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Maize Endosperm Development and Genetic Improvement Group  


Zhiyong Zhang

Position: PostDoc
Languages: English, Chinese

Advisors: Joachem Messing
 Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 190 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020


02016. 07-present, Postdoctoral fellow, Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers, New Jersey, USA

2013. 07-2016. 07, Research Assistant, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology, China


2008. 09-2013. 07, PhD in Genetics, Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
2005. 09-2008. 07, Master in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Fujian, China
2001. 09-2005. 07, Bachelor in Biotechnology, College of agriculture, Shanxi Agricultural University, Shanxi, China.





1. Molecular mechanism of maize embryo/endosperm development

2. Maize biotechnology


In the plant kingdom, maize is an excellent model crop to understand seed development and reserve synthesis. Like other flowering plants (angiosperms), maize seed development originates from double fertilization that the fusion of one sperm nucleus with the egg cell nucleus develops into the embryo and the fusion a sperm nucleus with two polar nuclei into the endosperm. After double fertilization, embryo and endosperm undergo the particular programming developing into the mature seed. Among the entire developing process, the synthesis of reserve compounds is critical for providing nutrients to the embryo development and germination. The primary reserve compounds in maize seeds are starch and protein, accounting for approximately 70% and 10% of weight respectively. The reserve accumulation undergoes the specifically temporal and spatial pattern, demonstrating that transcriptional regulation plays a core role in the expression of their synthetic genes. Since the year of 2013, I devoted to elucidating the regulatory mechanism of reserve synthesis, some novel findings have been published recently (Zhang et al., 2015; Zhang et al., 2016). In the light of the importance that the two reserve compounds also determine cereal yield and nutrition, we hope that these findings will provide the fundamental resource for seed research and crop breeding. In the future, I will continue to devote myself to the study of maize seed development and the exploration for improving crop quality by utilizing the newest biotechnologies



1. Li Q, Wang JC, Ye JW, Zheng XX, Xiang XX, Li CS, Fu MM, Wang Q, Zhang ZY and Wu YR*. The maize imprinted gene Floury3 encodes a PLATZ protein required for tRNA and 5S rRNA transcription through interaction with RNA polymerase III. Plant Cell, 2017, doi:10.1105/tpc.17.00576. 1.

2. Zhang ZY, Zheng XX, Yang J, Messing J*, & Wu YR* Maize endosperm-specific transcription factors O2 and PBF network the regulation of protein and starch synthesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2016, 113(39):10842-10847.

3. Liu HJ, Shi JP, Sun CL, Gong H, Fan XM, Qiu FZ, Huang XH, Feng Q, Zheng XX, Yuan NN, Li CS, Zhang ZY, Deng YT, Wang JC, Pan GT, Han B, Lai JS, Wu YR*. Gene duplication confers enhanced expression of 27-kDa γ-zein for endosperm modification in quality protein maize. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2016, 113(18): 4964-4969.

4. Zhang ZY, Yang J, Wu YR*. Transcriptional Regulation of Zein Gene Expression in Maize through the Additive and Synergistic Action of opaque2, Prolamine-Box Binding Factor, and O2 Heterodimerizing Proteins. Plant Cell, 2015, 27(4): 1162-1172.

5. Lu TT, Zhu CR, Lu GJ, Guo YL, Zhou Y, Zhang ZY, Zhao Y, Li WJ, Lu Y, Tang WH, Feng Q, Han B*. Strand-specific RNA-seq reveals widespread occurrence of novel cis-natural antisense transcripts in rice, BMC Genomics, 2012, 13(721): 1-14.

6. Tang X1, Zhang ZY1, Zhang WJ, Zhao XM, Li X, Zhang D, Liu QQ, Tang WH*. Global Gene Profiling of Laser-Captured Pollen Mother Cells Indicates Molecular Pathways and Gene Subfamilies Involved in Rice Meiosis. Plant Physiology, 2010, 154(4): 1855-1870. (1Co-first authors)