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   Location:Home > Research > Research Divisions > CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Plant Resource and Sustainable Use
Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineer Group
Author: Liu Aizhong
Update time: 2009-12-18
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 Head of the Group: Prof. Dr. Liu Aizhong

E-mail:  aizhongliu@gmail.com;  liuaizhong@xtbg.ac.cn

Website: http://mgge.groups.xtbg.cn



The main mission of this group is to investigate the plant genetic basis and engineering of agronomically or horticulturally important traits, with special reference to the oilseed plants.

The main researches involve three aspects:

1) Molecular genetic and engineering of plant storage lipids: 

 Plant storage lipid (triacylglycerols, i.e. TAGs) is one of the world’s most important plant commodities with enormous potential for nutritional and industrial

exploitation (such as biodiesel’s feedstock). Though many studies on the individual enzyme and of genes coding their activities during the biosynthesis of plant storage lipids were reported, to date, much less is known about the molecular basis of overall limit and regulation of carbon flux to TAGs. This quantitative aspect of storage lipid accumulation is important for attempts to raise overall oil yields in crops and for adjusting the balance between TAGs and other storage materials. With special interest, we identify and characterize key genes involved in biosynthesis and accumulation of TAG and test their overall limit and regulation to TAGs biosynthesis during the development of seeds (fruits). Specifically, we isolate and identify potential important genes such as diacylglycerol acyltransferase gene (DGAT), glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (Gly3PDH), which are probably the limit or regulation factors to TAGs biosynthesis, from castor bean (Ricinus communis L.), jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) and oil palm (Elaeis guineensisJacq.). Obtaining these genes, we test their regulation function or limit to overall TAGs accumulation using gene modification techniques (such as gene over-expression or gene lock-down) combined with metabolic control analysis methods. Finally, we engineer key genes characterized by transgenic techniques in practice.


2) Jatropha breeding with molecular marker assistant


With the need of biodiesel, Japropha was put more attention to the exploitation and utilization as biodiesel from its seed oil in these years. The breeding and improvement is a critical issue to exploit and utilize jatropha oilseed as feedstock for biodiesel. Based on EST library, we develop SSR markers, screen polymorphisms among populations and various mutants and detect the markers linked interest traits among individuals. Eventually, we seek high efficient molecular markers and apply them in practice.

3) Molecular evolution

Plant storage lipid displays rich diversity (e.g. 12:0, 14:0, 16:0, 18:0, 18:1, 18:2, 20:2, 20:4, 22:4) in composition. Very little is known about the evolutionary process and sense of the diversity of plant storage lipid in composition. We are interested in probing into the evolutionary process and sense of key genes (such as DGAT, FAD2 and KSIII) controlled TAG biosynthesis.



Here is a newly-established group. Since this group was established in June 2008,

PI Dr. LIU Aizhong with his assistants have been working on: 

1. constructing cDNA library for Jatropha; 

2. isolating and cloning of key genes DGAT and Gly3PDH during TAG biosynthesis

from Castor bean, Jatropha; 

3. developing EST-SSR markers to service the breeding of jatropha.



The group has established tightly cooperation with Dr. W. John Kress from

Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. John M. Burke from University of Georgia.



Selected Publications:

1. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Nicklas Samils, Brian Higgins, Jan Stenlid, Bernard Slippers, C. Joseph Narin, and Sarah F. Covert. 2008.Development of nine microsatellite markers for Phlebiopsis gigantea. Molecular ecologynotes. (in press)

2. Liu, Ai-Zhong and John M. Burke. 2008. Polymorphism, haplotype structure and evidence of positive selection on Pgic in wild sunflower. BMC Plant Biology. (under review)

3. Liu, Ai-Zhong, W. John Kress, and Li De-Zhu. 2008. A phylogeny of the banana family (Musaceae) based on nuclear Ribosomal (ITS) and Chloroplast (trnL-F) evidence. Systematic Botany. (in press)

4. Liu, Ai-Zhong and John M Burke. 2006. Patterns of nucleotide diversity in wild and cultivated sunflower. Genetics 173: 321-330.

5. Wills, David M., Hester, L. Melissa, Ai-Zhong Liu and John M. Burke. 2005. Chloroplast SSR polymorphisms in the Compositae and the mode of organellar inheritance in Helianthus annuus. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 110: 941-947.

6. Kress, W. John, Ai-Zhong Liu, Mark Newman, and Jing-Jun Li. 2005. The molecular phylogeny of Alpinia (Zingiberaceae): A complex and polyphyletic genus of gingers. American Journal of Botany. 92: 167-178.

7. Funakoshi Hidenobu, W. John Kress, Jana Skornickova, Ai-Zhong Liu and Ken Inoue. 2005. Return from the Lost: Rediscovery of the presumed extinct Leptosolena (Zingiberace) in the Philippines and its phylogenetic placement in Gingers. ActaPhytotaxonomyandGeobotany. 56(1): 41-53.

8. Liu, Ai-Zhong, W. John Kress, and Long Chun-Lin. 2003. Customary use and conservational attention to Musella lasiocarpa (Musaceae), an endemic plant to China. Economic Botany. 57: 279-281.

9. Yang, Shi-Xiong, Liu Ai-Zhong, Peng-Hua, and Wu Zheng-yi. 2003. Stomatal apparatus of Pyrenaria (Theaceae) and its systematic significance. Guiaia. 23 (3): 250-252.

10. Liu, Ai-Zhong, W. John Kress, Wang Hong, and Li De-Zhu. 2002. Insect pollination of Musella lasiocarpa (Musaceae), a monotypic genus endemic to Yunnan. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 235: 135-146.

11. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Li De-Zhu, Wang Hong, and W. John Kress. 2002. Ornithopilous and chiropterophilous pollination in Musa itinerans (Musaceae), a pioneer Species in Tropical Rain Forests in Yunnan, SW China. Biotropica: 34: 254-260.

12. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Li De-Zhu, and Li Xi-Wen. 2002. Taxonomic notes for wild bananas (Musa) from China. Botanical Bulletin of Academia Sinica. 43: 77-81.

13. Liu, Ai-Zhong and Li De-Zhu. 2001. The identity of Musa wilsonii Tutch. in Chinese botanical literature. Acta Botanic Yunnanica. 43: 77-81. (in Chinese)

14. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Li De-Zhu, Wang Hong. 2001. Pollination Ecology of a Pioneer Species: Musa itinerans (Musaceae) in Xishuangbanna, S Yunnan, China. Acta Botanica Sinica 43: 319-322. (in Chinese)

15. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Pei Sheng-Ji, and Chen San-Yang. 2000. Sacred groves of the Yi people and biodiversity conservation in Chuxiong, Yunnan, China. ChineseJournal of Applied Ecology. 11 (4): 489-492. (in Chinese)

16. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Pei Sheng-Ji and Chen San-Yang. 2000. Investigation and studies on the plant worship of the Yi people in Chuxiong, Yunnan, China. Chinese Biodiversity. 8(1): 130-136. (in Chinese)
17. Liu, Ai-Zhong and Long Chun-Lin. 1999. Advances in Ethnobotany. Advances in Botany. 2: 213-219. (in Chinese)

18. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Pei Sheng-Ji, and Chen San-Yang. 1999. Plant Worship of the Yi People in Chuxiong of Yunnan, China. Ethnobotany11 (1) 1-8.

Book Chapters

19. Liu, Ai-Zhong and W. John Kress. 2005. A plant diversity center in southwest China and northeast Myanmar, the Gaoligong Mountains. In: Plant Conservation: A Natural History Approach, Gary A. Krupnick and W. John Kress (eds), The University of Chicago Press. Pp. 86-92.

20. Liu, Ai-Zhong. 2003. Musacecae. In: W. John Kress et al. (eds), Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, and Climbers of Myanmar. Washington DC: Smithsonian Press. P. 63.

21. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Pei Sheng-Ji and Chen San-Yang. 1999. Plant culture of the Yi and biodiversity conservation in Chuxiong of Yunnan. In: Xu Zhi-Hong (ed), Toward Chinese Biodiversity in the 21th Century. Beijing: Chinese Forestry Press. Pp. 38-45. (in Chinese)

22. Liu, Ai-Zhong, Pei Sheng-Ji and Chen San-Yang. 2000. Investigation and studies on the sacred forests of the Yi in Chuxiong of Yunnan. In: Xu Jian-Chu (ed), Enthnobotany and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Resources. Kunming: Yunnan Science and Technology Press. Pp 271-280. (in Chinese)

23. Liu, Ai-Zhong. 1997. Chapter 5, Ecology. In: Pei, Shenji & He Shan-An (eds), Ethnobotany: A Methods Manual. Kunming: Yunnan Science and Technology Press. Pp 149-191. (in Chinese)



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Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
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