on a perennial growth habit, which can mean added functionalities for genes, proteins and metabolites compared to herbaceous annuals. The quest for 'what makes a tree a tree' has led to various projects ranging from gene family evolution and functional diversification, to transgenic manipulation of traits important to growth and development. Needless to say, our research has industrial relevance due to the importance of forest trees as renewable feedstock. Our work is also of ecological relevance, because many of the traits we investigate are important in tree interactions with herbivores and pathogens.
We use a variety of experimental approaches in our investigations, ranging from transcriptomics (microarray and RNA-Seq), metabolite profiling (GC-MS and HPLC-MS) and bioinformatics, to the more traditional tools of genetics, biochemistry, plant physiology and transgenics. We accept technical challenges, and have many times developed or adapted necessary tools to advance our research. For this reason, our lab regularly hosts visiting scholars for technical training, such as insitu hybridization, microarray and metabolite profiling analysis.
Interested in doing research in our lab? Below is a list of ongoing projects as well as future research ideas that are brewing in the lab...
- Sucrose transporters and lignocellulosic biosynthesis Payyavula et al. 2011 Plant J | Frost et al. 2012 PLoS One
- Tubulin families and vascular development Oakley et al. 2007 Plant Physiol
- Phenylpropanoid metabolism and carbon allocation Harding et al. 2009 J Exp Bot | Payyavula et al. 2009 BMC Plant Biol
- Salicylate metabolism Babst et al. 2010 J Chem Ecol | Xue et al. 2013 Plant Cell
- Alternative splicing and gene duplication Yuan et al. 2009 PNAS
- Phylogenomics of gene families involved in Populus secondary metabolism Tsai et al. 2006 New Phytol | Tuominen et al. 2011 BMC Genomics
- Gene family evolution and functional diversification in core eudicots
- Epigenetics and alternative splicing
- Correlation network analysis Xue et al. 2013 Plant Cell
- Bioinformatics and database development POParray | MetaLab | SLIM | CorSig