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Liu, AiZhong
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Liu, AiZhong


Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering Group

PI: LIU Aizhong
, Professor
    Obtained his Ph.D. at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001, received postdoctoral training in Smithsonian Institute (Washington DC) and Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) from October, 2001 to October, 2006, and worked as a senior scientist at University of Georgia (Athens, GA) from November 2006 to December 2008. Dr. Liu was financially supported by “100 talent program” from Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2009. Dr. Liu joined Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2012 as a Group Leader of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering Group. Main researches at Liu Lab focus on molecular basis of storage lipid accumulation in developing seeds (or oleaginous yeasts) and epigenetics & evolution of seed development. He has published more than 40 research papers on leading scientific journals.



Research Interests 

1. Dissecting and characterizing the structures and functions of critical lipid genes from oleaginous seeds. Focused on dicotyledonous oilseed plants such as castor bean (Ricinous communis), jatropha (Jatropha curcas), Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) and soybean, isolation and characterization of critical lipid genes (or regulatory factors) which regulated oil content or fatty acid compositions in developing seeds were highlighted using gene cloning, high-throughput sequencing, real-time PCR, Western blot, yeast one-hybrid, yeast two-hybrid, and transgenic gene over-expression or silence techniques. These researches are to dissect the molecular basis of oil content and fatty acid composition within oilseeds, and identify potential germplasm and gene resources serving genetic improvement and engineering of oilseed crops in practice. 

2. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlain the formation of critical yield traits (such as seed size and oil content) in castor bean. Castor bean, a dicotyledonous model oilseed stored rich lipids and proteins in endosperm, is a unique biodiesel crop. There is an immediate need for genetic enhancement and breeding to improve yield serve as its application and cultivation in marginal lands in agriculture. Investigating the molecular basis of yield traits (such as seed size and seed oil content) is an essential prerequisite to develop castor bean as a biodiesel crop. Based on phenotypic variation of seed size and seed oil content among germplasms, genetic analyses were performed to uncover the genetic mechanisms controlling seed size and seed oil content, using QTL mapping, high-throughput sequencing, genomic SNP association and epigenetic regulation (in particular, imprinted genes). These researches could not only uncover the molecular basis of yield traits seed size and seed oil content serving the genetic improvement and breeding in castor bean, but also provide data to profile the evolution of seed size and seed oil content during the domestication. 

3. Establishing and improving the genetic engineering of using biomass and oleaginous yeast fermentation to produce microbial oils as feedstock for biodiesel production. Using lignocellulosic biomass and agricultural residues as raw materials by oleaginous yeasts Lipomyces starkeyi and Mortierella isabellina fermentation to produce microbial oils as feedstock for biodiesel production is performed. Combining genic modification of yeast strains and optimization of yeast culture conditions, genetic engineering of microbial oils production would be established. These researches would provide feedstock for biodiesel production and facilitate biodiesel industrialization in industry. 


    1.Umashankar Chandrasekaran, Aizhong Liu* (2014) Endogenous abscisic acid signaling towards storage reserve filling in developing seed tissues of castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). Plant Growth Regulation. 72: 203-207.
      2. Zhengwei Jin, Wei Xu and Aizhong Liu*. 2014. Genomic surveys and expression analysis of bZIP gene family in castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). Planta. 239: 299-312.

   3. Wei Xu, Li Fei, Lizheng Ling, Aizhong Liu*. (2013) Genome-wide survey and expression profiles of the AP2/ERF family in castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). BMC genomics, 14:785..

  4. Ronghua Xu, Tianquan Yang, Ruling Wang, Aizhong Liu* 2013. Characterization of DGAT1 and DGAT2 from Jatropha curcas and their nonredundant functions in storage lipid biosynthesis. Functional Plant Biology 41(3): 321-329. 2013  

  5. Umashankar Chandrasekaran, Aizhong Liu*. 2013. Seed filling and fatty acid changes in developing seeds of castor bean (Ricinus communisL.). Australian Jouranl of Crop Sciences. 7: 1761-1765.   

  6. Wei Xu, Qinghua Cui, Fei Li, Aizhong Liu*. 2013. Transcriptome-wide identification and characterization of MicroRNAs from castor bean (Ricinus communis L.). PLOS ONE, 8 (7): e69995.  

  7. Umashankar Chandrasekaran, Xiaojuan Wang and Aizhong Liu*. 2013. Characterization, Expression profiling and Heterologous function analysis of Two Oleosin Genes PvOle1 and PvOle2 from Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.). International Journal of Agriculture and Biology. 15(3): 435-442.  

  8. Wei Xu, Weirong Bai, Guangjun Wen, Huyin Huai*, Aizhong Liu*. 2013. Influences of Harvesting on Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Anemone altaica (Ranunculaceae), a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Herb. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 47: 121-125.  

  9. Xu Ronghua, Qiu Lijun, Yang Tianquan, Wang Ruling, Tian Bo, Liu Aizhong*. 2013. Cloning and functioning of phospholipids: diacylglycerol acyltransferase (JcPDAT1) cDNA from Jatropha curcas. Chinese Journal of Oil Crop Sciences. 35: 123-130. (in Chinese).  

  10. YANG Tian-Quan, XU Ronghua, Liu Aizhong*. 2013. Cloning and Characterization of Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase Gene (NtDGAT2) from Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.). Plant Physiology Journal, 49 (1): 81~88.  

  11. Xiaojuan Wang, Ronghua Xu, Ruling Wang, Aizhong Liu* 2012. Transcriptome analysis of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) seeds at two developmental stages. BMC genomics, 13: 716  

  12. Xu Wei, Sujatha Mulpuri, Aizhong Liu*. 2012. Genetic diversity in the Jatropha genus and its potential application. CAB Reviews. 7: 059.  

  13. Wenzhu Fu,Weirong Bai, Huyin Huai, Aizhong Liu* 2012. Seasonal Changes in Soluble SugarContents in Different Parts of Alternanthera philoxeroides from Aquatic and Terrestrial Habitats. Nature Environment and Pollution Technology. 11: 357-360  

  14. Wei Xu, Qing Yang, Huyin Huai and Aizhong Liu* 2012. Development of EST-SSR markers and investigation of genetic relatedness in Tung tree. Tree genetics and genomes, 8: 933-940.  

  15. Tian Bo, Han-Qi Yang, Khoon-Meng Wong, Aizhong Liu, Zhen-Yuan Ruan. 2012. ISSR analysis shows low genetic diversity versus high genetic differentiation for giant bamboo, Dendrocalamus giganteus (Poaceae: Bambusoideae), in China populations. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 59: 901-908.  

  16. Wei Xu, Qing Yang, Huyin Huai and Aizhong Liu* 2011. Microsatellite makers development in Tung trees (Vernicia montana and V. fordii, Euphorbiaceae). American Journal of Botany, 98: e226-228  

  17. Ronghua Xu, Ruling Wang and Aizhong Liu* 2011. Expression Profiles of Genes Involved in Fatty Acid and Triacylglycerol Synthesis in Developing Seeds of Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.). Biomass and Bioenergy35: 1683-1692  

  18. Yang Chun and Aizhong Liu* 2011. Development of EST-SSR markers from Jatropha curcas (Jatropha curcas and their application in genetic diversity analysis among germplasms. Plant Diversity and Resources, 33: 529-534.  

  19. Zhang Nan, Ronghua Xu, Xiaozhu Liu and Aizhong Liu*. 2011. Cloning and Sequence Analysis of sn-Glycerol-3-phosphate Acyltransferase Gene (JcGPAT) from Jatropha curcas L. Plant Physiology Journal. 47: (2) 181-188.  

  20. Qiu, lijun, Chun Yang, Bo Tan, Junbo Yang and Aizhong Liu*. 2010. Exploiting EST databases for the development and characterization of EST-SSR markers in castor (Ricinus communis L.).BMC Plant Biology 10: 278  

  21. Huai, Huyin, Qinqin Dong and Aizhong Liu*. 2010. Ethnomedicinal Analysis of Toxic Plants from Five Ethnic Groups in China. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 8: 169-179.  

  22. Sheng-Xi Liao, Xian-Jie Mi, Aizhong Liu, Kun Li, Zhen-Yin Yang and Bo Tian.2010. Isolation and Characterization of Polymorphic Microsatellite Markers in Calocedrus macrolepis Kurz (Cupressaceae). Hortscience , 45: 169-171  

  23. Liu, Aizhong*, W. John Kress, and Li De-Zhu. 2010. Phylogenetic analyses for the banana family (Musaceae) based on nuclear Ribosomal (ITS) and Chloroplast (trnL-F) evidence. Taxon 59 (1): 132-140.  

  24. Liu, Aizhong, Nicklas Samils, Brian Higgins, Jan Stenlid, Bernard Slippers, C. Joseph Narin, and Sarah F. Covert. 2009. Development of nine microsatellite markers for Phlebiopsis gigantea. Conservation Genetics. 10: 1529-1532.  

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

  26. Wills, David M., Hester, L. Melissa, Aizhong 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.  

  27. Kress, W. John, Aizhong 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.  

  28. Funakoshi Hidenobu, W. John Kress, Jana Skornickova, Aizhong 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. Acta Phytotaxonomy and Geobotany. 56(1): 41-53.  

  29. Liu, Aizhong, 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.  

  30. Liu, Aizhong, 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.  

  31. Liu, Aizhong, 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.  

  32. Liu, Aizhong, Li De-Zhu, and Li Xi-Wen. 2002. Taxonomic notes for wild bananas (Musa) from China. Botanical Studies. 43: 77-81.  

  33. Liu, Aizhong, Li De-Zhu, Wang Hong. 2001. Pollination Ecology of a Pioneer Species: Musa itinerans (Musaceae) in Xishuangbanna, S Yunnan, China. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology. 43: 319-322.  

  34. Liu, Aizhong, Pei Sheng-Ji, and Chen San-Yang. 1999. Plant Worship of the Yi People in Chuxiong of Yunnan, China. Ethnobotany 11 (1) 1-8.  

  35. Liu, Aizhong. 2003. Musacecae. In: W. John Kress et al. (eds), Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, and Climbers of Myanmar. Washington DC: Smithsonian Press. P. 63-65.  

  36. Liu, Aizhong 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.  

  37. Liu, Aizhong, De-Zhu Li 2001. The Identity of Musa wilsonii in Chinese Botanical Literature. Acta Botanica Yunnanica, 23: 77-81.   

  38. Liu, Aizhong, Sanyang Chen, Shengji Pei. 2000. Yi nationality's sacred groves and biodiversity conservation in Chuxiong,Yunnan. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 11(4): 489-492. (in Chinese)  

  39. Liu, Aizhong, Sanyang Chen, Shengji Pei. 2000. An investigation and study on the plant worship by Yi people in Chuxiong, Yunnan. Chinese Biodiversity 8(1): 130-136. (in Chinese)  

  40. Liu, Aizhong, Chun-lin Long. 1999. Advance in ethnobotanical researches. Advance in Plant Sciences 2: 213-219. (in Chinese)  


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