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Tennessee Plant Research Center    

Feng Chen, PhD

Department of Plant Sciences

Phone : (865)974 8521

Research in the Chen lab is centered around functional genomics of plant metabolism. Collectively plants produce a huge diversity of metabolites that are known as secondary metabolites or natural products. These metabolites play important roles in plant biology and ecology. They may be involved in plant defenses against insects and pathogens, attracting pollinators, or providing resistance to abiotic stresses. In addition, plant secondary metabolites are important for human health, where their application may range from medicines to functional food. Despite its importance, plant secondary metabolism in general remains poorly characterized. The research program in the Chen lab focuses on using an integrated genomics approach, which combines bioinformatic analysis, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and large-scale in vitro biochemical assays, to systematically discover novel genes of plant secondary metabolism. Furthermore, we are interested in using metabolic engineering to alter the production of certain secondary metabolites for crop improvement, such as to enhance plant natural defenses and improve the quality of fruits, flowers and biofuel feedstocks.

Recent Publications

Chen, F., Al-Ahmad, H., Joyce, B., Zhao, N.,  Köllner, T.G., Degenhardt, J., Stewart, C.N. (2009). Within-plant distribution of sesquiterpenes from Copaifera officinalis at two early developmental stages and their emission. Plant Physiol. Biochem. 47: 1017-1023

Chen, F., Liu, C-J., Tschaplinski, T.J., and Zhao, N. (2009) Genomics of secondary metabolism in Populus: Interactions with biotic and abiotic environments. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 28: 375-392

Zhao, N., Boyle, B., Duval, I., Ferrer, J., Lin, H., Seguin, A., Mackay, J. and Chen, F. (2009). SABATH methyltransferases from white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench] Voss): Gene cloning, functional characterization and structural analysis. Tree Physiol. 29: 947-957

Navia-Gine, W., Gomez, S.K., Yuan, J.S., Chen, F. and Korth, K.L (2009). Insect-induced gene expression at the core of volatile terpene release in Medicago truncatula. Plant Sign. Beha. 4: 636-638

Yuan, J.S., Himanen, S.J., Holopainen, J.K., Chen, F. and Stewart, C.N. (2009). Smelling global climate change: mitigation of function for plant volatile organic compounds. Trends Ecol Evol. 24: 323-331

Navia-Gine W., Yuan J.S., Mauromoustakos, A., Murphy, J.B., Chen F. and Korth K.L. (2009) Regulation of an insect-induced E-(beta)-ocimene synthase and other terpene synthases of Medicago truncatula. Plant Physiol. Biochem. 47: 416–425

Zhao, N., Guan, J., Forouhar, F., Tschaplinski, T.J., Cheng, C-M., Tong L., and Chen, F. (2009) Two poplar methyl salicylate esterases display comparable biochemical properties but divergent expression patterns. Phytochemistry 70: 37-44

Yuan, J.S., Köllner, T.G., Wiggins, G., Grant, J., Zhao, N., Zhuang, X., Degenhardt, J., and Chen, F. (2008) Elucidation of the genomic basis of indirect plant defense against insects. Plant Sign. Beha 3: 720-721

Yuan, J.S., Köllner, T.G., Wiggins, G., Grant, J., Degenhardt, J., and Chen, F. (2008) Molecular and genomic basis of volatile-mediated indirect defense against insects in rice. Plant J. 55: 491-503

Zhuang, X-F., Klingeman, W.E., Chen, F. (2008) Emission of floral volatiles from Dogwood flowers. J. Agri. Food Chem. 56: 9570-9574

Zhao, N., Ferrer, J-L., Ross, J., Guan, J., Yang, Y., Pichersky, E., Noel, J.P., and Chen, F. (2008) Structural, biochemical and phylogenetic analyses suggest that indole-3-acetic acid methyltransferase is an evolutionarily ancient member of the SABATH family. Plant Physiol. 146: 455-467



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