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First, we decipher the evolutionary processes that have generated enormous diversity of form and behaviour well-known in nature, using bats as a model study group. Bats account for around 25% of extant mammal species and represent one of the world's most fascinating yet least-understood animals. They are mammals but possess many unique features distinctive from other mammals, such as powered flight, laryngeal echolocation, and strong immunity conferring greater capacity to co-exist with many deadly viruses. Meanwhile, bats exhibit enormous diversity in diet, behaviour, and morphological and physiological traits. We attempt to uncover molecular evolutionary history of all these traits by comparing bats with other mammals. Lately we have had a major interest toward the evolution of bat immune genes resulted from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. In this line of research, we attempt to focus on bats, but we are open to study other vertebrate animals in rare cases.


Second, we develop or test evolutionary hypotheses on the evolution of sensory systems across vertebrate animals within a phylogenetic framework. Humans and other mammals use the five traditional senses of taste, sight, smell, sound, and touch to perceive the world around us. Much of our current work is to discover molecular basis of functional evolution of sensory genes, using vertebrate taste receptor genes as a model study system. We use an interdisciplinary approach that includes molecular evolution, comparative genomics, population genetics, protein engineering, cell culture, and calcium mobilization assay. In this line of research, we are not limited to a particular group of animals, but we are most familiar with birds and mammals in general, and bats in particular.