Molecular evolution in plants
In the past years, our key interest is the adaptive evolution of plants. Under the principles of biogeography and population genetics, we studied the molecular evolution of plants during the processes such as adaptation into extreme habitats, i.e. mangrove species; domestication, i.e. rice; and invasion, i.e. Mikania micrantha. Our comprehensive investigations into the global patterns of genetic diversity in mangrove species are integrated to develop a new theory of speciation, the Mixing-Isolation-Mixing (MIM) model. We also developed statistical methods to detect natural selection and convergent evolution.
Understanding speciation in the 'OMICS' era
Speciation is always an intriguing topic in the field of evolutionary biology. The genic view of speciation (Wu, 2001) provides a new prospective to understand the genomic dynamics during speciation. The characteristic of linear distribution along coasts makes mangrove species ideal models to study speciation. How does a genome initiate the differentiation? How does gene flow contribute to speciation? When and how does two closely related taxa complete the speciation process? Questions are more than answers!
The establishment of fundamental data resource for mangrove studies
The third part of our work is to build the 'big data' base for mangroves. We started the so-called '100M' project, which aims at sequencing the genomes of about 100 species, including about 70 true mangrove and 30 semi-mangrove species. We are also working on the DNA barcoding of all the life in mangrove ecosystems, including plants, benthic animals and insects.

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