Feng Chen, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Science in the field of plant functional genomics, is coauthor with his research associate Guanglin Li of an important paper describing the genome sequence of Amborella, published in the December 20, 2013 issue of Science. Regarded as a living fossil, Amborella is strongly supported as the most primitive flowering plant on earth. Characterizing its genome sequence is a critical step towards the understanding of the appearance of flowering plants, a phenomenon Darwin called the “abominable mystery.” In their article, Chen and Li contributed to the analysis of the terpene synthase gene family and its potential role in flowering plant evolution. This paper extends the strong publication record of the Chen lab in the field of terpene biosynthesis. In 2012, one of the Chen’s significant publications on terpene biology appeared in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In addition to these accomplishments in basic research on terpene biosynthesis, Chen and his coworkers are also making important progress on translational research of terpene biology for the goals of high level production of valuable terpenes to be used as biofuels, fragrances, biopesticides and pharmaceutical agents.