Our research focuses on the plant hormone auxin, which regulates almost every aspect of plant growth and development. My laboratory mainly works on two areas of auxin biology: 1) auxin biosynthesis and its regulation, 2) the roles of auxin in axillary meristem development and plant organogenesis. We have elucidated the main auxin biosynthesis pathway in Arabidopsis and identified YUC flavin monooxygenases as key enzymes for auxin biosynthesis. We currently investigate the allosteric regulation of YUC enzymes and characterize the transcription factors that control the expression of YUC genes. We conducted a genetic screen for enhancers / suppressors of yuc mutants and uncovered a novel signaling pathway that is essential for the formation of lateral organs in Arabidopsis. We are continuing to clone and characterize additional yuc enhancers / suppressors to establish a genetic framework for plant organogenesis. We are also developing tools to spatially and temporally control auxin production.
Zhao Y. (2012). Auxin biosynthesis: a simple two-step pathway converts tryptophan to indole-3-acetic acid in plants. Mol Plant 5(2):334-348.
Won C., Shen, X., Mashiguchi K., Zheng Z, Dai D., Cheng Y., Kasahara H., Yuji Kamiya Y., Chory J, and Zhao Y. (2011). Conversion of Tryptophan to Indole-3-acetic acid by TAAs and YUCs in Arabidopsis. PNAS 108(45):18518-18523.
Hou X., Liu S, Pierri F, Dai X., Qu L., and Zhao Y. (2011). Allelic analyses of the Arabidopsis YUC1 locus reveal residues and domains essential for the functions of YUC family of flavin monooxygenases. J Integrative Plant Biol 53 (1):54-62.
Li Y., Dai X., Cheng Y., and Zhao Y. (2010). NPY genes play an essential role in root gravitropic responses in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant 4:171-179.
Zhao Y. (2010). Auxin biosynthesis and its role in plant development. Annu Rev Plant Biol 61:49-64.
Sugawara S., Hishiyama S., Jikumaru Y., Hanada A., Nishimura T., Koshiba T., Zhao Y., Kamiya Y., Kasahara H. (2009). Biochemical analyses of indole-3-acetaldoxime-dependent auxin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. PNAS 106(13):5430-5435.
Cheng Y., Qin G., Dai X., and Zhao Y. (2008). NPY genes and AGC kinases define two key steps in auxin-mediated organogenesis in Arabidopsis. PNAS 106 (52):21039–21044.
McSteen P. and Zhao Y. (2008). Plant hormones and signaling: common themes and new developments. Dev Cell 14(4):467-473.
Cheng Y., Qin G., Dai X., and Zhao Y. (2007). A role for a BTB-NPH3-like protein in auxin-regulated organogenesis in Arabidopsis. PNAS 104:18825-18829.
Yunde Zhao received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Michigan and his postdoctoral training in plant genetics at the Salk Institute, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation.