Our research focuses on identifying and manipulating molecular and biochemical bottlenecks that control source-to-sink allocation of, and sink-to-sink competition for, carbon (C) assimilates mainly in the form of sucrose as the key nutrient and energy resource in plants for improving fruit, seed and fibre production and resilience to abiotic and biotic stresses in horticultural plants (tomato and apple) and field crops including cotton, wheat, maize and legumes.
- To elucidate how sugar metabolism, transport & signalling regulate plant development & their defence against heat stress & pathogen or pest attack;
- To identify regulatory genes controlling C nutrient distribution and
- To dissect molecular networks underpinning resource partitioning during evolution & domestication.
- Identified biological steps limiting C nutrient input into sink organs & established a “Ready-Set- Grow” model for seed & fruit set;
- Discovered critical roles of sugar metabolic enzymes, interacting proteins, transporters & plasmodesmata in growth, yield formation & heat response and
- Provided evolutionary & functional insights into sugar signalling across the space of cell wall, cytosol & vacuole.
The exciting findings from our research have been published in top journals such as Plant Cell, Nature Plants, Molecular Plant, Plant Physiology, Plant Journal, New Phytologist, JBC, JXB, PNAS & Nature Genetics. The quality and impact of our work is reflected by, for example, having written invited articles for Annual Review of Plant Biology (Ruan 2014) and Trends in Plant Science (Ruan et al 2012; Chen et al 2017; Wan et al 2018).
Our endeavour is facilitated by extensive collaborations across Asia, Europe and North America and funded by top government and industry bodies including ARC, GRDC, CRDC and Bayer for fundamental and translational research. Current projects include:
- Sustaining plant reproductive success under heat stress- A sweet approach (ARC DP).
- Improving heat tolerance for grain set and filling (GRDC).