CAI Jing

Assistant Professor, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences

CKYC Affiliate




Working Experience



 Teaching courses


CMED715 Biomedical Informatics (M.Sc. Course)

CMED722 Advanced natural products chemistry (M.Sc. Course)

GRSC805 University Teaching II (Ph.D. Course)



Research Interest

Medicinal plant is an important resource that has been used by traditional medicine for long history. However, lack of knowledge on the biosynthesis of active natural product in plant, has greatly restricted our application of medicinal plant to cure human diseases. We are using the high throughput sequencing technology in combination with functional genomics methodology to study the biosynthesis of active natural product in medicinal plant. This research will provide fundamental knowledge on the assessment of germplasm and breeding practice of medicinal plant. On the other side, the knowledge of biosynthesis pathway will also enable us to reconstruct and optimize the production of active natural product in bio-factories (such as engineered yeast strains), which will facilitate the basic and clinical bio-medicinal research of the medicinal plant.

By comparing medicinal plant and its close related species, we are investigating on the mechanism of biosynthesis pathway evolution. Through this study, we are trying to answer a fundamental biological question of how pathway evolved. On the other side, those knowledge will also enable us to build up novel biosynthesis pathway to produce new active product.


Dr. Cai has genetics, genomics and bioinformatics background and research experience. Dr. Cai has discovered the first de novo origination of a protein coding gene in yeast by comparing sibling yeast species during his PhD study. This work was highlighted with a single page commentary titled “A new gene was born” in “Nature Review Genetics” soon after it was published in “Genetics”. Later, Dr. Cai was awarded the second prize of National Natural Science as a co-recipient due to his work in yeast. And Dr. Cai also participated in the Giant Panda genome project during his PhD study. It is the first complex genome sequenced by second generation sequencing technology and was published as a cover paper on “Nature”. Later during his Post-doc study, Dr. Cai and many international collaborators finished the genome project of an orchid Phalaenopsis equestris. In this study, Dr. Cai characterized the evolution of Crassulacean Metabolic Pathway(CAM) by comparing with other C3 and C4 plant genomes. This study was published in “Nature Genetics” as a cover paper.


We are applying genomics and synthetic biology tools on study of medicinal plants to investigate the biosynthesis pathway and pathway evolution. If you are interested to join us as master or PhD students or Postdoc, please send your CV and personal statement to


Selected Publications

1.       Jing Cai, Ruoping Zhao, Huifeng Jiang, and Wen Wang, 2008 De Novo Origination of a New Protein-Coding Gene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics.

2.       Dan Li, Yang Dong, Yu Jiang, Huifeng Jiang, Jing Cai and Wen Wang, 2010 A de novo originated gene depresses budding yeast mating pathway and is repressed by the protein encoded by its antisense strand. Cell Research.

3.       Ruiqiang Li*, Wei Fan*, Geng Tian*, Hongmei Zhu*, Lin He*, Jing Cai*(*co-first author) et al., 2010 The sequence and de novo assembly of the giant panda genome. Naturecover paper.

4.       Zhongjian Liu, Lijun Chen, Xinqi Chen, Jing Cai et al., 2011 Paraholcoglossum and Tsiorchis, Two New Orchid Genera Established By Molecular and Morphological Analyses of the Holcoglossum Alliance. PLoS ONE.

5.      Yingmei Peng, Jing Cai*(*co-first author), Wen Wang, Bing Su, 2012 Multiple Inter-Kingdom Horizontal Gene Transfers in the Evolution of the Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylase Gene Family. PLoS ONE.

6.       Jing Cai et al., 2015 The Genome sequence of the orchid Phalaenopsis equestris. Nature Geneticscover paper.

7.       Chen Huang, Jean-Étienne RL Morlighem, Hefeng Zhou, Érica P Lima, Paula B Gomes, Jing Cai, Inchio Lou, Carlos D Pérez, Simon Ming Lee, and Gandhi Rádis-Baptista, 2016. The Transcriptome of the Zoanthid Protopalythoa variabilis (Cnidaria, Anthozoa) Predicts a Basal Repertoire of Toxin-like and Venom-Auxiliary Polypeptides. Genome Biology and Evolution Vol. 8 3045-3064 doi:10.1093/gbe/evw204

8.       Jing Cai, Pengjuan Zu, Florian P. Schiestl, 2016 The molecular bases of floral scent evolution under artificial selection: insights from a transcriptome analysis in Brassica rapa. Scientific Reports 6, 36966; doi: 10.1038/srep36966.

9.       Kui L, Chen H, Zhang W, He S, Xiong Z, Zhang Y, Yan L, Zhong C, He F, Chen J, Zeng P, Zhang G, Yang S, Dong Y, Wang W and Cai J (2016). Building a genetic manipulation tool box for orchid biology: Identification of constitutive promoters and application of CRISPR/Cas9 in the orchid, Dendrobium officinale. Frontiers in Plant Science. 7:2036. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.02036.



Contact details:

Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences

State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine

University of Macau, Room 1010, N22

Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau
Tel: +853-8822-8559; Mobile: +853-65712673; +86-17765712673