PdF,Mol Cell & Org Evo Bio, Harvard University, 1997
PhD & MS Genetics & Pop Bio,University of California, Davis,1992
MS & BA Sichuan Agricultural University, China, 1982,19
A fundamental problem in evolutionary biology is how genes with novel functions originate. My research focuses on this problem, although I am also interested in other issues of molecular evolution. Molecular and evolutionary studies have provided powerful analytical tools for the detection of the processes and mechanisms that underlie the origin of new genes.
We started from the following problems for research. First, at the level of the genome, how often do new genes originate? If new gene formation is not a rare event; Second, are there any patterns that underlie the process? Third,how did new genes contribute to evolution of sex chromosomes and genome organization? Fourth, how did new genes shape species-specific development programs? Five, how did a new gene "invade" and change a preexisting gene network? Finally, how did phenotypes and morphology evolve driven by new genes?
An efficient approach to these questions is examine young genes because their early processes of origination are directly observable. Using experimental and computational genomic analysis, we identified numerous new genes in Drosophila and mammalian genomes. Using molecular analysis, we revealed some important molecular evolutionary mechanisms that control new gene origination. By evolutionary genetic analysis, we observed a significant role of the adaptive evolution in the determination of the fate of those new genes. New genes provide an excellent opportunity to study systems biology.
By using experimental and computational genes-genes interaction analysis, we are investigating how new gene function links are added into gene networks thereby causing cellular functional systems to evolve globally. We found a unique directional gene movement between sex chromosomes and autosomes. Using gene silencing analysis, we recently investigated the evolution of phenotypic effects of new genes in Drosophila and found that new genes can be essential in evolution and development.