Research in my lab focuses on three inter-related aspects of molecular dinoflagellate cell biology, the architectural organization of liquid crystalline chromosomes, the biogenesis of their cellulosic membranous cell coverings, as well as switches between cell cycle and life cycles.
Dinoflagellates solve life-problems with completely different solutions, many of which are applicable to solve our problems, in neutraceutics, in diseases, in materials and in recycling.
Dinoflagellates, a major unicellular group (>2000 species), are a significant group of regular phytoplankton, the intracellular symbiotic microalgae (zooxanthellae) of corals (and many other invertebrates), and major causative agents of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Motile-immotile cell transitions are important determinants in the dynamics of HABs, stress responses and bleached coral regeneration. Many species are also significant in aquaculture, as larval feeds, as disease agents and toxin producers, causing seafood poisoning syndromes when amplified through the food chain. Species of the heterotrophic genus Crypthecodinium has high oil content and is an industrial producer of DHA (incorporated in most infant formula).
Many symbiotic dinoflagellates are maintained in hospite by invertebrate cells, the most important of which is the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis, cessation of which manifested as coral bleaching. Many dinoflagellates are at the forefront facing climatic change, multiple modes of nutrition (very often at the same time), contribution to marine snow, formation of recurring cysts and potential in calcium carbonate sequestration. Recent developments in genomics and transgenesis render the group a new strategic frontier for molecular biotechnology and synthetic biology.
Potential students are encouraged to contact Prof. Wong directly
Yan, KHT, Ng,JCN, Kwok, ACM, and Wong, JTY (2020) Knockdown of dinoflagellate condensin CcSMC4 subunit led to S-phase impediment and decompaction of liquid crystalline chromosomes. Microorganism(accepted)
Chan, W.S., Kwok, A.C.M., and Wong, J.T.Y. (2019) Knockdown of dinoflagellate cellulose synthase CesA1 resulted in malformed intracellular cellulosic thecal plates and severely impeded cyst-to-swarmer transition. Frontiers in Microbiology3389/fmicb.2019.00546
Kwok A.C. M. and Wong J.T.Y. (2010) Activities of a walled-bound cellulase is coupled to and is required for cell cycle progression in a dinoflagellate. Plant Cell 22:1281-1298. http://www.plantcell.org/content/22/4/1281
Leung, S.K.and Wong, J.T.Y. (2009) The replication of plastid minicircles involves rolling circle intermediates. Nucleic Acids Research 37: 1991-2002. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkp063
Chan Y.H. and Wong J.T.Y. (2007) Concentration-dependent organization of DNA by the dinoflagellate histone-like protein HCc3. Nucleic Acids Research; 35:2573-2583. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkm165