Ru Zhang, PhD

Assistant Member
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Honorary Adjunct Professor

Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program
Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program

  • 314 587-1451

  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 North Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63132



  • Photosynthesis, heat stress, green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, C4 plant Setaria viridis

  • Understand how photosynthesis and photosynthetic cells respond to high temperatures and what factors limit heat acclimation by using both green algae and land plants as models

Research Abstract:

Photosynthesis is essential for agricultural production but it is one of the most heat-sensitive processes in plants. Heat stress decreases photosynthetic rates, jeopardizes plant growth, reduces crop yields, and hinders biofuel production. This problem will only become exacerbated as global warming progresses. Despite this, the mechanisms how photosynthetic cells regulate heat responses remain poorly understood. To engineer heat-tolerant crops and algae for food and biofuel, a thorough understanding of how plant cells perceive and respond to heat stress is required. My laboratory currently has two projects listed below.

Project 1. Interrogate the functional genomic landscape of heat sensing and regulation in photosynthetic cells by using a genome-saturating, mapped, indexed, algal mutant library and a quantitative phenotyping tool.

Project 2. Explore the regulation of photosynthesis in C4 crops (e.g. maize) under high temperatures by using C4 model plant Setaria viridis.

Selected Publications:

Zhang R, Nowack ECM, Price DC, Bhattacharya D, Grossman AR (2016) Impact of light intensity and quality on chromatophore and nuclear gene expression in Paulinella chromatophora, an amoeba with nascent photosynthetic organelles. The Plant Journal,90: 221–234.

Li X§, Zhang R§, Patena W§, Gang SS, Blum SR, Ivanova N, Yue R, Robertson JM, Lefebvre P, Fitz-Gibbon ST, Grossman AR & Jonikas MC (2016) An indexed, mapped mutant library enables reverse genetics studies of biological processes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The Plant Cell 28: 367-387. (§ Equal contribution)

Zhang R, Roose JL, Williams M (2015) Light reactions of photosynthesis. Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. The Plant Cell (online), doi/10.1105/tpc.115.tt0515.

Zhang R§, Patena W§, Armbruster U, Gang SS, Blum SR, Jonikas MC (2014) High-throughput genotyping of green algal mutants reveals random distribution of mutagenic insertion sites and endonucleolytic cleavage of transforming DNA. The Plant Cell 26, 1398-1409. (§ Equal contribution)

Zhang R, Kramer DM, Cruz JA, Struck KR, Sharkey TD (2011) The effects of moderately high temperature on zeaxanthin accumulation and decay. Photosynthesis Research 108,171-181 (Undergraduate mentee)

Zhang R, Wise RR, Struck KR, Sharkey TD (2010) Moderate heat stress of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves causes chloroplast swelling and plastoglobule formation. Photosynthesis Research 105, 123-134 (Undergraduate mentee)

Sharkey TD, Zhang R (2010) High temperature effects on electron and proton circuits of photosynthesis. Invited Expert Review: Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 52, 712-722

Zhang R, Cruz JA, Kramer DM, Magallanes-Lundback ME, DellaPenna D, Sharkey TD (2009) Moderate heat stress reduces the pH component of the transthylakoid proton motive force in light-adapted, intact tobacco leaves. Plant, Cell and Environment 32, 1538-1547

Zhang R, Sharkey TD (2009) Photosynthetic electron transport and proton flux under moderate heat stress. Photosynthesis Research 100, 29–43

Last Updated: 1/12/2018 12:14:02 PM

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