Research interests and goals
Based on the diverse oleophytes in tropical areas of China and neighboring countries, the plant resources enriching unusual fatty acids will be investigated, evaluated and screened systematically. We are focusing on discovering the metabolic mechanisms of functional lipids, domesticating the tropical wild oleophytes, separating and purifying the functional oils and fatty acids, producing high value-added products with functional oils, and exploring the roles of plant lipids in the ecological adaptation and species evolution. The following three topics are our main research themes:
1. Study on the metabolic mechanism of unusual fatty acids:
Our research focuses on exploring the health benefits, medicinal value, and unique industrial applications of specific fatty acids. We will investigate the wild plants those are enriched in these above fatty acids utilizing theoretical and methodological approaches from the fields of botany, omics, molecular biology and biochemistry. Our goal is to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying the synthesis and accumulation of these unique fatty acids, as well as identify the genes responsible for their specialized functions, thereby creating a foundation for molecular-assisted and biotechnological breeding.
2. Research on the biological roles of plant lipids:
Our research draws on principles and methods from biochemistry, ecology, microbiology, and evolutionary biology to elucidate the critical role of lipids in plant life cycles. We seek to address scientific questions regarding the biological functions of specific fatty acids and lipid molecules, and their impact on plant adaptability under varying external ecological conditions. By examining the dynamic changes in lipid patterns across plant distribution, we aim to establish a theoretical basis for the efficient domestication of plant resources.
3. Key technologies for the development and utilization of functional oils:
More than 450 fatty acids with different structure have been found in plants, with only a few of them have been demonstrated to possess valuable pharmaceutical and industrial properties. However, the special functional oils are mainly found in a few wild plants, and limited availability of raw materials and products are hindering their rational and efficient development and utilization. To address these challenges, the theoretical and methodological approaches of microbiology and chemical engineering will be utilized to break through the in vitro production, separation and purification of special fatty acids, as well as the technology of structure modification, providing a theoretical basis for the innovative development and utilization of these products.