Plant Physiology Spotlights April and May 2023 First Authors

In April and May, we published many innovative manuscripts in Plant Physiology. Behind those manuscripts are researchers, professors, professionals and students dedicated to advancing the field of plant science. You’ve seen our First Authors on Facebook and Twitter — now, read more about why they chose to pursue plant sciences and click on the links below to read their articles.


Keunsub Lee

Keunsub Lee is the First Author of New T-DNA binary vectors with NptII selection and RUBY reporter for efficient maize transformation and targeted mutagenesis published 18 April 2023. Lee is currently a Research Scientist IV and Adjunct Assistant Professor, and holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biological Sciences from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Growing up on a farm is what initially made Lee interested in plants and animals. Research interests include developing enabling technologies for plant genetic transformation and gene editing. Personal interests include cooking.



Guanglian Liao

Guanglian Liao is the First Author of L-Ascorbic acid metabolism and regulation in fruit crops, published 19 April 2023. Thinking about industrial problems inspires this first author in scientific research. Liao is employed by the National Key Laboratory for Germplasm Innovation & Utilization of Horticultural Crops Huazhong Agr University in Wuhan, China. Liao holds a Postdoctoral degree from Huazhong Agricultural University.Research interests include genetic improvement of fruit quality. Personal interests include photography.



Jessica Trinh

Jessica Trinh is a First Author of Variation in microbial feature perception in the Rutaceae family with immune receptor conservation in citrus published 5 May 2023. Trinh is a Graduate Student Researcher who started graduate school at UC Riverside in Dr. Wenbo Ma’s lab, before transferring to UC Davis in 2020 to work for Dr. Gitta Coaker. Trinh became interested in plant sciences after realizing many people take for granted the services that both plants and microbes provide. In order to take care of our growing world, Trinh believes we need more people who are interested in taking care of the plants that support us. Plants have very unique characteristics that set them apart from studying animals and humans, and there is a lot to learn from them.

Trinh also works as a Research Assistant at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, CA. At UC Berkeley, Trinh focused on plant-microbe interactions research. Research interests include plant-microbe interactions, microbial evolution, and the evolution of microbial features in bacterial vector-borne plant pathogens. Personal interests include sewing, digital art, and outreach like visiting local high schools and farmer’s markets to show others about the wonderful research that is being done at UC Davis to help younger audiences see themselves as scientists.

Tianrun “Jerry” Li

Tianrun “Jerry” Li is a First Author of Variation in microbial feature perception in the Rutaceae family with immune receptor conservation in citrus published 5 May 2023. Li is currently a Graduate Student Researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis.

Li obtained a Bachelor of Agriculture from Northwest A&F University in China in 2019.  Li became fascinated by how plants interact with the pathogens at a molecular level during undergraduate education. Research interests include pattern recognition receptors in Citrus and other crop plants and how PRR triggered immunity is involved in host defense against Liberibacter pathogens and insect vectors. Personal interests include flying drones, capturing the beauty of nature with cameras, and traditional Chinese music and culture — Li has served as photographer and videographer for the Davis Chinese Orchestra.

Marlies Wouters

Marlies Wouters is the First Author of Suppression of the Arabidopsis cinnamoyl-CoA reductase 1-6 intronic T-DNA mutation by epigenetic modification published 4 May 2023. Wouters holds a Ph.D. from VIB-UGent in Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Wouters has always been fascinated by the beauty that is the germination of a seed and its flourishing to mature plant, and always wanted to know about the molecular processes behind those.This first author did their doctoral research in the Bio-energy and Bio-aromatics group of Prof. Wout Boerjan at VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology. In 2018, Wouters earned a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from the University of Ghent, Belgium. Research interests include fundamental and applied research that enable innovative solutions in the field of plant biotechnology to mitigate climate change and contribute to a more sustainable agriculture. Personal interests include admiring art at museums, watching movies at the cinema, and working out.

Yuzhou Yang

Yuzhou Yang is the First Author of Transcription factor bZIP52 modulates Arabidopsis seed oil biosynthesis through interaction with WRINKLED1 published 6 May 2023. Yang is a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Sciences and holds a Bachelor in Science from Nanyang Technological University. Research interests include plants, with a focus on transcriptional regulation of plant oil biosynthesis. Personal interests include cats and music. Initially drawn to the potential of translational research on plants for human needs like food security, sustainable biofuel and so forth, Yang now marvels at plants for the life of their own.

David Ušák

David Ušák is the First Author of Callose synthesis at the center point of plant development – an evolutionary insight published 11 May 2023. Curious how plants have managed to survive and thrive in the biosphere for so long despite being the organismal underdogs (at least to human perception), Ušák’s research focus became how plants evolved so many distinct mechanisms to survive. Currently, Ušák is PhD student at the Laboratory of Integrative Structural Biology, IEB CAS, Czechia. Ušák  earned a  MS  of Experimental Plant Biology at Charles University Prague and a BS of Biotechnology and Gene Engineering at Palacký University Olomouc. Research interests include the evolution of plant cytokinesis and the molecular players involved in the cell plate development. Personal interests include cooking, hiking, and playing bass guitar.


Patrycja Haniewicz

Patrycja Haniewicz is the First Author of Bicarbonate Activation of Monomeric Photosystem II-PsbS/Psb27 Complex published 18 May 2023. Haniewicz is a Postdoctoral Scientist at the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences. Haniewicz holds a Ph.D. degree in Biology Sciences from the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology/International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, Poland; an MS degree in Biotechnology from the Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Poland/ Institute of biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Science, in Warsaw Poland; and a BS degree in Biology from the Faculty of Biology at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Research interests include Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Botany, Biotechnology, Biophysics. Personal interests include touring the world, cooking, and plants. “Understanding the world around me has always been my goal, and since I love plants it was an obvious direction of interest.”

Kaijie Zhu

Kaijie Zhu is a First Author of Transcription factor CsMADS3 coordinately regulates chlorophyll and carotenoid pools in Citrus hesperidium published 24 May 2023. Zhu was born into a family of fruit farmers and is very interested in plants, especially fruit trees. Zhu currently works at the National Key Lab for Germplasm Innovation and Utilization of Horticultural Crops, Huazhong Agricultural University as a Postdoc. Zhu also holds a Ph.D. Research interests include citrus, carotenoid, chlorophyll, fruit ripening, and transcriptional coordination. Personal interests include reading, traveling, and swimming.

Hongyan Chen

Hongyan Chen is a First Author of Transcription factor CsMADS3 coordinately regulates chlorophyll and carotenoid pools in Citrus hesperidium published 24 May 2023. Carotenoids, which contribute a variety of colors to nature, are the predominant pigments in citrus fruits, and the abundant pigment mutants and natural populations of citrus attracted this first author to explore the mystery. Chen is a current PhD student at Huazhong Agricultural University. Chen also attended Huazhong Agricultural University for a Master’s and Doctoral Continuing Education. Chen received a BS from Shandong Agricultural University. Research interests include molecular regulatory mechanisms of carotenoid metabolism in citrus. Personal interests include swimming.

Yalin Zhao

Yalin Zhao is the First Author of MADS-box protein PpDAM6 regulates chilling requirement-mediated dormancy and bud break in peach published 22 May 2023. A current PhD student, Zhao has studied at Zhengzhou Fruit Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Huazhong Agricultural University, since 2019. Research interests include dormancy control. Personal interests include playing basketball, running and singing. Zhao hopes to take more time on this domain and listen to the related reports to advance the scientific discipline.



Ren Yongbing

Ren Yongbing is the First Author of HEN1 SUPPRESSOR1 stabilizes Pol IV RNAs via uridylation in Arabidopsis published 22 May 2023. Yongbing holds a PhD degree and currently, is an Associate Research Fellow at Shenzhen university researching plant epigenetics.

Research interests include plant molecular biology, and personal interests include reading and writing.


Xuesong Zhou

Xuesong Zhou is the First Author of Carotenoid sequestration protein FIBRILLIN participates in CmOR-regulated β-carotene accumulation in melon, published 26 May 2023. Zhou is a Postdoctoral Research Associate, Plant Breeding and Genetics Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. Zhou holds a Ph.D. in Crop Genetics and Breeding from Nanjing Agricultural University. Zhou joined Prof. Wangzhen Guo’s laboratory at Nanjing Agricultural University as a Ph.D. graduate student in 2014 and received a joint-PhD training in Prof. Li Li’s laboratory at Cornell University from 2019 to 2022. Now, Zhou continues  research on carotenoids as a postdoctoral research associate under the supervision of Prof. Li Li and Prof. Michael Mazourek at Cornell University. The research is mainly focused on revealing the molecular mechanisms of carotenoid metabolism in horticultural crops. In this manuscript, Zhou and co-authors found that CmOR directly interacts with CmFBN1 to mediate CmFBN1 protein level and stimulate plastoglobule proliferation for carotenoid accumulation in chromoplasts of melon fruit.

Research interests include revealing the molecular mechanisms of carotenoid metabolism in horticultural crops, and changes in plant color. Personal interests include traveling and sports.

Samia Daldoul

Samia Daldoul  is the First Author of A Tunisian Wild Grape Leads to Metabolic Fingerprints of Salt Tolerance published 24 May 2023. Daldoul is currently an Assistant Professor at the Center of Biotechnology in Borj Cedria, Tunisia. Daldoul holds a PhD in Biological Sciences and Master of Sciences in Ecophysiology from the Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, University Tunis El Manar, Tunisia.  Research interests include grapevine functional genomics, plant gene function analysis and employing omics-based approaches. Personal interests include sports, camping and spending time with friends. Always fascinated by nature and plant biology, scientific discovery has been the primary motivating factor throughout Daldoul’s academic career as a plant scientist.

Feng Bei 

Feng Bei is the First Author of Natural Allelic Variation in GRAIN SIZE AND WEIGHT 3 of Wild Rice Regulates the Grain Size and Weight published 30 May 2023. Bei is currently a teacher at a Primary School in Chengdu. Bei has a Master’s Degree from South China Agricultural University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Chengdu Normal University. Research interests include grain size, gene cloning and functional research. Personal interests include reading and movies. Bei has been interested in plants since they were a child.




Dongmei Zhang

Dongmei Zhang is the First Author of Two interacting ethylene response factors negatively regulate peach resistance to Lasiodiplodia theobromae published 11 May 2023. Zhang is currently a Postdoc. Zhang earned a PhD in Fruit Science from Huazhong Agriculture University in Wuhan, China in 2021 and a B.A. in Horticulture from Southwest University, in Chongqing, China in 2014. Research interests include fruit trees, plant-microbe interactions, signaling crosstalk, and stress resistance. Personal interests include badminton and documentaries.

Zhang studies plant science because plants can not only provide abundant food for humans, animals and so on, but can also make us feel relaxed and happy at physical and mental levels. When Zhang was in college, they majored in Horticulture. Under the guidance of a teacher, this first author learned about a variety of plants with different leaf shapes, colors, and fragrances. They also took some professional courses, such as plant physiology, cultivation and breeding, and accessed more knowledge of plants. Different plants somehow had a way of presenting things in quite an interesting way, and Zhang feels that the kingdom of plants is a very interesting world, which inspires them to know more about our world.