Our lab originally focus on the study of plant microRNAs. As a type of endogenous small RNAs, microRNAs get involved in almost all kinds of life processes including growth, development, reproduction, disease and responses to environmental challenges. We started to identify plant microRNAs via bioinformatic methods to parse high-throughput sRNA sequencing, and large numbers of not deeply conserved and species-specific microRNAs are discovered. Much effort has been made to develop bioinformatic tools, construct databases, and uncover the evolutionary scenarios of microRNAs in a wide range of plants. We also explored several cases where sRNAs could be implemented into breeding practice.

In 2017, we extended our research interest to fundamental research and breeding practice on lettuce. From 90s of last century, the need of lettuce in China has been soared. Currently, the production of lettuce in China has reached to around 15 million tons a year, accounting for more than 50% of the world yield. However, researches on lettuce especially breeding practice are quite limited. We employed such the cutting-edge biotechnologies to assist lettuce research as multiple omics platforms and genome editing.

Lettuce belongs to the largest angiosperm family, Asteraceae, which has over 1000 genera and more than 30,000 species. The species in Asteraceae are distributed widespreadly, from subpolar to tropical regions, in a wide variety of habitats. Many Species could be found in hot desert and cold or hot semi-desert climates. However, the reasons why the Asteraceae is so ecologically successful are not clear, in particular from molecular perspectives. In terms of comparative genomics, some insights have been provided based on our preliminary studies.

  • Diverse studies on plant microRNAs
  • Fundamental research and breeding practice on lettuce
  • Insights on diversity and adaptation of Asteraceae