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.
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.