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 (RNA-Seq, sRNA-Seq and degradome), metabolomics (GC-MS and HPLC-MS) and CRISPR genome editing, to the more traditional tools of genetics, biochemistry and plant physiology. 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, transcriptomic and metabolomic 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...
- CRISPR genome engineering and related tools Zhou et al. 2015 New Phytol | Xue et al. 2015 Mol Plant | Xue et al. 2015 Tree Genet Genomes
- Sucrose transporters and lignocellulosic biosynthesis Payyavula et al. 2011 Plant J | Frost et al. 2012 PLoS One | Peng et al. 2014 Front Plant Sci
- Tubulin families and vascular development Oakley et al. 2007 Plant Physiol
- Phenylpropanoid metabolism and carbon allocation Tsai et al. 2006 New Phytol | Harding et al. 2009 JXB | Payyavula et al. 2009 BMC Plant Biol | Babst et al. 2014 JXB | Chen et al. 2014 PCP | Harding et al. 2014 Tree Physiol
- 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
- Gene family evolution and functional diversification in core eudicots Tuominen et al. 2011 BMC Genomics | Peng et al. 2014 Front Plant Sci
- Correlation network analysis Xue et al. 2013 Plant Cell | Harding et al. 2014 Tree Physiol
- Bioinformatics and database development POParray | MetaLab | SLIM | CorSig | 717 resources | AGEseq