Recognizing Plant Physiology authors: Hongchao Li

Hongchao Li, first author of Maize plant architecture is regulated by the ethylene biosynthetic gene ZmACS7

Current Position: Ph.D. student, National Maize Improvement Center, China Agricultural University

Education: Ph.D. student in Crop Genetics and Breeding and M.Sc. in Agricultural Extension at China Agricultural University in Beijing, China; B.Sc. in Seed Science and Engineering at Shandong Agricultural University in Taian, China

Non-scientific Interests: music, reading, fitness, & climbing mountains

Brief bio: I developed a keen interest in biology since high school, and had a more in-depth study in plant science during undergraduate period. Using maize (Zea mays L.) as a model system, I received training in plant genetics and molecular biology during my Master’s and Doctoral degrees. I mainly worked on gene cloning of a plant architecture mutant of maize, Semidwarf3 (Sdw3), under the direction of Dr. Weiwei Jin. By combining positional cloning approach, genetic transformation, biochemical assays with transcriptome sequencing, we found that a transposon alters the C terminus of ZmACS7, a rate-limiting enzyme in ethylene biosynthesis. This alteration enhances the stability of this protein and ethylene level, which in turn leads to phenotypic variations in Sdw3. Our study might contribute to improving maize plant architecture and increasing maize adaptation to higher plant density.