Mr Kai Xun Chan

PhD in Plant Sciences, Bachelor of Biotechnology (First Class Honours and University Medal in Biology), Australian National University
Postdoctoral Research Associate, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
College of Science
T: 02-61257702

Areas of expertise

  • Plant Cell And Molecular Biology 060702
  • Cell Metabolism 060104
  • Proteomics And Intermolecular Interactions (Excl. Medical Proteomics) 060109

Research interests

I am interested in understanding the process of how different components of a plant cell communicate with one another to coordinate responses to environmental challenges. Specifically, I am investigating the regulation of signals involved in retrograde communication between chloroplasts and mitochondria with the nucleus during oxidative stresses such as drought and high light stress. Understanding these processes may uncover mechanisms of stress perception in plant energy organelles and and the role of protein redox regulation in organelle signaling. An additional research aspect that I am interested in is the assimilation and partitioning of the key macronutrient sulfur during abiotic stress, since sulfur is required for the synthesis of various stress-responsive compounds and its consumption requires careful coordination within the plant.


Kai Xun Chan completed his Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology with First Class Honours and a University Medal in Biology in 2010 at the Australian National University (ANU). In December 2015 he completed his PhD in Plant Sciences in Professor Barry Pogson's laboratory at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, ANU, elucidating the structural regulation of the chloroplast signaling protein SAL1. 

Throughout his short academic career so far, Kai has won numerous awards including the 2017 ACT Scientist of the Year, 2017 ACT Young Tall Poppy Award, and an ANU JG Crawford Medal, the ANU's premier award for graduate excellence. He is the recipient of several competitive fellowships including an FWO Research Fellowship and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission (commencing 2018). He is also funded by two industry grants from ANU-UC Connect Ventures.

Kai is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, ANU. He has published in various international peer-reviewed journals including PNAS, eLife, Annual Review of Plant Biology, and Trends in Plant Science (see full list below). He also serves as a reviewer for specialist plant research journals including The Plant Cell, Plant PhysiologyThe Plant Journal and Journal of Experimental Botany. 


Researcher's projects

  • Redox regulation of organelle signaling
  • Biochemistry and structural biology of stress perception
  • Intersection between cell signaling and metabolic regulation
  • Novel strategies to increase stress tolerance in plants

Available student projects

  • Biochemical mechanisms of organelle signaling in crop plants 
  • Increasing stress tolerance in plants by engineering existing organelle signaling pathways
  • Investigating sulfur utilization during stress in diverse plant species

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Updated:  26 November 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers