Tian Wu

Tian Wu — PhD student
Joined the group in 2020

My research interest is to pinpoint the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the evolutionary and functional adaptation of plant recent/ancient polyploidy events, mostly on an in-building model system Spirodela Polyrhiza (duckweed) by Experimental Evolution. To achieve this goal, I need both an evolutionary genomics approach and a "multi-omics" strategy: for the former, population re-sequencing among different generations will be generated in lab; for the later, a series of treatments in different culture conditions and stresses will be performed on duckweed for transcriptome and metabolome sampling. These two combined strategies will hopefully lead to the detection of associated genomic regions or lead to the proposal of a hypothetical model that could provide a direct explanation of functional adaptation advantages caused by polyploidy (whole genome duplication).

Meanwhile, I am also interested in manipulating the target polyploidy plant by a genome editing (CRISPR-Cas9) approach, which will be employed when necessary.

Jan 2020 - Present: PhD student, Bioinformatics & Evolutionary Genomics, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Ghent, Belgium
Jan 2016 - Nov 2019: Assistant Researcher, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China
Jul 2010 - Dec 2015: NGS-based Product Manager, BGI Genomics Co.,Ltd, Shenzhen, China
Sep 2007 - Jul 2010: Master of Science in Zoology (Research area: Environmental Toxicology), Faculty of Life Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
Sep 2003 - Jul 2007: Bachelor of Engineering in Bioengineering, Faculty of Life Science, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China


  1. Bafort, Q., Wu, T., Natran, A., De Clerck, O., & Van de Peer, Y. (2023). The immediate effects of polyploidization of Spirodela polyrhiza change in a strain-specific way along environmental gradients. EVOLUTION LETTERS, 7(1), 37–47. https://doi.org/10.1093/evlett/qrac003
    The immediate effects of plant polyploidization are well characterized and it is generally accepted that these morphological, physiological, developmental, and phenological changes contribute to polyploid establishment. Studies on the environmental dependence of the immediate effects of whole-genome duplication (WGD) are, however, scarce but suggest that these immediate effects are altered by stressful conditions. As polyploid establishment seems to be associated with environmental disturbance, the relationship between ploidy-induced phenotypical changes and environmental conditions is highly relevant. Here, we use a common garden experiment on the greater duckweed Spirodela polyrhiza to test whether the immediate effects of WGD can facilitate the establishment of tetraploid duckweed along gradients of two environmental stressors. Because successful polyploid establishment often depends on recurrent polyploidization events, we include four genetically diverse strains and assess whether these immediate effects are strain-specific. We find evidence that WGD can indeed confer a fitness advantage under stressful conditions and that the environment affects ploidy-induced changes in fitness and trait reaction norms in a strain-specific way.
  2. Wu, T., Natran, A., Prost, L., Aydogdu Lohaus, E., Van de Peer, Y., & Bafort, Q. (2023). Studying whole-genome duplication using experimental evolution of Spirodela polyrhiza. In Polyploidy : methods and protocols (Vol. 2545, pp. 373–390). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-0716-2561-3_19
    In this chapter, we present the use of Spirodela polyrhiza in experiments designed to study the evolutionary impact of whole-genome duplication (WGD). We shortly introduce this duckweed species and explain why it is a suitable model for experimental evolution. Subsequently, we discuss the most relevant steps and methods in the design of a ploidy-related duckweed experiment. These steps include strain selection, ploidy determination, different methods of making polyploid duckweeds, replication, culturing conditions, preservation, and the ways to quantify phenotypic and transcriptomic change.

Other publications

  1. Wu T., Li L. Z., Jiang X. S., Yang Y., Song Y. Z., Chen L., Xu X., Shen Y., Gu Y.. Sequencing and comparative analysis of three Chlorella genomes provide insights into strain-specific adaptation to wastewater. Scientific Reports. 2019 Jul 2;9(1):9514. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45511-6.

  2. Cheng S., Xian W., Fu Y., Marin B., Kelle J., Wu T., Sun W., … Michael M.. Genomes of Subaerial Zygnematophyceae Provide Insights into Land Plant Evolution. Cell. 2019 Nov 14;179(5):1057-1067.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.019.

  3. Xu R., Li Q., … Wu T., … Yu X.. Association Analysis of the MHC in Lupus Nephritis. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2017 Nov; 28(11):3383-3394. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2016121331

  4. Zhang S., Wu T., Chen M., Guo Z., Yang Z., Zuo Z., Wang C.. Chronic Exposure to Aroclor 1254 Disrupts Glucose Homeostasis in Male Mice via Inhibition of the Insulin Receptor Signal Pathway. Environmental Science & Technology. 2015 Aug 18;49(16):10084-92. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01597.

  5. Lin M., Wu T., Sun L., Lin J., Zuo Z., Wang C.. Aroclor 1254 causes atrophy of exocrine pancreas in mice and the mechanism involved. Environmental Toxicology. 2014 Nov 20. doi: 10.1002/tox.22079.

  6. Zuo Z., Wu T., Lin M., Zhang S., Yan F., Yang Z., Wang Y., Wang C.. Chronic exposure to tributyltin chloride induces pancreatic islet cell apoptosis and disrupts glucose homeostasis in male mice. Environmental Science & Technology. 2014 May 6;48(9):5179-86. doi: 10.1021/es404729p.

  7. Cai J., Wang C., Wu T., Moreno J., Zhong Y., Huang X., Chen Y., Zuo Z.. Disruption of spermatogenesis and differential regulation of testicular estrogen receptor expression in mice after polychlorinated biphenyl exposure. Toxicology. 2011 Sep 5;287(1-3):21-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2011.05.010.

  8. Zuo Z., Chen S., Wu T., Zhang J., Su Y., Chen Y., Wang C.. Tributyltin causes obesity and hepatic steatosis in male mice. Environmental Toxicology. 2011 Feb;26(1):79-85. doi: 10.1002/tox.20531.