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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...



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