Yann-Ru Lou

Yann Ru Lou headshot

Position Title
Assistant Professor

  • Plant Biology
2224 Green Hall

Research Interests

As a plant biochemist, I am fascinated by the evolutionary history of diverse specialized metabolites that are produced by plants to interact with their biotic environment. As many specialized metabolites are taxonomically-restricted, they provide a great system to explore the enzymes and biosynthetic pathways behind these metabolites. However, connecting the evolving structure of metabolites to their functions and bioactivities remains a challenge.

Our lab uses plant synthetic biology coupled with biochemical, metabolomics and computational approaches to investigate the evolution of plant chemical diversity. One current project in lab uses anti-herbivory acylsugars in Solanaceae as a model system to elucidate biochemical pathways and molecular evolution that gives rise to acylsugar structural diversity. The obtained biochemical knowledge provide a powerful toolset that we leverage to engineer chemotypes of acylsugars with CRISPR/Cas9 and synthetic biology tools in isogenic plant backgrounds. The generated plants serve as an ideal system to elucidate the impacts of specialized metabolite structural features on species interactions. By applying biochemistry to chemical ecology, we seek to understand evolution on the chemical level and discover evolution-guided solutions to create products useful to humans.

Graduate Program Affiliations

Education and Degree(s)
  • 2008 B.Sc. in Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University
  • 2010 M.Sc. in Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University
  • 2017 Ph.D. in Plant Biology, Cornell University
  • 2017 Postdoc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University