Plant Physiology Spotlights December First Authors

Behind the Plant Physiology 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.


Akiko Yoshihara

Akiko Yoshihara (she/her) is the First Author of Anionic lipids facilitate membrane development and protochlorophyllide biosynthesis in etioplasts published 14 November 2023. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at the Graduate School of Science, Osaka Metropolitan University. In 2023, she earned a MS of Biological Science from Osaka Prefecture University, and in  2021, a BS of Science from the same institution. Research interest include Lipids in plants and microalgae, Chlorophyll metabolism, Chloroplast formation, Plastid differentiation, and Photosynthesis. Personal interests include drawing, strolling, and eating.

Yoshihara’s interest in plants began in childhood and blossomed with a lab tour as a junior high student. These made her want to research by herself to know much more about plants.

Junjian Situ

Junjian Situ (he/his) is the First Author of Oomycete pathogen pectin acetylesterase targets host lipid transfer protein to reduce salicylic acid signaling published 01 December 2023. He is currently a Postdoc at South China Agricultural University. Situ completed his Ph.D in Phytopathology in 2019 from South China Agricultural University.  Research interests include molecular plant-microbe interactions. Personal interests include football and reading.



El-Hadji Malick Cisse

El-Hadji Malick Cisse (he/him) is the First Author of Dalbergia odorifera undergoes massive molecular shifts in response to waterlogging combined with salinity published 04 December 2023. Currently, he is a Postdoc at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service (USDA), Beltsville, United States. Education background includes a 2021 Ph.D in Ecophysiology at Hainan University, a 2015 MSc in Plant Sciences at UCAD, and a 2013 BSc in Life Sciences at UCAD. Research interests include Ecophysiology, Abiotic stress, Tree physiology, Plant-plant interactions, Metabolomic, and Transcriptomic.  Personal interests include Boxing, Bodybuilding, Basketball, Swimming, Cooking, Marvel, and Anime.

This First Author has been interested in plant science since high school because he believed that experimental Science would explain all the phenomena of the Universe. He read the French philosopher Auguste Comte in high school classes, who acknowledges that Science will explain all the phenomena of the Universe. At that time, El-Hadji chose to understand a small part of our planet: the Universe of plant organisms. And here he is, having a publication in Plant Physiology!

Yaoyu Chen

Yaoyu Chen (he/his) is the First Author of Two open reading frames of Rht-B1b acting as brake and throttle contributed to wheat Green Revolution published 05 December 2023.Chen is currently a PhD student at Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In 2019, he earned a 2019 MAg (Master of Agriculture) at Shanxi Agricultural University; in 2016 he earned a BA(Bachelor of Agriculture) at Shanxi Agricultural University. Research interests include Plant Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering. Personal interests include running and reading.

When asked what inspires this First Author to pursue plant sciences, Chen says:

“The world is full of differences, some places are bustling with high-rise buildings, some places are poor and inconvenient, but each has their own plants to provide a piece of greenery. Like sunlight, air and water, plants provide the greatest goodness to mankind. The biological process of wheat from germination to maturity, and the molecular process it contains, allows one to perceive the process of life in a meaningful way, and facilitates the harmony of body and mind with nature.”

Huanhuan Wang 

Huanhuan Wang is the First Author of  Two open reading frames of Rht-B1b acting as brake and throttle contributed to wheat Green Revolution published 05 December 2023. Wang is currently at Institute of Crop Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Research interests include plant metabolism and personal interests include running. Wang’s curiosity about life sciences began as a child, and developed into an interest in plant science. Wang is inspired by a junior high school biology teacher.



Lin-Hua Chen

Lin-Hua Chen is the First Author of Integrative multi-omics profiling of passion fruit reveals the genetic basis for fruit color and aroma published 01 December 2023. Currently, Chen is Ph.D candidate at Guangxi University. Education background includes a 2020 MSc in Neurobiology at South-Central Minzu University and a 2017 BSc in Traditional Chinese Medicine at Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine. Research interests are 1State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-bioresources.



Jie Dong

Jie Dong is the First Author of Immunophilin FKB20-2 is involved in oligomerization of Photosystem I in Chlamydomonas published 01 December 2023. Dong is a Graduate student at Northwestern University. Education background includes: 2022 BSc in Biology from Northwest University; 2018 B.Sc. from Henan Normal University. Research interests include studies on the photosynthetic mechanism of algae. Personal interests include music.

Dong often sees a variety of plants in daily life, such as sunflowers that grow towards the sun, mimosa that closes its leaves when touched, or leaves that turn yellow and fall to the ground as soon as autumn arrives. These natural phenomena all attracted Dong to want to explore the mysteries of plants, and so this First Author responded to curiosity by engaging in plant-related research.

Qiang Yao

Qiang Yao is the First Author of Immunophilin FKB20-2 is involved in oligomerization of Photosystem I in Chlamydomonas published 01 December 2023. Currently a graduate student, Yao is at Northwest University studying Biotechnology and Engineering. Yao also graduated Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine in 2022 with a Biotechnology Bachelor of Science. Research interests include  photosynthetic mechanisms of algae and personal interests include playing basketball. Through the scientific research of plants, it can help human beings to understand the natural ecosystem more clearly and contribute to the harmonious coexistence of human beings and nature.

Valentín Luna-García

Valentín Luna-García (he) is the First Author of A high-resolution gene expression map of the medial and lateral domains of the gynoecium of Arabidopsis published 13 December 2023. Currently a PhD student, Luna-García also earned an MSc in Plant Biotechnology in 2017 and a BSc in Biotechnology in 2015. His research interests include regulatory mechanisms involved in flower and fruit development in Arabidopsis. Personal interests include traveling, reading, teaching, foodie and sports. He loves plant science because plants are the source of resources for humans. They give us everything to be able to live, and what better way to protect this form of life, than knowing what allows them to live.

Caiqiong Yang

Caiqiong Yang(she/her) is the First Author of OXIDOSQUALENE CYCLASE 1 and 2 influence triterpene biosynthesis and defense in Nicotiana attenuata  published 15 December 2023. Currently, Yang is a Doctoral student at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. In 2019, Yang earned a MSc in Crop Cultivation and Farming System at Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, China. In 2016, she earned a BSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine Cultivation and Identification at Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, China. Research interests include  Plant-pathogen interactions, Biotic and abiotic stress, Chromatographic analysis, Metabolic pathway elucidation, and more. Personal interests include Hiking, Running, Traveling and Singing.

Yang initially became interested in plant science out of curiosity about medicinal plants. She wanted to learn more about various unique plants and their value. Subsequently, she delved into chemical ecology, which opened the door to a new world, deepening her interest in the remarkable survival strategies of plants.

Yan Cao

Yan Cao (he/his) is the First Author of Molecular characterization and functional analyses of the maize phytochrome A photoreceptors published 18 December 2023. Currently, Cao is a Ph.D. candidate at China Agricultural University. He earned a Master of Engineering from Henan Agricultural University in 2020, and Bachelor of Engineering from Tianjin University in 2016. Research interests include The molecular mechanisms underlying maize responses to shade signals. Personal interests include music and writing.

Cao’s Ph.D supervisor,. Professor Jigang Li, guided him to pursue biology throughout Cao’s research journey.

Yu Zhang

Yu Zhang is the First Author of GWAS identifies two important genes involved in Chinese chestnut weight and leaf length regulation published 19 December 2023. Zhang is a Ph.D candidate at Beijing Forestry University. In 2021, Zhang earned a Master’s degree in Pomology from Beijing University of Agriculture. In 2019, Zhang earned a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Hebei Agricultural University. Research interests include Plant population genetics, GWAS. Personal interests include Aerial photography.

In 2019, Zhang  joined Ling Qin’s Lab and formally carried out academic research under the guidance of Prof. Ling Qin and Yu Xing. Zhang is honored to carry out bioinformatics research under the guidance of Prof. Yi Zheng, which has been of great help. In 2021, Zhang joined the research group of Prof. Shuchai Su and Qian Bai to conduct plant genomics research. The precious and interesting plant materials aroused a strong interest, which inspired Zhang to discover the beauty of life.

Beibei Liu

Beibei Liu (she/her) is the First Author of Heritable changes of epialleles near genes in maize can be triggered in the absence of CHH methylation published December 18 2023. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). Education background includes a 2023 Ph.D in. Molecular and Structural Biology from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio, USA); a 2017 M.Sc in Applied Science from Saint Mary’s University (Nova Scotia, Canada); and a 2014  B.Sc. in Biotechnology from Shaanxi Normal University (Xi’an, China). Research interests include Transposable elements and DNA methylation. Personal interests include reading and running.

Liu became interested in plant science when she was first introduced to the stress response of Arabidopsis as an Undergraduate Student in Dr. Guang Wu’s Lab (Shaanxi Normal University). Liu then went to Dr. Genlou Sun’s lab to study the salt stress response of Barley (Saint Mary’s University, Canada). Looking back, she feels lucky to have both Dr. Wu and Dr. Sun as mentors. They provided valuable suggestions, unconditional support and, the most important thing, self-autonomy for a young researcher. In 2020, Liu joined Dr. Meixia Zhao’s Lab, and started her journey and passion about the interactions between DAN methylation and transposable elements in different plants. Liu is honored to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Zhao during these four years.

Diego Gómez Martínez

Diego Gómez Martínez (he/him) is the First Author of SVALKA-POLYCOMB REPRESSIVE COMPLEX2 module controls C-REPEAT BINDING FACTOR3 induction during cold acclimation published 20 December 2023. He is a Post-doc researcher at Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Madrid. Education backgrounds includes a 2019 Ph.D in Molecular genetics in plants in Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Margarita Salas; a 2014 MSc in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine in Universidad Complutense de Madrid; and a 2013 BSc in Biology in Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Research interests include Abiotic stress, long non-coding RNAs, DNA replication, and the Cell cycle. Personal interests include board games, trekking, and sports. Martínez loves plant science because he love plants and studying them makes him feel grateful.

Petar Mohorović  

Petar Mohorović (he/him) is the First Author of Ethylene inhibits photosynthesis via temporally distinct responses in tomato plants. He is currently a Research Volunteer at KU Leuven and seeking a full-time position. Mohorović‘s education includes a 2023 PhD in Bioscience Engineering at KU Leuven, a 2017 MSc in Molecular biology at University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science, and a 2014 BSc in Molecular biology at University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science. Research interests include Plant metabolism, molecular plant hormone physiology, plant molecular biology. Personal interests include creative writing, photography, music, movies, sports and recreation, and traveling.

“Plant science provides opportunities to study and utilize the adaptation mechanisms and resilience of plants to improve and advance agriculture, ultimately benefiting humanity”, says Petar.