Research Area

A central task in evolutionary biology is to understand how genotypes affect phenotypes and whether/how natural selection operates during this process. We are interested in a wide range of topics related to this question. Our current research focuses on gene regulation mediated by small RNAs (microRNAs, endogenous siRNAs and piRNAs) and long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) from perspectives of evolutionary biology.

The whole genome sequencing projects in flies (about 500 strains of Drosophila melanogaster and more than 20 Drosophila species) and in humans (1000 Genomes Project) provide us a golden opportunity to study the evolutionary patterns and functional impacts of non-coding RNAs on transcriptomes and phenotypes at the intra- and inter-species levels. We are currently combining approaches of next-generation sequencing, computational, comparative and functional genomics with evolutionary theory and population genetics modeling. The goal of our research is to understand how non-coding RNA regulation confers robustness to biological processes and how genetic variations related to non-coding RNA regulation contribute to phenotypic changes and diseases at the systems level.

Specifically, we are conducting the following research projects: