Tan Kah Kee Young Scientist Award

 
Life Sciences
Kejian Wang was born in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province in December 1983. Now he is a professor and doctoral supervisor at China National Rice Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He is also the vice director of State Key Laboratory of Rice Biology and the chief scientist of the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Kejian Wang received his Bachelor Degree in Agronomy from Yangzhou University in 2004, and Ph.D in Genetics from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2009. Then he worked as a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2013, he joined China National Rice Research Institute as a Principal Investigator. His lab mainly focuses on research and development on sexual reproduction and genome editing. As the first or corresponding author, he has published more than 20 papers on Nature Biotechnology, Molecular Plant and so on. Now he is the 11th council member of Crop Science Society of China, and the member of Genome Editing branch of Genetics Society of China. He is also the editorial board member of BMC Plant Biology, aBIOTECH and Acta Agronomica Sinica. He has been supported by the talent programs including the Outstanding Young Agricultural Scientist, and Young Talents of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

 
Establishment of Apomixis System in Hybrid Rice using Genome Editing
 
Apomixis is an asexual reproduction process that produces clonal seeds. Because its revolutionary potential in permanently fixing heterosis, the introduction of apomixis into major crops has long been considered as the holy grail of agriculture. However, despite of decades of research, extensive efforts to transfer the apomixis traits into major crops remain unsuccessful. On the basis of elucidation of the molecular mechanism of sexual reproductive and development of the multiplex gene editing system, Kejian Wang and his group successfully established synthetic apomixis and obtained clonal hybrid seeds by simultaneously editing four endogenous genes in hybrid rice. The work opens up the research field of fixing heterosis using synthetic apomixis and a new direction of crop breeding. The work also lays a foundation for the development of self-reproducing hybrid seed systems in the future. Nature Biotechnology commented that the technology to clone seeds could slash crop prices and boost food security.
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