CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS
- Epigenetics and gene regulation
- Plant defense against pathogens
- Polyploidy and hybrid vigor
- Crop biotechnology
Polyploidy is a common phenomenon in plants and has been widely used in agriculture as a breeding approach. It can be used to overcome the problems of hybrid sterility and inbreeding depression in diploid hybrids. Our research goal is to understand what happens when genomes have diverged or hybridized. Specifically, we are interested in how transcriptional reprogramming in hybrids is achieved. We hypothesize that homoeologous genome interactions in the hybrids create an extra capacity for potential improvement of regulatory signaling pathways, contributing to heterosis in hybrids. To this end, we focus on one important plant-specific transcription factor family, WRKYs, that is involved in plant defense and diverse aspects of plant development. Many of these transcription factors can form homo- or heterodimers or interact with other proteins. They also have a well-defined DNA binding domain (WRKY domain) that binds to the W-box of target promoters. Therefore, these properties make them an excellent group of genes for understanding transcriptional reprogramming in hybrids. To achieve our goal, we use an established Arabidopsis polyploid system with two closely related autotetraploid parents, Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis arenosa, and their interspecific tetraploid hybrid (allotetraploid) to which its genome composition is comparable to the naturally occurring Arabidopsis suecicia. This system offers a permanent fixation of heterozygosity in the hybrids, hence providing a valuable resource to study genome interaction in hybrids. Insights gained will have significant implications in molecular breeding in agriculture.
- Areas of Excellence Scheme Project (2017-2025). Center for genomic studies on plant-environment interaction for sustainable agriculture and food security – coordinated by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. (Co-Principal Investigator)
- Faculty Research Grant, HKBU (2017-2018). Characterization of the parent-of-origin effect in transgenerational defense priming in two Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes. HK$135,000 (Principal Investigator)
- State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology project (2016-2019). Elucidate the trans-interactions and epigenetic contributions in mediating improved biotic stress responses in Arabidopsis polyploid hybrids. (SKL member)
- General Research Fund, UGC (2015-2017). Regulation and functional role of Arabidopsis miR163 and its targets in plant defense. HK$565,370 (Principal Investigator)
- State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology project (2014-2016). Identification of key components in epigenetic control of the defense pathway in plants. (SKL member)
- Early Career Scheme, UGC (2014-2015). Mechanism of WRKY factors-mediated defense and heterosis in Arabidopsis polyploids. HK$617,353 (Principal Investigator)
- Faculty Research Grant, HKBU (2013-2015). Study the role of Arabidopsis thaliana miR163 and its targets in plant defense. HK$150,000 (Principal Investigator)
- How hybrids balance growth and defense? Insights from Arabidopsis polyploids studies, 2017, College of Agriculture, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, China.
- How hybrids balance growth and defense? Insights from Arabidopsis polyploids studies, 2017, State Key Laboratory of Hybrid Rice, Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, Changsha, China.
- Homoeologous factor interactions for alleles regulation in Arabidopsis polyploids, Dec 14-15, 2015. Mini-symposium on Integrated Studies on Soybean, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
- Homoeologous alleles regulations and their contributions in Arabidopsis allotetraploid development, Jul 5-9, 2015, The 26th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, Paris, France.
- Genome hybridization and interaction in Arabidopsis polyploids, Dec 17, 2014, SKL of Agrobiotechnology Conference 2014, Beijing, China.
- Molecular bases of enhanced biotic stress responses in Arabidopsis hybrids, Aug 24-26, 2014, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.
- Molecular bases of enhanced biotic stress responses in Arabidopsis hybrids, Aug 19-22, 2014, Plant Genomics in China XV, Hefei, Anhui, China.
- Genome-wide and specific effects of cis- and trans- regulation on phenotypic diversity in Arabidopsis allopolyploids and their progenitors, Jan 12-16, 2013, Plant and Animal Genome XXI Conference, San Diego, California, United States.
- Chow, H.T., and Ng, D.W.# (2017). Regulation of miR163 and its targets in defense against Pseudomonas syringae in Arabidopsis thaliana. Sci. Rep. 7, 46433. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W.#, Chen, H.H.Y.*, and Chen, Z.J. (2017). Heterologous protein-DNA interactions lead to biased allelic expression of circadian clock genes in interspecific hybrids. Sci. Rep. 7, 45087. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Miller, M.*, Yu, H.H.*, Huang, T.Y., Kim, E.D., Lu, J., Xie, Q., McClung, C.R., and Chen, Z.J. (2014). A role of CHH methylation in the parent-of-origin effect on altered circadian rhythms and growth vigor in plant hybrids. Plant Cell 26, 2430-2440. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Shi, X., Nah, G., and Chen, Z.J. (2014). High-throughput RNA-seq for allelic or locus-specific expression analysis in Arabidopsis-related species, hybrids, and allotetraploids. Methods Mol. Biol. 1112, 33-48.[Pubmed]
- Shi, X., Ng, D.W.*, Zhang, C., Comai, L., Ye, W., and Chen, Z.J. (2012). Cis– and trans-regulatory divergence between progenitor species determines gene-expression novelty in Arabidopsis allopolyploids. Nat. Commun. 3, 950. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Lu, J.*, and Chen, Z.J. (2012). Big roles for small RNAs in polyploidy, hybrid vigor and hybrid incompatibility. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 15, 1-8.[Pubmed]
- Zhang, C., Ng, D.W., Lu, J., and Chen, Z.J. (2012). Roles of target site location and sequence complementarity in trans-acting siRNA formation in Arabidopsis. Plant J 69, 217-226. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Zhang, C., Miller, M., Shen, Z., Briggs, S.P., and Chen, Z.J. (2011). Proteomic divergence in Arabidopsis autopolyploids and allopolyploids and their progenitors. Heredity 108, 419-430.[Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Zhang, C., Miller, M., Palmer, G., Whiteley, M., Tholl, D., and Chen, Z.J. (2011). Cis- and trans-Regulation of miR163 and target genes confers natural variation of secondary metabolites in two Arabidopsis species and their allopolyploids. Plant Cell 23, 1729-1740.[Pubmed]
- Ha, M., Ng, D.W., Li, W.H., and Chen, Z.J. (2011). Coordinated histone modifications are associated with gene expression variation within and between species. Genome Res 21, 590-598.[Pubmed]
- Lau, O.S., Ng, D.W., Chan, W.W., Chang, S.P., and Sun, S.S. (2010). Production of the 42-kDa fragment of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1, a leading malaria vaccine antigen, in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. Plant Biotechnol. J.8, 994-1004.[Pubmed]
- Lackey, E., Ng, D.W.*, and Chen, Z.J. (2010). RNAi-mediated down-regulation of DCL1 and AGO1 induces developmental changes in resynthesized Arabidopsis allotetraploids. New Phytol 186, 207-215. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., and Hall, T.C. (2008). PvALF and FUS3 activate expression from the phaseolin promoter by different mechanisms. Plant molecular biology 66, 233-244.[Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Wang, T., Chandrasekharan, M.B., Aramayo, R., Kertbundit, S., and Hall, T.C. (2007). Plant SET domain-containing proteins: structure, function and regulation. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1769, 316-329. [Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Chandrasekharan, M.B., and Hall, T.C. (2006). Ordered histone modifications are associated with transcriptional poising and activation of the phaseolin promoter. The Plant cell 18, 119-132.[Pubmed]
- Ng, D.W., Chandrasekharan, M.B., and Hall, T.C. (2004). The 5′ UTR negatively regulates quantitative and spatial expression from the ABI3 promoter. Plant molecular biology 54, 25-38.[Pubmed]
* Equal contribution as the first author
Research Assistant (Plant Molecular Biology)
We are seeking a research assistant to conduct research in plant molecular biology and genetics, particularly focusing on plant stress biology. He/ She should be able to work independently. He/She is responsible for keeping good laboratory records, daily plant materials maintenance and presenting research findings. Applicants should possess a Bachelor’s degree or above in Biology, Molecular Biology or related disciplines. Good command of written and spoken English and Chinese is essential. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Initial appointment will be made on a fixed-term contract of one year and is expected to commence duty as soon as possible. Reappointment thereafter is subject to mutual agreement and availability of funding. Interested candidates should contact Dr. Danny Ng via email firstname.lastname@example.org.