Often considered as the genomic ‘junkyard’, the non-genic regions of the genome are actually rich sources of many regulatory elements. These include transposable elements which are ubiquitous DNA fragments that can move within and across genomes, thereby causing structural variations. Small RNAs (20-24 nt) are another important class of non-genic regulatory elements that interfere with gene expression and defend the genome against parasitic invaders. Despite the regulatory potential of transposons and small RNAs, these are often poorly annotated in the genome which greatly hinders understanding their biological roles. Across my research career, my central biological questions focus on the evolution, diversity, and regulation of non-genic elements and their role in genome defense and adaptation to environmental cues. I use both bioinformatics and wet-lab approaches in my research. Below are some of my current research projects.

How do plants recognize transposable elements and initiate their silencing?

RdDM

Role of epigenetics in Soybean aphid virulence to aphid-resistant plants

Aphid