Dr Kai Xun Chan

PhD in Plant Sciences, Bachelor of Biotechnology (First Class Honours and University Medal in Biology), Australian National University
Group Leader, ARC DECRA Fellow at the Research School of Biology
ANU College of Science
T: 02-61259581

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. To achieve this, my research focuses on:

  • 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.  
  • the assimilation and partitioning of the key macronutrient, sulfur, during abiotic stress. Sulfur is required for the synthesis of various stress-responsive compounds and its consumption requires careful coordination within the plant.
  • utilising high throughput chemical biology to develop novel compounds for targeting and manipulating the biochemical/structural properties of signalling proteins for both fundamental and applied research.


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 at ANU, elucidating the structural regulation of the chloroplast signaling protein SAL1. After postdoctoral stints at the ANU and at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology in Belgium as an FWO Research Fellow, Kai returned to ANU in 2022 as a Group Leader and ARC DECRA Fellow. 

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 ARC DECRA, FWO Research Fellowship and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission. He is also funded by two industry grants from ANU-UC Connect Ventures.

Kai 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


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  20 May 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers