Recognizing Plant Physiology first authors: Niankui Li

Niankui Li, co-first author of A sequence-indexed Mutator insertional library for maize functional genomics study

Current Position: Ph.D. Student. Molecular & Environmental Plant Sciences, Texas A&M University, USA

Education: Master of Agronomy, College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, 2016-2018; Bachelor of Agronomy, College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, 2012-2016

Non-scientific Interests: football, computer games, and music

Brief bio: During my undergraduate study, a mysterious and wonderful genetics class made me deeply in love with molecular genetics. In the summer of 2016, I was fortunate to join Dr. Rentao Song’s lab for maize molecular genetics research. Typically, cloning a maize gene requires a large F2 population because of the huge size of maize genome. In order to solve this problem, I tried to optimize the Mutator(Mu)-Illumina sequencing technology. After eight months of trial and error, I successfully found the optimal conditions and parameters. For one thing, we used this technique to clone a large number of maize defective kernel mutants in a short time. For another thing, we attempted to construct a genome-wide maize Mutator insertional database using optimized Mu-Illumina sequencing technology. Finally, 2,581 maize libraries were sequenced and analyzed, and a high quality and coverage Mutator insertional library, named ChinaMu was successfully constructed. I am very honored to undertake such an important project in the first year of my graduate study. I also sincerely appreciate Dr. Song for his unreserved guidance and help. My current research interest is using forward genetics to identify new gene(s) involved in Arabidopsis miRNA pathway. Hopefully, I can identify and clone new miRNA target gene(s) relevant to maize development in the future.