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Zhanyuan Zhang

Zhanyuan Zhang

Research Professor
Division of Plant Sciences

E-mail: zhangzh at missouri dot edu
Web site: Plant Biotechnology Innovation Laboratory
Office address: 3-22D Agriculture Building
Office phone: 573-882-6922
Lab address: 007b Sears Plant Growth Facility
Lab phone: 573-882-3730

The primary research goal in Zhanyuan Zhang's laboratory is to develop cutting-edge transgene technologies for soybean (Glycine max) and maize (Zea mays) and biofuel crops. His research focus is on developing high-throughput transformation processes for soybean, maize and switchgrass and efficient gene regulation in complex genome such as soybean. He is also interested in soybean functional genomics employing reverse genetics tools.

His current research falls into three major areas:

Improvement of Transformation Systems

Improvement of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation in major crop such as soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is Zhang’s lab continuous endeavor. This research area includes the improvement of T-DNA integration efficiency and quality, which will make production of transgenic events more cost-effective and further satisfy the need of genome-wide functional analysis of genes in these crop species.

Dr. Zhang’s lab has been a part of the ongoing Plant Genome Research Program focusing on cereal crop transformation funded by the National Science Foundation. For project details view our Transforming Cereal Genomics overview.

Small RNA-mediated gene silencing

Efficient gene regulation in complex genome background, such as soybean, represents a new challenge in transgene technology. Small RNA-mediated silencing technology has been shown to be a powerful tool to accomplish this goal. We focus on design and implement of efficient RNAi in soybean. The lab is now exploring several strategies in improving the efficacy of RNAi in this crop.

Coordinated transgene expression

Coordinated transgene expression represents a unique approach to enhance both plant biology study and crop genetic improvement. This approach overcomes the limitations of conventional means to stack genes for studying complex pathways or improving crop traits.

Precise genome modification

Precision genome modification as an emerging transgene technology opens up a new opportunity to plant genetic improvement and biology study. This technology will be the next wave of transgenic approach and could revolutionize conventional breeding. Current focus in the lab is CRISPR/Cas9 technology.


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Zhang Z. Artificial trans-acting small interfering RNA: a tool for plant biology study and crop improvements. Planta 2014; 239:1139–1146.

Lee H, Zhang Z. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of maize (Zea mays) Immature Embryos. Methods Mol Biol. 2014; 1099:273-280.

Zhou W, Jackson DE, Zhang Z. A flow cytometry approach to detect in vivo chromatin compaction from plant cells. Intl J Plant Biol Res. 2013; 1(1):1004: 1-5.

Nguyen HT, Neelakadan AK, Quach TN, Valliyodan B, Kumar R, Zhang Z, Nguyen HT. Molecular characterization of Glycine max squalene synthase genes in seed phytosterol biosynthesis. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2013;73:23-32.

Suo H, Ma Q, Ye K, Yang C, Tang Y, Hao J, Zhang Z, Chen M, Feng Y, Nian H. Overexpression of AtDREB1A causes a severe dwarf phenotype by decreasing endogenous gibberellin levels in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]. PLoS One. 2012; 7: e45568: 1-7.

Cui Y1, Barampuram S, Stacey MS, Hancock CN, Findley S, Mathieu M, Zhang Z, Parrott WA, Stacey G. Tnt1 Retrotransposon Mutagenesis: A tool for soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] functional genomics. Plant Physiol. 2012. 161:36–47.

Lee HY, Park SY, Zhang Z. 2012. An overview of genetic transformation of soybean. In: Henry R, Furtado A, ed. INTECH Pub. (DOI: 10.5772/51076).

Yin X, Zhang Z. 2010. Chapter I: Soybean Functional Genomics through Reverse Genetics: Opportunities and Challenges. In: Advances in Genetics Research. Urbano KV ed., Vol.4. Nova Sci. Pub. p1-20.

Baykal U, Zhang Z. (2010) Chapter XI: Small RNA-mediated gene silencing for plant biotechnology. In: Gene silencing: theory, techniques and applications. Catalano AJ. ed., Nova Sci Pub, p255-269.

Barampuram S, Zhang Z. Recent advances in plant transformation. Methods Mol Biol 2011;701:1-35.

Wright TR, Shan G, Walsh TA, Lira JM, Cui C, Song P, Zhuang M, Arnold NL, Lin G, Yau K, Russell SM, Cicchillo RM, Peterson MA, Simpson DM, Zhou N, Ponsamuel J, Zhang Z.. Robust crop resistance to broadleaf and grass herbicides provided by aryloxyalkanoate dioxygenase transgenes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010;107: 20240–20245

Yin X, Zhang ZJ. Recent patents on plant transgenic technology. Recent Patents on Biotechnology 2010;4(2): 98-111.

Lu L, Wu X, Yin X, Morrand J, Chen X, Folk WR, Zhang ZJ. Development of marker-free transgenic sorghum [Sorgum bicolor (L.) Moench] using standard binary vectors as a selectable marker. Plant Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture 2009;99(1):97-108. (online)

Mitra A, Han J, Zhang Z, Mitra A. The intergenic region of Arabidopsis thaliana cab1 and cab2 divergent genes functions as a biodirectional promoter. Planta 2009

Mathieu M, Winters EK, Kong F, Wan J, Wang S, Eckert H, Luth D, Paz M, Donovan C, Zhang Z, Somers D, Wang K, Nguyen H, Shoemaker RC, Stacey G, Clemente T. Establishment of a soybean (Glycine max Merr. L) transposon-based mutagenesis repository. Planta 2009;229:279-89.

Vega JM, Yu W, Han F, Kato A, Peters EM, Zhang Z, Birchler JA. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of maize (Zea mays) with Cre-lox site specific recombination cassettes in BIBAC vectors. Plant Molecular Biology 2008;66:587-98.

Flores T, Karpova O, Su X, Zeng P, Bilyeu K, Sleper D, Nguyen H, Zhang Z. Silencing of GmFAD3 gene by siRNA leads to low α-linolenic acids (18:3) of fad3-mutant phenotype in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] Transgenic Research 2008;17:839-50.

Bilyeu KD, Zeng P, Coello P, Zhang Z, Krishnan HB, Beuselinck PR, Polacco JC. Conversion of seed phytate to utilizable phosphorus in soybean seeds expressing a bacterial phytase. Plant Physiology 2008;146:468-77.

Vega J, Yu W, Kennon A, Chen X, Zhang Z. Improvement of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation in Hi-II maize (Zea mays L.) using standard binary vectors. Plant Cell Reports 2008;27:297-305. 

Lee BK, Kim KH, Kim SL, Yu SH, Lee SC, Zhang Z, Kim MS, Park HM, Lee JY. Seed specific expression of perilla γ-tocopherol methyltransferase gene increases α-tocopherol content in transgenic perilla (Perilla frutescens). Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 2008; 92(1):47-54.

Lee BK, Jung TW, Ahn BO, Lee JY, Kennon A, Chen X, Zhang Z. Recovery of transgenic events from two highly recalcitrant maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes using Agrobacterium-mediated standard-binary-vector transformation. Maydica 2007;52:457-69.

Balaji B, Cawly J, Angel C, Zhang Z, Palanichelvam K, Cole A, Schoelz J. Silencing of the N family of resistance genes in Nicotiana edwardsonii compromises resistance to tombusviruses. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 2007;20:1262-70.

Lee BK, Yu SH, Kim YH, Hur HS, Chul Lee SC, Zhang Z, Lee JY. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt). Plant Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture 2005;83:51-58.

Zeng P, Vadnais D, Zhang Z, Polacco J. Refined glufosinate selection in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]. Plant Cell Reports 2004;22:478-482.

Paz M, Shou H, Guo Z, Zhang Z, Banerjee A, Wang K. Assessment of conditions affecting Agrobacterium-mediated soybean transformation using the cotyledonary node explant. Euphytica 2004;136:167-179.

Frame B, Shou H, Chikwamba R, Zhang Z, Xiang C, Fonger T, Pegg SE, Li B, Nettleton D, Pei D, Wang K. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of maize embryos using a standard binary vector system. Plant Physiology 2002;129:13-22.

Zhang Z, Guo Z, Shou H, Pegg SE, Clemente TE, Staswick PE, Wang K. 2000. Assessment of conditions affecting Agrobacterium-mediated soybean transformation and routine recovery of transgenic soybean. In: Plant Genetic Engineering: Toward the Third Millennium, A.D. Arenciba (ed), Elsevier Science B.V. (Amsterdam), pp88-94.

Zhang Z, Xing A, Staswick P, Clemente TE. The use of glufosinate as a selective agent in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of soybean. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult. 1999. 56:37–46.

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