Recognizing Plant Physiology author Zhaoxia Li

Zhaoxia Li (李朝霞), first author of  “Daily temperature cycles promote alternative splicing of RNAs encoding SR45a, a splicing regulator 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 alternative splicing in maize, and its relationship to other abiotic stresses, such as heat stress. Alternative splicing is activated by increased maximum daily temperature, especially the splicing factors involved in RNA processing. We developed an “in protoplast” RNA splicing system and in using it, the capability of a splicing regulator, SR45a RNA isoforms and the characteristics of the target RNA substrates were analyzed. In my work, I have uncovered that with rising temperatures on hot summer days, SR45a RNA isoforms in maize are produced with the capability to encode proteins with greater RNA splicing potential.