The group develops unconventional model systems to reveal hitherto unrecognized aspects of cellular organization. We are especially interested in adaptive cellular traits based on high-order protein assemblies and organelles. The group fuels discovery with biochemical purification, mass spectrometry and comparative genomics. Many of the proteins we study are restricted to a group of related species. However, upon investigation they are frequently found to function through connections with ancient and conserved components of the cell. Thus, our work is predisposed to revealing fundamental principles of cellular organization, while also uncovering new protein activities. Approaching cell biology through the lens of evolution further creates opportunities to identify new problems or approach long-standing problems from new directions.
See the research slide show to learn more about current and past projects.
4-8-21: Increasing food production efficiency is key to feeding a growing world population without increasing agricultural land. The lab has successfully developed methods to convert food production waste into a new source of high-quality fungal single cell protein. The image shows our delicious prototype fungal/plant meat alternative.
12-4-21: Diatoms are microalgea responsible for over 20% of there earths annual carbon fixation. However, some have lost photosynthesis and rely exclusively on obtaining carbon from the environment. What role do these organisms play in carbon cycling and what evolutionary innovations accompanied this transition? We have been isolating these "apochlorotic" diatoms from Singapore's coastal region and developing them as models to study these and other questions.
Movie: Gliding motility in an apochlorotic diatom (the cells are around 30 microns long).
8-1-21: The lab's work on Biomolecular Condensates is featured in Quanta Magazine
12-11-20: Our paper on protoplasmic
gelation is out! The paper is available
here. Thanks to awesome collaborating
Image: Mycelium of Mucor at the
colonies leading edge
9-11-20: Greg's 2020 Karling lecture on "Fungal Mycelia as Complex Microfluidic Systems" can be watched here.
22-10-20: Congratulations to Ahn on Succesfully defending her PhD thesis! "Gellin proteins: flow-induced cytoplasmic clotting in wounded fungal hyphae"
How do unpartitioned hyphal networks avoid
"bleeding out" when injured? These "primitive
fungi" evolved a sophisticated solution.
Our discovery of instantaneous protoplasmic
gelation will soon be published in Current
Movie: Bidirectional protoplasmic
streaming in Phycomyces. Thanks to Jay
Newby for the particle tracking.
26-7-20: We have an open PhD student position to work on the fundamental and mysterious nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio! Please send your CV to Greg (email@example.com) if you have a bachelors degree in biology or a related field and have a strong desire to pursue fundamental discovery-directed research.
15-7-20: Greg will be delivering the Karling Lecture on "Fungal Mycelia as Complex Microfluidic Systems" to the 2020 virtual meeting of the Mycologial Society of America on July 22nd. Join the MSA and support Mycology!
4-6-20: Evolution and assembly of the fungal Spitzenkörper. Congratulations to Peng! on the publication of her paper: "Spitzenkörper assembly mechanisms reveal conserved features of fungal and metazoan polarity scaffolds" in Nature Communications. Thanks to Daiwen Yang of the NUS for an excellent collaboration to determine the NMR structure of the Spa Homology Domain (SHD). Click here for the paper.
Image: The Neurospora crassa SHD structure reveals
effector binding through a conserved surface groove
(marked with asterisk). This is just one aspect of the
cell polarity scaffolding that appears to predate the
evolutionary divergence of animals and fungi.
1-24-2020: Mixed charge domains (MCDs) play a fundamental role in the regulation of nuclear speckle material properties and function. Congratulations to Jamie on his paper: "Arginine-enriched mixed charge domains provide cohesion for nuclear speckle condensation", published in Molecular Cell. Click here for the paper at BioRxiv.
From Figure 1: Pure Arginine-Aspartic acid (RD) repeat
sequences specify nuclear speckle localisation (marked by
SRSF1). At 60 repeats, RDs begin to self-associate to form
aberrant nuclear bodies (seen as green rods in the Merge
1-5-2018: Our grant to develop new fermentation technologies to reduce food waste using multicellular fungi was funded today. Thanks to Temasek Foundation Ecosperity for believing in our vision!
24-4-2018: Our paper on the
evolution of fungal gravity sensing
crystals through horizontal gene
transfer (HGT) from bacteria published
today in PLoS Biology. Click here
for the paper.
Image: A forest of Phycomyces
8-2-2017: Anh's paper published! "Innovation and constraint leading to complex multicellularity in the Ascomycota". Thanks to our collaborators; Jason Stajich, Ousmane Cisse, David Hewitt, and Minou Nowrousian.
13-1-2017: Congratulations to Jing Yang on successfully defending her PhD thesis! "Synthetic import substrates reveal crosstalk between peroxisome matrix and membrane protein import machineries"