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First, we decipher the evolutionary processes responsible for the vast diversity of form and behavior observed in nature, using bats as our model study group. Bats, constituting approximately 25% of extant mammal species, stand out as one of the most fascinating yet enigmatic creatures on Earth. Despite being mammals, they possess numerous distinctive features not found in other mammalian species, including powered flight, laryngeal echolocation, and a unique immune system that enables them to coexist with various deadly viruses. Moreover, bats show remarkable diversity in diet, behavior, as well as morphological and physiological traits. By comparing bats with other mammals, we aim to unveil the molecular evolutionary mechanisms underlying these traits. Recently, our research has taken a significant turn towards investigating the evolution of bat immune genes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. While our primary focus remains on bats, we remain open to studying other vertebrate animals on rare occasions.

Second, we develop or test evolutionary hypotheses regarding the sensory systems across vertebrate animals within a phylogenetic framework. Humans and other mammals rely on the traditional senses of taste, sight, smell, sound, and touch to perceive the world around us. Much of our current work is to discover the molecular basis of the functional evolution of sensory genes, utilizing vertebrate taste receptor genes as a model study system. To achieve this, we employ an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses molecular evolution, comparative genomics, population genetics, protein engineering, cell culture, and calcium mobilization assays. 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.