Assistant Professor , Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Dr. Junqi Song joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas as an Assistant Professor in 2016. He received his PhD degree in Plant Molecular Biology from the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. From 2010 to 2016, he was a Research Scientist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied the role of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation during plant defense and DNA damage responses. Prior to this position, he was a Research Associate in the Department of Biology at Duke University. His studies focused on the mechanism of chromatin modification and transcription repression in the regulation of plant immune responses. Before he worked at Duke University, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Horticulture at UW-Madison and was one of the leading scientists in cloning the RB gene which confers broad spectrum resistance to the oomycete pathogen P. infestans. Throughout his career, his primary research focus has been to study how plants perceive and respond to microbial pathogens using a combination of molecular, genetic, biochemical, genomic and proteomic approaches. More specifically, he has been working on a wide range of pathogens including bacteria, oomycetes, fungal pathogens and nematodes in the crop plants potato, soybean and tomato, and in the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana. His long-term research goal is to elucidate the complex network of signal transduction and pathway interactions in plant defense responses. The knowledge generated from these studies will contribute to a better understanding of defense responses in crops, which should ultimately lead to the development of novel disease control strategies and improved crop production.
1. The functional interplay between DNA damage repair and plant immunity.
The plant immune and DNA damage responses are two ancient fundamental surveillance mechanisms. Although both responses have been well characterized separately, the relationship between them is largely unknown. Dr. Song’s group and others have identified multiple DNA damage proteins that play a key role in plant immune response. His future research will continue to investigate how DNA damage proteins regulate plant immune response and how the two responses are intricately interconnected.
2. The molecular basis of how poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation regulates immune responses
Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is a posttranslational modification of nuclear proteins catalyzed by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and plays a key role in DNA damage repair and other cellular processes in unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes. Recent findings indicate that poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is an important component of plant immunity and is a dynamic process that is tightly controlled and fine-tuned. A core component of his research program will identify the mechanisms through which poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation regulates plant immune and stress responses and discover new components and pathways with functional roles in plant immunity, in particular by identifying PARP targets and associated proteins and investigating the functional interplay of PARPs with their interactors. Future studies will also investigate how PARPs mutually modulate the expression of each other and elucidate the molecular mechanism by which PARPs and PARGs regulate various cellular responses, individually or in a concerted manner.
3. The molecular mechanism of plant-fungus/oomycete interactions
Fungal and oomycete pathogens are responsible for many devastating diseases in plants. For example, Phytophthora infestans is a destructive oomycete pathogen best known for causing Irish Potato Famine and remains the most costly potato pathogen to control worldwide. Two notorious fungal pathogens, Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, cause large patch and dollar spot in turfgrass, respectively. Genome sequence analysis has identified an array of effector proteins that are translocated into host cells to establish infection. The pathogenic mechanisms of the majority of these secreted effectors remain unknown. The aim of his research is to identify the virulence targets and mode of action of these effectors. Furthermore, his group is also interesting in identifying novel disease resistance genes and signaling components in Brachypodium which has been proven to be a powerful model plant. Increased understanding of the molecular basis of plant-pathogens interactions will facilitate development of sustainable management strategies against these destructive fungal pathogens in crops.
Dr. Junqi Song’s group is currently recruiting two postdoctoral researchers. http://GreatJobs.tamu.edu