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The Comai Lab is in the Department of Plant Biology and the UC Davis Genome Center. We study how hybridization, chromosome number and type affect gene regulation, development and genome evolution. Our model systems are Arabidopsis thaliana, rice, poplar and tomato. With collaborators, we are continuing the work of our colleague Simon Chan investigating the role of Centromeric Histone 3 in centromere function. We are developing improved methods for TILLING to efficiently discover mutations in plant genes.

Click on the research links below to find out more.

Polyploidy, Heterosis, Centromeres, Poplar and TILLING


Click here for Comai Lab News!

Alex seed1.png

Wish you could have a good pic of the "weed"? Alex Kozik and the Comai lab are producing public domain pictures of A. thaliana. See the stunning series at this FLICKR site. Free to the world: no IP, no strings, no charge. Download and use them. Special thanks to Brett Pike for plant growth.


Pubmed report

Recently published or in press

Dlotus1.png Certain plant species, such as spinach, pistachio, papaya, hemp, hop, and persimmon, have a dioecious habit: male and female individuals bear unisexual flowers whose sex is determined by specialized chromosomes, most often X and Y. The genes responsible were unknown, until now. On Halloween 2014, Takashi Akagi, Isabelle Henry, Ryutaro Tao and LC published a paper in Science describing a small RNA-based sex determination mechanism encoded by the Y chromosome of persimmon. A copy of the article and of the supplementary data will be soon available here.
Toolbox.png On Halloween 2014, Ravi et al. published a set of methods in Nature Communications covering multiple uses of the CENH3-based haploid induction system. A copy of the article will be soon available.
Maps5.png In the April 2014 issue of the Plant Cell, Isabelle Henry and colleagues describe a method to find mutations in the exome of rice and wheat. The method entails sequence capture and analysis through the MAPS pipeline. The work was in collaboration with the lab of Tom Tai and Jorge Dubcosvky
Homoeo pairing.png In the January 2014 issue of the Plant Cell, Isabelle Henry and colleagues describe BOY_NAMED_SUE, a genetic locus required for regular meiosis in the allopolyploid Arabidopsis suecica. Isabelle used Illumina sequencing to identify genomic changes consistent with intragenomic recombination. These changes are only found in synthetic A. suecica.
Seed heatmap.png In a paper in the Plant Cell Diana Burkart-Waco and colleagues examine the early transcriptomic consequences of interspecific crosses between Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis arenosa, finding that the incompatibility response includes disruption of endosperm development and activation of defense pathways, but, surprisingly, no identifiable role for widespread transposon activation.
Tetraploid tilling.png Helen Tsai and colleagues demonstrate that treating Arabidopsis thaliana Col-0 autotetraploid with EMS results in high density mutations. A 500-individual population allows searches of KOs with an efficiency comparable to that of very large tagging populations. The paper can be accessed freely in Plant Physiology. A copy of CAMBa2.0 can be downloaded here.

Video tutorials on analysis of high throughput sequence data and on multiplexing

The Y adapter for Illumina sequencing We offer instructional video tutorials on manipulating and analyzing datasets from next-generation sequencing, as well as on sample multiplexing. The target audience is biologists who might use these techniques but would like to perform some of the analysis themselves.

Funding sources

Our research is funded by the Department of Energy grant 201118510 (Creation of High-Precision Characterization of Novel Poplar Biomass Germplasm) and by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF3068 (Chan research). Recent previous support was from National Science Foundation Plant Genome grant DBI-0733857 (Functional Genomics of Polyploids), NSF Plant Genome award DBI-0822383, (TRPGR: Efficient identification of induced mutations in crop species by ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing), and National Institutes of Health R01 GM076103-01A1 (Dosage dependent regulation in hybridization) to LC.

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