College of Biological Sciences



DAVIS, CA 95616

Telephone: (530) 754-8139

FAX: (530) 752-5410


We are cell biologists aiming to learn how plants and fungi build their cells and organize their cytoplasmic contents. We use microscopic and imaging tools to watch how cells divide and enlarge themselves. People in the laboratory also routinely carry out experiments of protein biochemistry, molecular biology, as well as classical and molecular genetics. We have open positions for serious graduate students and undergraduate students. If you are interested in traveling into plant and fungal cells, please contact Dr. Bo Liu, the principal investigator, at You are invited to visit the laboratory in Green Hall 2203 or talk to Dr. Liu at (530) 754-8138. Recent findings are summarized in the posters presented outside the laboratory.

People in the Laboratory:

Dedicated research scientist:

Dr. Yuh-Ru Julie Lee (Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens, GA)

Determined Graduate students:

Ms. M. Ximena Anleu Gil (B.A., Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA)

Mr. Calvin H. Huang (B.S., University of California, Davis, CA)

Mr. Huan (Howard) Huo (B.S., Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)

Ms. Man Kei (Constance) Tse (B.S., Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China)

Dependable undergraduate students:

Mr. Yuchen Liu (Senior, Plant Biology)

Mr. Yibo Shi (Senior, Cell Biology)

Ms. Qulei Hu (Junior, Biological Sciences)


Celebrating Graduation (Junlin, Cher and Felicia) in 2017

A group of people sitting around a table

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Two years later in 2019, a reunion of now four graduate students (Junlin, Cher, Felicia and Calvin):

A group of people sitting at a table eating a meal at a restaurant

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A Picture from Our Experiments:

This is an Arabidopsis cell undergoing cell division. Segregated sister chromatids are labeled in blue, microtubules in red, and the microtubule-associated protein MAP65-3 in green. Dr. C.-M. Kimmy Ho devoted much of her dissertation to understanding the function of MAP65-3 in cytokinesis. The human counterpart of MAP65-3 is called PRC1 which also is required for cell division. Dr. Ho is assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica now. Her laboratory is devoted to understanding inter-organelle communication as well as symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions in flowering plants.

An Example of the Organisms We Are Working On:

These are images of colonies of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. This fungus is one of the model organisms used for classical genetic studies of fundamental biological processes like the cell cycle. The yellow color was given by the asexual conidial spores produced on the surface of the colonies. The images were taken from identical plates incubated at different temperatures indicated on the left. The strain to the left was a control one which demonstrated a typical growth phenomenon. The middle and right ones were mutants which had problems in nuclear migration. It has been demonstrated by many scientists that the mechanism for nuclear migration in this fungus is very similar to that regulating nuclear migration during fertilization and in brain development in mammals.

Recent Publications:

Liu, B., C.-M. K. Ho, and Y.-R.J. Lee. 2011. Microtubule reorganization during mitosis and cytokinesis: lessons learned from developing microgametophytes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Front. Plant Sci. 2:27. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00027

Ho*, C.-M.K., T. Hotta*, Z. Kong*, C.T. Zeng*, J. Sun, Y.-R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2011. Augmin plays a critical role in organizing the spindle and phragmoplast microtubule arrays in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 23:26062618. (* equal contributions)

Ho, C.-M.K., T. Hotta, F. Guo, R. Roberson, Y.-R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2011. Interaction of anti-parallel microtubules in the phragmoplast is mediated by the microtubule-associated protein MAP65-3 in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 23:29092923.

Hotta, T., Z. Kong, C.M.K. Ho, C.J.T. Zeng, T. Horio, S. Fong, T. Vuong, Y.R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2012. Characterization of the Arabidopsis augmin complex uncovers its critical function in the assembly of the acentrosomal spindle and phragmoplast microtubule arrays. Plant Cell. 24:1494-1509.

Ho, C.-M.K., Y.R.J. Lee, L.D. Kiyama, S.P. Dinesh-Kumar, and B. Liu. 2012. Arabidopsis microtubule-associated protein MAP65-3 cross-links anti-parallel microtubules toward their plus ends in the phragmoplast via its distinct C-terminal microtubule-binding domain. Plant Cell. 24:2071-2085.

Liu, B. 2013. Microtubule disassembly: when a sleeper is activated. Current Biology, 23: R932-933.

Lee, Y.-R.J. and B. Liu. 2013. The rise and fall of the phragmoplast microtubule array. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 16:757763.

Zeng, C.T., H.R. Kim, I. Vargus Arispuro, J.-M. Kim, A.-C. Huang, and B. Liu. 2014. Microtubule plus end-tracking proteins play critical roles in directional growth of hyphae by regulating the dynamics of cytoplasmic microtubules in Aspergillus nidulans. Mol Microbiol. 94 (3):506-521.

Liu, T., J. Tian, G. Wang, Y. Yu, C. Wang, Y. Ma, X. Zhang, G. Xia, B. Liu, Z. Kong. 2014. Augmin triggers microtubule-dependent microtubule nucleation in interphase plant cells. Current Biology. 24:2708-2713.

Kong, Z., M. Ioki, S. Braybrook, S. Li, R. Zhong, Z. Ye, Y.-R.J. Lee, T. Hotta, A. Chang, J. Tian, G. Wang, and B. Liu. 2015. Kinesin-4 functions in vesicular transport on cortical microtubules and regulates cell wall mechanics during cell elongation in plants. Molecular Plant. 8(7):1011-1023.

Wang, B., K. Li , M. Jin, R. Qiu, B. Liu, B.R. Oakley, and X. Xiang. 2015. The Aspergillus nidulans bimC4 mutation provides an excellent tool for identification of kinesin-14 inhibitors. Fungal Genet. Biol. 82:51-55.

Lee, Y.-R.J., W. Qiu, and B. Liu. 2015. Kinesin motors in plants: from subcellular dynamics to motility regulation. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 28:120-126.

Lee, Y.-R. J., and B. Liu. 2016. Cytokinesis. In Plant Cell Biology, S. Assmann, B. Liu (eds.). Springer, New York. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-7881-2_9-1

Citovsky, V., and B. Liu. 2017. Myosin-driven transport network in plants is functionally robust and distinctive. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 114 (8):17561758. pii: 201700184. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1700184114. PMID: 28179563

Li*, H., B. Sun*, M. Sasabe, X. Deng, Y. Machida, H. Lin, Y.-R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2017. Arabidopsis MAP65-4 plays a role in phragmoplast microtubule organization and marks the cortical cell division site. New Phytologist. 215(1):187-201.

Lv*, S., H. Miao*, M. Luo, Y. Li, Q. Wang, Y.-R. J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2017. CAPPI: a Cytoskeleton-based localization Assay reports Protein-Protein Interaction in living cells by fluorescence microscopy. Molecular Plant. 10 (11), 14731476.

Lee, Y.-R. J., Y. Hiwatashi, T. Hotta, T. Xie, J. Doonan, and B. Liu. 2017. The mitotic function of augmin is dependent on its microtubule-associated protein subunit EDE1 in Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Biology. 27:3891-3897.

Tseng, K.-F., P. Wang, Y.-R. J. Lee, J. Bowen, A.M. Gicking, L. Guo, B. Liu, and W. Qiu. 2018. The preprophase band-associated kinesin-14 OsKCH2 is a processive minus-end-directed microtubule motor. Nature Communications, 9(1):1067.

Zhang*, H., X. Deng*, B. Sun, S. Van, Z. Kang, H. Lin, Y.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2018. Role of the BUB3 protein in phragmoplast microtubule reorganization during cytokinesis. Nature Plants, 4:485494.

Lee, Y.-R.J. and B. Liu. 2019. Microtubule nucleation for the assembly of acentrosomal microtubule arrays in plant cells. New Phytologist. 222:1705-1718.

Boruc*, J., X. Deng*, E. Mylle, N. Besbrugge, M. Van Durme, D. Demidov, E. Tomastikova, C. T.-R. Tan, M. Vandorpe, D. Eeckhout, T. Beeckman, M. Nowack, G. De Jaeger, H. Lin, B. Liu#, and D. Van Damme#. 2019. The TPX2Like protein 3 is the primary activator of a-Aurora kinases and essential for embryogenesis. Plant Physiology, 180:13891405. PMID: 31097675 DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.01515

Miao, H., R. Guo, J. Chen, Q. Wang, Y.-R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2019. The g-tubulin complex protein GCP6 is crucial for spindle morphogenesis but not essential for microtubule reorganization in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116 (52):27115-27123.

Xu, J., Y.-R.J. Lee, and B. Liu. 2020. Establishment of a mitotic model system by transient expression of the D-type cyclin in differentiated leaf cells of tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana). New Phytologist. 226(4):1213-1220.

Liu, B. and X. Guo. 2021. Disarming PI(4,5)P2 in the plasma membrane. Nature Plants. 7(5):552-553. doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00902-4

Liu, B., and Y.-R.J. Lee. 2022. Spindle assembly and mitosis in plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology. 73:227-254.

Hotta*, T., Y.-R.J. Lee*, T. Higaki, T. Hashimoto, and B. Liu. 2022. Two Kinesin‐14A motors oligomerize to drive poleward microtubule convergence for acentrosomal spindle morphogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Front. Cell Dev. Biol. 10:949345. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2022.949345



Links To Journals in the BO LIBRARY