Recognizing Plant Cell authors: Zhaoxia Li

Zhaoxia Li, first author of The transcription factor bZIP60 links the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) to the Heat Stress Response (HSR) in maize

Current Position: Postdoctoral researcher, Plant Sciences Institute, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA

Education: BSc in Bioscience from Tangshan Normal College, PhD in Cell biology from Shandong University, China

Non-scientific Interests: traveling, cooking, raising cats

Brief Bio: I started my journey of scientific learning in 2003 when I joined the lab of Dr. Chao Chen at Tangshan Normal College, and where I finished my BSc in Bioscience. I was fascinated by the utility and power of plant sciences in agriculture and how they improved our life quality. Therefore, I joined the lab of Dr. Juren Zhang for my Ph.D. and studied how maize plants adapt to abiotic stresses.  I was especially interested in how some of the drought and low-phosphate stress genes could be genetically engineered to improve plant resistant to abiotic stress.  I moved to Dr. Stephen Howell’s lab in 2016 to pursue postdoctoral research. Here, I have been studying Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress in maize, and its relationship to other abiotic stresses, such as heat stress. ER stress is activated by misfolded proteins that accumulate in the ER under adverse environmental conditions. ER stress responses mitigate the damage caused by stress and confer levels of stress tolerance to plants. In my work, I have uncovered the contribution of ER stress to heat stress responses in maize.