Plant Physiology Spotlights August First Authors

In August, 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 Twitter  and Facebook— now, read more about why they chose to pursue plant sciences and click on the links below the pictures to read their articles.

Lirun Peng

Lirun Peng (she/her) is the First Author of Potassium transporter OsHAK18 mediates potassium and sodium circulation and sugar translocation in rice published 01 August 2023.  Peng is currently a PhD student in the College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, China. She previously earned a Master’s degree in 2018 from Nanjing Agricultural University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in 2015 from Nanjing Agricultural University. Research interests include plant nutrition. Personal interests include travel and movies.

Under the guidance of Prof. Ling Yu and Prof. Guohua Xu, Peng conducts research on rice molecular genetics of potassium efficiency utilization.


María Ángeles Peláez Vico

María Ángeles Peláez Vico (she/her) is the First Author of Rapid systemic responses of Arabidopsis to waterlogging stress published 03 August 2023. Currently, Vico is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, University of Missouri. She earned a PhD in Fundamental and Systems Biology in 2021 from the University of Granada-Spanish National Research Council (EEZ-CSIC; Granada, Spain). In 2015, she earned a MSc in Advances in Agricultural Biology from the University of Granada; and in 2014, Vico earned a BSc in Biology also from the University of Granada.

For her thesis dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Luisa Sandalio and Dr. María Romero Puertas (EEZ-CSIC, Granada, Spain) Vico studied the  peroxisomal-dependent signaling in the Arabidopsis response to abiotic stress. Currently, in Vico’s postdoctoral research in Dr. Ron Mittler lab, her projects are primarily focused on the investigation of systemic signals following stresses like waterlogging. Also, she is interested in understanding how plants respond to different environmental stresses occurring at the same time (multifactorial stress combination) in crops like soybean.

“I am grateful for the experiences and mentors that have helped get me to where I am today, and I hope to continue contributing to better understand life,” says Vico.

Personal interests include travelling, nature, music, art, sports, food.

Vico found most facets of life fascinating and started studying the rumen microbiota of goat kids during her degree. However, she completely changed my research topic in my MSc, focusing on the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis. Then, she realized that what happens inside plant cells is the most fascinating and intriguing!

Ana Rita Borba

Ana Rita Borba (she/her) is the First Author of Compartmentation of photosynthesis gene expression in C4 maize depends on time of day published 09 August 2023.

She is currently a Senior Scientist at Illumina. In 2019, Borba earned a PhD in Molecular Biology at New University of Lisbon. In 2011, she received a MSc in Molecular Genetics and Biomedicine at the New University of Lisbon, and in 2009, a BSc in Biology at University of Lisbon. Research interests include Plant transcriptional regulation, Evolution of C4 Photosynthesis. Personal interests include Lindy Hop Dancing and running.

The Azores – the place where she was born and raised – and all its greenery contributed to Borba’s interest in plant science.


Yanling Wang

Yanling Wang (she/her) is the First Author of Comprehensive dissection of meiotic DNA double-strand breaks and crossovers in cucumber published 02 August 2023.

Wang is currently a Postdoc at Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In 2017, Wang earned a Ph.D in Vegetable Science at Shenyang Agricultural University. In 2011, she earned a BSc in Horticulture at Shenyang Agricultural University. Research interests include meiotic recombination, multi-omics, microRNA, and ethylene. Personal interests include yoga, music, swimming, and traveling.

Wang’s scientific journey began in Prof. Tianlai Li’s Lab at Shenyang Agricultural University, where she conducted research on the discovery and molecular mechanisms of microRNAs involved in the regulation of tomato pedicel abscission. After completing her doctoral studies, she developed a strong interest in plant breeding and bioinformatics. Wang then joined Prof. Sanwen Huang’s group as a postdoctoral researcher to work on the multi-omic analysis of cucumber meiotic recombination. She hopes that this fundamental research will enhance our understanding of the factors influencing the formation of cucumber meiotic crossovers, and provide theoretical support for manipulating recombination events in plant breeding.

Sara Costantini

Sara Costantini (she/her) is the First Author of Berberine Bridge Enzyme-Like Oxidases of Cellodextrins and Mixed-Linked Β-Glucans Control Seed Coat Formation published 17 August 2023.

Currently, Costantini is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Sapienza, University of Rome. She earned a Ph.D in Cell Biology and Development in 2021. Research interests include Plant Physiology, Biotic Stress, Signaling, Cell Biology and Plant Immunity. Personal interests include cinema, music, sport, and drawing. Costantini became interested in plant research during her last years at university, in particular during her traineeship period abroad. Studying plant physiology may be the key to solving some of the emerging problems in several and different fields



Rohit Kumar

Rohit Kumar (He/Him) is the First Author Genetic Architecture of Source-Sink-Regulated Senescence in Maize published 18 August 2023. Kumar is currently a Postdoc at Clemson University. In 2016, he earned a Ph.D in Plant Biotechnology at National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in India. In 2009, he earned a MSc in Biotechnology at Panjab University Chandigarh and in 2007, Kumar earned a BSc in Biology at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. Research interests include understanding regulation of complex traits in plants, especially underlying nutrient utilization and abiotic stress tolerance. Personal interests include reading stories, listening to music, and running.

From childhood, plants amazed Kumar. Their diversity and adaptation made him fall in love with them and inspired him to be a Plant Biologist. His inspirations are Barbara McClintock, Dr. Monika Garg and Dr. Kakoli Biswas.


Yoshiaki Ueda 

Yoshiaki Ueda (he/him) is the First Author of Transcription factor module NLP–NIGT1 fine-tunes NITRATE TRANSPORTER2.1 expression published 18 August 2023.  Ueda is a Researcher at Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences. In 2015, he earned a Ph.D in Plant Nutrition at University of Bonn. In 2012, Ueda earned a MSc in Plant Biotechnology at The University of Tokyo, and in 2010 a BSc of Agriculture at The University of Tokyo. Research interests include plant nutrition and genomics. Personal interests include soft-tennis and traveling.

Ueda became interested in plant science while growing rice and vegetables at his home garden during school days.



Linkan Dash

Linkan Dash is the First Author of Changes in cell wall composition due to a pectin biosynthesis enzyme GAUT10 impact root growth published 22 August 2023. Dash is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Corteva Agriscience. He received his Ph.D. in Genetics at Iowa State University in 2023. Research interests include Plant development and bioinformatics. Personal interests include music.

Dash loves plant science because of its enormous potential to solve real-world problems such as food and energy security. Plant products have diverse applications, from the pharmaceutical to the cosmetics and automobile industries. Studying the molecular machineries that underpin these plant products can provide valuable information to engineer the plants more optimally. Dash’s Ph.D. mentor and advisor Dr. Dior Kelley inspired him the most to pursue plant science.


Zixin Zhang

Zixin Zhang (she/her) is a First Author of Flowering repressor CmSVP recruits the TOPLESS corepressor to control flowering in chrysanthemum published 30 August 2023.

She is currently an Associate  Professor at Sichuan University.

In 2019, Zhang earned a Ph.D in Ornamental Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University . In 2015, she earned a MSa in Olericulture at Hainan University, and in 2012, a BSa in Horticultural Science from Shandong Agricultural University. Research interests include flowering, plant metabolism, and fruit quality formation. Personal interests include travelling and playing badminton. Zhang’s professors, Prof. Jiafu Jiang and Fadi Chen, mentor her in her research.


Qian Hu

Qian Hu is a First Author of Flowering repressor CmSVP recruits the TOPLESS corepressor to control flowering in chrysanthemum published 30 August 2023. Currently, Hu is a Ph.D.candidate in the College of Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University. In 2013, Hu earned a BSa from Anhui Agricultural University. Research interests include flowering time, and personal interests include traveling. Pro. Jiafu Jiang and Fadi Chen inspire Hu in research.




Qingbiao Xie

Qingbiao Xie (he/his) is the First Author of Arabidopsis membrane protein AMAR1 interaction with type III effector XopAM triggers a hypersensitive response published 30 August 2023. Xie is currently a Postdoctor at Hainan University. In 2014, he earned a Ph.D from Hainan University and in 2010 a BE from Hainan University. Research interests include plant resistant proteins, NLRs, resistosome, nature rubber biosynthesis. Personal interests include basketball and music.

Since childhood, Xie has been living in the countryside, and has a great interest in those plants. After entering the university, he chose to major in plants and began his studies. The guidance of his graduate supervisor on plant research made Xie even more determined to engage in plant science research.