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October 2019
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  1. Biology Department Seminar

    11 am, John Dunn Seminar Room, Bldg. 463

    Hosted by: Dr. John Shanklin

    Plants depend on the phenylpropanoid pathway to synthesize bioactive phenolic compounds, which are essential for the structure, stress tolerance, nutritional quality, and health benefit of plants and plant products. Meanwhile, lignin, a major product of the phenylpropanoid pathway, is one of the predominant contributors of the recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the phenylpropanoid pathway is central for developing biodesign strategies for high-yield and sustainable bioenergy/bioproduct crops, such as the woody plant poplar. Despite great progress, the molecular details of the transcriptional regulation of the phenylpropanoid pathway in poplar remain poorly investigated. By integrating the population-based genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with post-GWAS functional characterizations (e.g. transcriptomics, metabolomics, and molecular & genetic studies), I have been able to identify new transcriptional mechanisms regulating the phenylpropanoid pathway in poplar. Additionally, my studies have demonstrated an entirely new function of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase, which has been studied for decades with the assumption of a single role. Besides regulatory mechanisms of the phenylpropanoid pathway, I am pursuing to apply my multidisciplinary research system in (1) understanding molecular mechanisms regulating tradeoffs associated with plant immune responses, and (2) functional genomic studies of essential protein motifs critical for human health and crop improvement.

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