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Associate Professor

Plant Science & Landscape Architecture 6123 Plant Sciences Building 4291 Fieldhouse Drive College Park, Maryland 20742

RESEARCH FOCUS

  • To understand the molecular mechanisms that plants have evolved to cope with abiotic stresses
  • Identification of key components in signal transduction pathways for plant responses to abiotic stresses, with the long-term goal of developing rational strategies to improve crop productivity and agricultural and environmental sustainability a combination of forward and reverse genetics in Arabidopsis thaliana, tomato, and other crop plants to study the roles of proteins and non-protein encoding regulatory small RNAs in plant abiotic stress responses
  • Molecular mechanisms of plant abiotic stress responses
  • Gene regulation
  • Functional genomics
  • Epigenetics
  • Study the roles of proteins and non-protein encoding regulatory small RNAs in plant responses to abiotic stresses including salinity, drought, and temperature extremes (cold & heat)

Biography

Biography: 

Land plants are frequently challenged by the changing physical environment, which often generates various biotic and abiotic stresses including salinity, drought, and temperature extremes. According to reports from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 96.5% of global rural land area is under the influence of abiotic stresses. These abiotic stresses adversely affect the productivity and quality of crops worldwide. My research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms that plants have evolved to cope with abiotic stresses. Most of my effort has been concentrating on the identification of key components in signal transduction pathways for plant responses to abiotic stresses, with the long-term goal of developing rational strategies to improve crop productivity and agricultural and environmental sustainability. In my lab, we use a combination of forward and reverse genetics in Arabidopsis thalianatomato, and other crop plants to study the roles of proteins and non-protein encoding regulatory small RNAs in plant abiotic stress responses.

Education: 

Ph.D. in Horticulture from Purdue University, West  Lafayette, Indiana

B.S. in Biological Education from Anhui Institute of Education, Hefei, Anhui, China

Awards and Honors: 

2011 - CERTIFICATE OF MERIT – RESEARCH, the Local Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta (University of Maryland - National Capital Area Chapter)

Professional Work

Professional Positions Held: 

2014-Present  Associate Professor Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
2008-2014 Assistant Professor Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Professional Service: 

Organizational Membership

American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS)

Editorial Board Member:

Horticulture Research

International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Journal of Integrative Plant Biology

Frontiers in Plant Science: Plant Abiotic Stress

Research

Areas of Interest: 

  • Molecular mechanisms of plant abiotic stress responses

  • Gene regulation

  • Functional genomics

  • Epigenetics

Current Research: 

We use a combination of forward and reverse genetics in Arabidopsis thaliana, Solanum lycopersicum (tomato), Oryza sativa (rice), and other crop plants to study the roles of proteins and non-protein encoding regulatory small RNAs in plant responses to abiotic stresses including salinity, drought, and temperature extremes (cold & heat).

 

Teaching

Courses Taught: 

PLSC201 PLANT STRUCTURE & FUNCTION Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020
PLSC203 PLANTS, GENES & BIOTECHNOLOGY Spring 2013
PLSC400 ENVIRONMENTAL PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014
PLSC399 SPECIAL PROBLEMS PLSC Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 2016
PLSC601 PLANT GENOMICS Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016
PLSC608T SUPERVISED TEACHING Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016
PLSC689A PLNT SCI & LNDSCP ARCH Fall 2014, Spring 2015
PLSC689B SIGNAL TRNSDCTN PTHWY Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016
PLSC689D PROGRESS ISSUE BIOENERGY Spring 2015
PLSC789 ADVANCES IN RESEARCH Spring 2011
PLSC789B BIOENERGY Spring 2012

Publications

Selected Publications: 

 Articles in Refereed Journals:

Liang, M.-H., Jiang, J.-G.*, Wang, L., and Zhu, J.* (2020) Transcriptomic insights into the heat stress response of Dunaliella bardawil. Enzyme and Microbial Technology. 132: 109436. doi.org/10.1016/j.enzmictec.2019.109436.

Hu, T., Wang, Y., Wang, Q., Dang, N., Wang, L., Liu, C., Zhu, J.*, and Zhan, X.* (2019) The tomato 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase gene SlF3HL is critical for chilling stress tolerance. Horticulture Research. 6:45. doi:10.1038/s41438-019-0127-5. *Co-corresponding authors.

Liang, M.-H., Wang, L., Wang, Q., Zhu, J.*, and Jiang, J.-G*. (2019) High-value bioproducts from microalgae: strategies and progress. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 59 (15):2423-2441. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1455030. *Co-corresponding authors.

Liu, C.-C., Chi, C., Jin, L.-J., Zhu, J., Yu, J.-Q., and Zhou, Y.-H. (2018) The bZip transcription factor HY5 mediates CRY1a-induced anthocyanin biosynthesis in tomato. Plant, Cell & Environment. 41:1762-1775.

 Gu, J., Xia, Z., Luo, Y., Jiang, X., Qian, B., Xie, H., Zhu, J.-K., Xiong, L., Zhu, J.*, and Wang, Z.-Y.* (2018) Spliceosomal protein U1A is involved in alternative splicing and salt stress tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nucleic Acids Research. 46:1777-1792. *Co-corresponding authors.

 Liang, M.-H., Zhu, J.*, and Jiang, J.-G.* (2018) Carotenoids biosynthesis and cleavage related genes from bacteria to plants. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 58:2314-2333. doi:10.1080/10408398.2017.1322552. *Co-corresponding authors.

Zhan, X.*, Qian, B., Cao, F., Wu, W., Yang, L., Quan, Q., Gu, X., Wang, P., Okusolubo, T.A., Dunn, S.L., Zhu, J.-K., and Zhu, J.* (2015) An Arabidopsis PWI- and RRM motif-containing protein is critical for pre-mRNA splicing and ABA responses. Nature Communications. 6:8139. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9139 (2015). *Co-corresponding authors; Dunn, S.L., undergraduate student; Okusolubo, T.A., high school student.

Wang, Z.-Y., Gehring, C., Zhu, J., Li, F.-M., Zhu, J.-K., and Xiong, L. (2015) The Arabidopsis VSR1 is required for osmotic stress-induced abscisic acid biosynthesis. Plant Physiology. 167:137-152.

Guan, Q., Yue, X., Zeng, H., and Zhu, J. (2014) The protein phosphatase RCF2 and its interacting partner NAC019 are critical for heat stress-responsive gene regulation and thermotolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 26:438-453

Jeong, I.S., Fukudome, A., Aksoy, E., Bang, W.Y., Kim, S., Guan, Q., Bahk, J.D., May, K.A., Russell, W.K., Zhu, J., and Koiwa, H. (2013) Regulation of abiotic stress signalling by Arabidopsis C-terminal Domain Phosphatase-like 1 requires interaction with a K-homology domain-containing protein. PLoS One. 8(11): e80509.

Guan, Q., Wen, C., Zeng, H, and Zhu, J.  (2013) A KH domain-containing putative RNA-binding protein is critical for heat stress-responsive gene regulation and thermotolerance in Arabidopsis. Molecular Plant. 6:386-395.

Guan, Q., Wu, J., Zhang, Y., Jiang, C., Liu, R., Chai, C., and Zhu, J. (2013) A DEAD box RNA helicase is critical for pre-mRNA splicing, cold-responsive gene regulation, and cold tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 25:342-356.

Guan, Q., Lu, X., Zeng, H., Zhang, Y., and Zhu, J.(2013) Heat stress induction of miR398 triggers a regulatory loop that is critical for thermotolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal. 74:840-851.

Li, W.*, Guan, Q.*, Wang, Z.-Y., Wang, Y., and Zhu, J. (2013) A bi-functional xyloglucan galactosyltransferase is an indispensable salt stress tolerance determinant in Arabidopsis. Molecular Plant. 6:1344-1354. *Equal contribution.

Lu, X., Guan, Q., and Zhu, J. (2013) Downregulation of CSD2 by a heat-inducible miR398 is required for thermotolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Signaling & Behavior. 8: e24952.

Guan, Q., Wu, J., Yue, X., Zhang, Y., and Zhu, J. (2013) A nuclear calcium-sensing pathway is critical for gene regulation and salt stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genetics. 9(8):e1003755.

Barrera-Figueroa, B.E., Gao, L., Wu, Z., Zhou, X., Zhu, J., Jin, H., Liu, R., and Zhu, J.-K. (2012) High throughput sequencing reveals novel and abiotic stress-regulated microRNAs in the inflorescences of rice. BMC Plant Biology.12:132.

Khraiwesh, B., Zhu, J.-K., and Zhu, J. (2012) Role of miRNAs and siRNAs in biotic and abiotic stress responses of plants. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Gene Regulatory Mechanisms. 1819:137-148.

Wang, Z.-Y., Xiong, L., Li, W., Zhu, J.-K., and Zhu, J. (2011) Plant cuticle is required for osmotic stress regulation of abscisic acid biosynthesis and osmotic stress tolerance. Plant Cell. 23:1971-1984.

Zhu, J.#, Lee, B.-h., Dellinger, M., Cui, X., Zhang, C., Wu, S., Nothnagel, E.A., and Zhu, J.-K. (2010) A cellulose synthase-like protein is required for osmotic stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal. 63:128-140. #Corresponding author.

Ren, Z., Zheng, Z., Chinnusamy, V., Zhu, J., Cui, X., Iida, K., and Zhu, J.-K. (2010) RAS1, a quantitative trait locus for salt tolerance and ABA sensitivity in Arabidopsis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107:5669-5674.

He, X.J., Hsu, Y.F., Zhu, S., Liu, H.L., Pontes, O., Zhu, J., Cui, X., Wang, C.S., and Zhu, J.-K. (2009). A conserved transcriptional regulator is required for RNA-directed DNA methylation and plant development. Genes & Development. 23:2717-2722.

He, X.J., Hsu, Y-F., Pontes, O., Zhu, J., Lu, J., Bressan, R.A., Pikaard, C., Wang, C.-S., and Zhu, J.-K. (2009) NRPD4, a protein related to the RPB4 subunit of RNA polymerase II, is a component of RNA polymerases IV and V and is required for RNA-directed DNA methylation. Genes & Development. 23:318-330.

Zheng, X., Pontes, O., Zhu, J., Miki, D., Zhang, F., Li, W.X., Iida, K., Kapoor, A., Pikaard, C.S., and Zhu, J.-K. (2008). ROS3 is an RNA-binding protein required for DNA demethylation in Arabidopsis. Nature. 455:1259-1262.

Li, W.X., Oono, Y., Zhu, J., He, X.J., Wu, J.M., Iida, K., Lu, X.Y., Cui, X., Jin, H., and Zhu, J.-K. (2008). The Arabidopsis NFYA5 transcription factor is regulated transcriptionally and posttranscriptionally to promote drought resistance. Plant Cell. 20:2238-2251.

Zhu, J.*, Jeong, J.C.*, Zhu, Y., Sokolchik, I., Miyazaki, S., Zhu, J.-K., Hasegawa, P.M., Bohnert, H.J., Shi, H.,Yun, D.-J., and Bressan, R.A. (2008) Involvement of Arabidopsis HOS15 in histone deacetylation and cold tolerance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105:4945-4950. *Equal contribution.

Zhang, K., Sridhar, V.V., Zhu, J., Kapoor, A., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Distinctive core histone post-translational modification patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS One. 2:e1210.

Verslues, P.E., Batelli, G., Grillo, S., Agius, F., Kim, Y.-S., Zhu, J., Agarwal, M., Katiyar-Agarwal, S., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Interaction of SOS2 with nucleoside diphosphate kinase 2 and catalases reveals a point of connection between salt stress and H2O2 signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 27:7771-7780.

Zhu, J., Fu, X., Koo, Y.D., Zhu, J.-K., Jenney, F.E., Jr., Adams, M.W., Zhu, Y., Shi, H., Yun,D.-J., Hasegawa, P.M., and Bressan, R.A. (2007) An enhancer mutant of Arabidopsis salt overly sensitive 3mediates both ion homeostasis and the oxidative stress response. Molecular and Cellular Biology.27:5214-5224.

Zhu, J.*, Kapoor, A.*, Sridhar, V.V., Agius, F., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) The DNA glycosylase/lyase ROS1 functions in pruning the DNA methylation patterns in Arabidopsis. Current Biology. 17:54-59. *Equal contribution.

Zheng, X., Zhu, J., Kapoor, A., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Role of Arabidopsis AGO 6in siRNA accumulation, DNA methylation and transcriptional gene silencing. EMBO Journal. 26:1691-1701.

Chinnusamy, V., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Cold stress regulation of gene expression in plants. Trends in Plant Science. 12:444-451.

Sunkar, R., Chinnusamy, V., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Small RNAs as big players in plant abiotic stress responses and nutrient deprivation. Trends in Plant Science. 12:301-309.

Zhu, J., Dong, C.-H., and Zhu, J.-K. (2007) Interplay between cold-responsive gene regulation, metabolism and RNA processing during plant cold acclimation. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 10:290-295.

Katiyar-Agarwal, S., Zhu, J., Kim, K., Agarwal, M., Fu, X., Huang, A., and Zhu, J.-K. (2006) The plasma membrane na+/H+ antiporter SOS1 interacts with RCD1 and functions in oxidative stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.103:18816-18821.

Lee, B.-H., Kapoor, A., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2006) STABILIZED1, a stress-upregulated nuclear protein, is required for pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA turnover, and stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 18:1736-1749.

Verslues, P.E., Agarwal, M., Katiyar-Agarwal, S., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2006) Methods and concepts in quantifying resistance to drought, salt and freezing, abiotic stresses that affect plant water status. Plant Journal. 45:523-539.

Chinnusamy, V., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2006) Gene regulation during cold acclimation in plants. Physiologia Plantarum. 126:52-61.

Chinnusamy, V., Zhu, J., and Zhu, J.-K. (2006) Salt stress signaling and mechanisms of plant salt tolerance. Genetic engineering: Principles and Methods. Setlow J.K., Eds (New York, Plenum Press). 27:141-177.

Borsani, J.O., Zhu, J., Verslues, P.E., Sunkar, R., and Zhu, J.-K. (2005) Endogenous siRNAs derived from a pair of natural cis-antisense transcripts regulate salt tolerance in Arabidopsis. Cell. 123: 1279-1291.

Gong, Z., Dong, C.-H., Lee, H., Zhu, J., Xiong, L., Gong, D., Stevenson, B., and Zhu, J.-K. (2005) A DEAD box RNA helicase is essential for mRNA export and important for development and stress responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 17:256-267.

Inan, G., Zhang, Q., Li, P., Wang, Z., Cao, Z., Zhang, H., Zhang, C., Quist, T.M., Goodwin, S.M., Zhu, J., Shi, H., Damsz, B., Charbaji, T., Gong, Q., Ma, S., Fredricksen, M., Galbraith, D.W., Jenks, M.A., Rhodes, D., Hasegawa, P.M., Bohnert, H.J., Joly, R.J., Bressan, R.A., and Zhu, J.-K. (2004) Salt cress. A halophyte and cryophyte Arabidopsis relative model system and its applicability to molecular genetic analyses of growth and development of extremophiles. Plant Physiology. 135:1718-1737.

Koiwa, H., Li, F., McCully, M.G., Mendoza, I., Koizumi, N., Manabe, Y., Nakagawa, Y., Zhu, J., Rus, A., Pardo, J.M., Bressan, R.A., and Hasegawa, P.M. (2004) The STT3a subunit isoform of the Arabidopsis oligosaccharyltransferase controls adaptive responses to salt/osmotic stress. Plant Cell. 15:2273-2284.

Zhu, J.,Shi, H., Lee, B.-h., Damsz, B., Cheng, S., Stirm, V., Zhu, J.-K., Hasegawa, P.M., and Bressan, R.A. (2004) An Arabidopsis homeodomain transcription factor gene, HOS9, mediates cold tolerance through a CBF-independent pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 101:9873-9878.

Zhu, J., Gong, Z., Zhang, C., Song, C.-P., Damsz, B., Inan, G., Koiwa, H., Zhu, J.-K., Hasegawa, P.M., and Bressan, R.A. (2002) OSM1/SYP61: a syntaxin protein in Arabidopsis controls abscisic acid-mediated and non-abscisic acid-mediated responses to abiotic stress. Plant Cell. 14:3009-3028.

Koiwa, H., Barb, A.W., Xiong, L., Li, F., McCully, M.G., Lee, B.H., Sokolchik, I., Zhu, J., Gong, Z., Reddy, M., Sharkhuu, A., Manabe, Y., Yokoi, S., Zhu, J.-K., Bressan, R.A., and Hasegawa, P.M. (2002) C-terminal domain phosphatase-like family members (AtCPLs) differentially regulate Arabidopsis thaliana abiotic stress signaling, growth, and development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99:10893-10898.

Gong, Z., Koiwa, H., Cushman, M.A., Ray, A., Bufford, D., Kore-eda, S., Matsumoto, T.K., Zhu, J., Cushman, J.C., Bressan, R.A., and Hasegawa, P.M. (2001)Genes that are uniquely stress regulated in salt overly sensitive (sos) mutants. Plant Physiology. 126: 363-375.