Lirong Zeng – PhD

Assistant Professor






  • Office Location: FH 409
  • Phone: 501-569-3502
  • Fax: 501-569-3271
  • Email:


  • Ph.D. (Molecular Plant Pathology) Ohio State University (Supervisor: Dr. Guo-Liang Wang)
  • M.S. (Biochemistry) Zhongshan University, China (Superviors: Prof. Zhe-fu Lin and Prof. Er-Xian Zhang)


Professional Training

  • Postdoc, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University (Supervisor: Dr. Gregory B. Martin)


Teaching Interests

  • Techniques in Molecular Biology
  • General Plant Health and Protection
  • Molecular Medical Virology
  • Plant Genomics
  • Proteomics

Research interests

My research focuses on the identification and characterization of genes and signal transduction pathways involved in plant immunity against microbial pathogens, particularly the roles and molecular mechanism by which the ubiquitination system regulates host defense responses in plants. Given that plant immunity is inextricably connected to plant development and environmental factors, my research also involves understanding the signaling crosstalk that orchestrates plant responses to different intrinsic and extrinsic signals. The long-term goal of our research is to elucidate and eventually manipulate for crop improvement the key molecular mechanisms that plants use to defend themselves against different biotic and abiotic stresses. To this end, a combination of cellular, molecular, biochemical, genetic, genomic and proteomic approaches will be employed to address relevant questions.

Current Research Support

  1. National Science Foundation (NSF), Integrative Organismal Systems Program
  2. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Biology of Agricultural Plants Program


PubMed comprises more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. Search here for faculty publications.


Li, W., Ahn, I. P., Ning, Y., Park, C. H., Zeng, L., Whitehill, J., Lu, H., Zhao, Q., Ding, B., et al. (2012). The U-box/ARM E3 ligase PUB13 regulates cell death, defense and flowering time in Arabidopsis1. Plant Physiol 159, 239-250.

Zeng, L., Velásquez, A. C., Munkvold, K. R., Zhang, J. and Martin, G. B. (2011). A tomato LysM receptor-like kinase promotes immunity and its kinase activity is inhibited by AvrPtoB. Plant J 69, 92-103.

Nguyen, H.P.*, Chakravarthy, S.*, Velásquez, A.C., McLane, H.L., Zeng, L., Nakayashiki, H., Park, D.-H., Collmer, A.,  and Martin, G.B. (2010). Methods to study PAMP-triggered immunity using tomato and Nicotiana benthamiana. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 23(8), 991-999. (*co-first authors)

Shirsekar, G., Dai, L., Hu, Y., Wang, X., Zeng, L. and Wang, G. -L. (2010). Role of Ubiquitination in Plant Innate Immunity and Pathogen Virulence. Journal of Plant Biology 53 (1): 10-18.

Zeng, L.*, Park, C.H.*, Venu, R.C., Gough, J. and Wang, G.L. (2008). Classification, Expression pattern, and E3 ligase activity assay of Rice U-box-containing proteins.  Mol. Plant 1(5): 800-815 (*co-first authors).

Vega-Sánchez, M.E.*, Zeng, L.*, Chen, S., Leung, H., and Wang, G.L. (2008). SPIN1, a K homology domain protein negatively regulated and ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase SPL11, is involved in flowering time control in rice. Plant Cell 20(6): 1456-1469. (*co-first authors).

Rosebrock, T.R., Zeng, L., Brady, J.J., Abramovitch, R.B., Xiao, F., and Martin, G.B. (2007). A bacterial E3 ubiquitin ligase targets a host protein kinase to disrupt plant immunity. Nature 448 (7151): 370-374.

Chen, S., Tao, L., Zeng, L., Vega-Sánchez, M.E., Umemura, K., and Wang, G.L. (2006). A highly efficient transient protoplast system for analyzing defence gene expression and protein-protein interactions in rice. Mol. Plant Pathol. 7, 417-427.

Zeng, L., Vega-Sánchez, M.E., Zhu, T., and Wang, G.L. (2006). Ubiquitination-mediated protein degradation and modification: an emerging theme in plant-microbe interactions. Cell Res. 16(5): 413-426.

Qu, S., Liu, G., Zhou, B., Bellizzi, M., Zeng, L., Dai, L., Han, B., and Wang, G.L. (2006). The broad-spectrum blast resistance gene Pi9 encodes a nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeat protein and is a member of a multigene family in rice. Genetics 172(3): 1901-1914.

Zeng, L., Qu, S., Bordeos, A., Yang, C., Baraoidan, M., Yan, H., Xie, Q., Nahm, B.H., Leung, H., and Wang, G.L. (2004). Spotted leaf11, a negative regulator of plant cell death and defense, encodes a U-box/armadillo repeat protein endowed with E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. Plant Cell 16(10): 2795-2808.

Wang, G.L., Wu, C., Zeng, L., He, C., Baraoidan, M., de Assis Goes da Silva, F., Williams, C.E., Ronald, P.C., and Leung, H. (2004). Isolation and characterization of rice mutants compromised in Xa21-mediated resistance to X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Theor. Appl. Genet. 108(3): 379-384.

Liu, G., Qu, S., Zhou, B., Zeng, L., and Wang, G.L. (2004). Broad-spectrum resistance genes Pi2(t) and Pi9(t) are clustered on chromosome 6. in Proceedings of the 3rd International Rice Blast Conference Rice Blast: Interaction with Rice and Control (ed. Kawasaki, S.), pp. 79-86. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Zeng, L., Yin, Z., Chen, J., Leung, H., and Wang, G.L. (2002). Fine genetic mapping and physical delimitation of the lesion mimic gene Spl11 to a 160-kb DNA segment of the rice genome. Mol. Genet. Genomics 268(2): 253-261.

Liu, G., Lu, G., Zeng, L., and Wang, G.L. (2002). Two broad-spectrum blast resistance genes, Pi9(t) and Pi2(t), are physically linked on rice chromosome 6. Mol. Genet. Genomics 267(4): 472-480.

Yin, Z., Chen, J., Zeng, L., Goh, M., Leung, H., Khush, G.S., and Wang, G.L. (2000). Characterizing rice lesion mimic mutants and identifying a mutant with broad-spectrum resistance to rice blast and bacterial blight. Mol. Plant Microbe Interact. 13(8): 869-876.

Zeng, L., Zhang, E.X., Lin, Z., Yu, L., and Xiao, X. (1999). Studies on the stability of Cu, Zn-SOD in Grassostrea rivularis. J. Oceanography Taiwan Strait 18(1): 87-91.

Zeng, L., Zhang, E.X., Lin, Z., and Yu, L. (1998). Purification and Characterization of Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dismutase from Ostrea rivularis Gould. Chinese J. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 14(5): 583-588.

Zeng, L., Zhang, E.X. (1998). Edible and Medicinal Value of Ostrea and Its Exploitages. Chinese J. Nature 6: 322-325

He, J., Dai, J., Zhou, Y., Zhang, H., Liu, X., Ou, S., Zhou, M., Yang Y., Zeng, L. (1994). Theory of Ecological Heredity in Male sterility and two-line hybrid plants (II) General Procedures for the Selection of Ecological Male Sterile Wheat Lines Proc. Hunan Agricultural Univ.  5: 412-417.