Identification of gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) & functional characterization of transcription factors (TFs) involved in the activation of plant innate immunity.

Plant responses to biotic threats under a changing environment demand precise cellular regulations. Due to the high redundancy of the genetic components in the plant genome, it is difficult to predict the exact immune outcomes (e.g., resistance or susceptibility) of a certain input with many other perturbations. Furthermore, it is challenging to look at one specific process without understanding the whole picture of the system. Thus, identifying gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) becomes robust to understand how plants respond to the environment because it collects the information of how molecular regulators (such as transcription factors or TFs, and their target genes) interact with each other and other substances (e.g., hormones).

Currently, the Ding Lab aims to identify the dynamics and hierarchies of TFs and their target genes during the activation of intracellular immune receptors (NLRs) with cutting-edge multi-omics approaches. We will also validate and characterize the functions of TFs identified from such GRN studies. Ultimately, we aim at applying the knowledge we obtained in such studies for guiding plant breeding for disease resistance.