I graduated from Xiamen University, China in 2008 with the B.Sc in Biological Sciences. In the same year I started my master study at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, following the sub-track Integrative Plant Sciences of Biological Sciences.

The second internship project of my master program was done at the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences, Sweden. After having received my M.Sc degree in Biological Sciences from Amsterdam in 2010, I became enrolled as a PhD student at the IGSDHD program in Cologne.

My three rotation projects were done in the following groups:

  • George Coupland, “Phenotypic and molecular characterization of mutants affected in the FT flowering pathway”
  • Marcel Bucher, “Role of lyso-phospholipids in Arabidopsis thaliana and Lotus japonicas”
  • Ute Höcker, “Functional study of the ubiquitin ligase COP1/SPA, a light signaling component in Arabidopsis”

Since April 2011, I have been working on my PhD project “Functional divergence of SPA1 and SPA2 in light-induced SPA degradation and COP1/SPA inactivation” in the group of Ute Höcker.

Project description

The COP1/SPA E3 ubiquitin ligase is a general repressor of photomorphogenesis in the dark. The four SPA family members, SPA1-4, have been shown to have partially overlapping but distinct functions in response to light. SPA1 is a key player of repressing photomorphogenesis, while SPA2 only functions in the dark. SPA2, on one hand, is not as stable as SPA1 in the light. On the other hand, the COP1/SPA2 complex also loses its biological function in the light via unknown mechanisms. This functional divergence of SPA1 and SPA2 has been shown to depend on the differences between their protein sequences. By phenotypical studies of the transgenic seedlings expressing chimeric constructs, I will try to answer the question that which domain is responsible for the diverged function of SPA1 and SPA2. I will also attempt to reveal the molecular basis underlying this divergence.