TAN KAH KEE Science Award

 
Life Sciences


Molecular bases of rice plant architecture and grain quality

Abstract:Rice is the most important staple crop in China and plays an important role in national food security. Grain yield and quality are complex agronomic traits regulated and coordinated by multiple genes, and therefore it is a great challenge to elucidate the regulatory network and further improve yield and quality in rice. Dr. Li and his team have characterized key genes regulating rice plant architecture, which is crucial for grain yield and determined mainly by tiller number, plant height, tiller angle, panicle size and grain number, cloned Ideal Plant Architecture 1 (IPA1), a key regulator that defines rice plant architecture, elucidated the molecular basis of rice ideal plant architecture, and improved rice grain yield through applying its and other beneficial alleles. Dr. Li and his team also pioneered in developing association analysis in rice to reveal the genetic network regulating rice eating and cooking quality, and elucidated the molecular mechanisms of resistance starch biosynthesis and storage stability of rice grains. Furthermore, Dr. Li and his team also dedicate to translate the knowledge from basic research to applied technology and then to agricultural production by developing and breeding high-yield superior-quality rice through rational design.

Awardee:Jiayang Li was awarded Bachelor Degree of Agronomy from Anhui Agricultural College (now Anhui Agricultural University) in 1982, Master Degree from the Institute of Genetics (now Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology), Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1984, and Ph.D. from the University of Brandeis in 1991. He then carried out a postdoctoral research in Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University, and was recruited as a professor of plant molecular genetics by the Institute of Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1994. Professor Li was elected as a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001, a Fellow of TWAS in 2004, a Foreign Associate of the American National Academy of Sciences in 2011, a Member of the German Academy of Sciences in 2012, a Foreign Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization in 2013, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2015.

Dr. Li has made seminal achievements in understanding plant architecture, hormonal signal transduction, and biosynthetic pathways of plant hormones, rice grain starch, cell walls, fatty acids, and other important compounds. These original findings have resulted in more than 130 publications in top scientific journals including Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, Nature Plants, Cell Research, PNAS, Plant Cell, Molecular Plant, Science China, and Chinese Science Bulletin, with more than 11,000 SCI citations, and some have been awarded as China’s Top Ten Scientific Advances and/or China’s Top Ten Scientific and Technology News Events in 2003, 2010 and 2014. Dr. Li was awarded prizes including the National Natural Science Award (First Class) in 2017, the National Natural Science Award (Second Class) in 2005, Corresponding Membership Award of the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2011, Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013, Prize of Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation for Scientific and Technological Progress (Life Science) in 2004, Cheung Kong Achievement Award in 2005, and the Qiu Shi Outstanding Scientific Research Team Award in 2017.

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