Chao Wang

Ph.D., 2015, Huazhong Agricultural University, China

Berkeley host: Professor Sheng Luan

Research Summary

My PhD research focused mainly on the signal transduction mechanism underlying the legume–rhizobium symbiosis. I subsequently completed a 2-year postdoctoral training in the related area of plant–pathogen interactions. Both of them involve plant-microbe interaction. My future research will be focused on plant–microbe interactions in the rhizosphere, specifically the molecular mechanisms regulating the signaling pathways between microbes and their hosts as influenced by the environments. I will plan on studying the signaling crosstalk between legume nodulation and plant responses to the soil nutrient status. Although the soil nutrient status reportedly affects the legume–rhizobium interaction and nodulation, the underlying mechanism has not been comprehensively characterized. I will therefore investigate the molecular mechanism mediating how plants can simultaneously sense soil nutrients and rhizobia to decide how many nodules should be formed under a constantly changing soil nutrient status. This study may be particularly important in terms of climate change as well as agricultural and environmental sustainability.

Impact in China

Legumes have evolved a unique mechanism for obtaining their N, which involves a symbiotic relationship with N-fixing rhizobia. This symbiosis greatly decreases or eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers, and has led to the wide deployment of legumes in crop rotations throughout the world, including China. Legume crops, such as common bean and soybean, are also important sources of proteins and lipids for humans and livestock. However, overused fertilizer and diverse soil nutrient status in China largely affect the ability of legume nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Therefore, characterizing and improving the legume–rhizobium symbiosis in response to diverse soil nutrients will contribute to sustainable agriculture and clean environments in the context of an increasing population in China.


  1. Tian W*Wang C*, Gao Q, Li L, Luan S (2020). Calcium spikes, waves, and oscillations in plant development and biotic interactions. Nature Plants. 6, 750-759
  2. Tang R-J, Wang C, Li K, Luan S (2020) The CBL–CIPK Calcium Signaling Network: Unified Paradigm from 20 Years of Discoveries. Trends Plant Sci 25, 604-617.
  3. Tang R-J, Zhao F-G, Yang Y, Wang C, Li K, Kleist TJ, Lemaux PG, Luan S (2020) A calcium signalling network activates vacuolar K+ remobilization to enable plant adaptation to low-K environments. Nature Plants6, 384-393
  4. Tang R-J, Luan M, Wang C, Lhamo D, Yang Y, Zhao F-G, Lan W-Z, Fu A-G, Luan S (2020) Plant Membrane Transport Research in the Post-genomic Era. Plant Communications 1 (1):100013.
  5. Yu H*Wang C*, Cai L, Huang B, Zhang Z. Functional dissection of Medicago truncatula NODULES WITH ACTIVATED DEFENSE 1 in maintenance of rhizobial endosymbiosis (in press). The Model Legume Medicago Truncatula, chapter 9.2.4.
  6. Tian W*, Hou C*, Ren Z*Wang C*, Zhao F, Dahlbeck D, Hu S, Zhang L, Niu Q, Li L, Staskawicz B. J, Luan S (2019). A calmodulin-gated calcium channel links pathogen patterns to plant immunity. Nature 572(7767): 131-135 (2019).
  7. Yu H, Xiao A, Dong R, Fan Y, Zhang X, Liu C, Wang C, Zhu H, Duanmu D, Cao Y, Zhang Z. Suppression of innate immunity mediated by the CDPK-Rboh complex is required for rhizobial colonization in Medicago truncatula nodules. The New Phytologist 2018, 220(2), 425-434.
  8. Wang C*, Wang G*, Zhang C, Zhu P, Dai H, He Z, Xu L, Wang E (2017) OsCERK1-mediated chitin perception and immune signaling requires Receptor-like Cytoplasmic Kinase185 to activate an MAPK cascade in rice. Molecular Plant 2017; 10:619-633.
  9. Jin Y, Liu H, Luo D, Yu N, Dong W, Wang C, Zhang X, Dai H, Yang J, Wang E (2016) DELLA proteins are common components of symbiotic rhizobial and mycorrhizal signaling pathways. Nature Communications 7: 12433.
  10. Wang C, Wang E (2016) Arabidopsis farms Colletotrichum tofieldiae for phosphate uptake. Molecular Plant 9: 953-955.
  11. Wang C, Yu H, Luo L, Duan L, Cai L, He X, Wen J, Mysore KS, Li G, Xiao A, Duanmu D, Cao Y, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2016) NODULES WITH ACTIVATED DEFENSE 1 is required for maintenance of rhizobial endosymbiosis in Medicago truncatulaThe New Phytologist 212: 176-191.
  12. Wang C, Yu H, Zhang Z, Yu L, Xu X, Hong Z, Luo L (2015) Phytosulfokine is involved in positive regulation of Lotus japonicus Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions: MPMI 28: 847-855.
  13. Wang C*, Zhu M*, Duan L, Yu H, Chang X, Li L, Kang H, Feng Y, Zhu H, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2015) Lotus japonicus clathrin heavy chain1 is associated with Rho-Like GTPase ROP6 and involved in nodule formation. Plant Physiology 167: 1497-1510.
  14. Wang C, Xu X, Hong Z, Feng Y, Zhang Z (2015) Involvement of ROP6 and clathrin in nodulation factor signaling. Plant Signaling & Behavior 10: e1033127.
  15. Kang H, Chu X, Wang C, Xiao A, Zhu H, Yuan S, Yang Z, Ke D, Xiao S, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2014) A MYB coiled-coil transcription factor interacts with NSP2 and is involved in nodulation in Lotus japonicusThe New Phytologist 201: 837-849.
  16. Wang C*, Zhu H*, Jin L, Chen T, Wang L, Kang H, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2013) Splice variants of the SIP1 transcripts play a role in nodule organogenesis in Lotus japonicus. Plant Molecular Biology 82: 97-111.
  17. Chen T, Zhu H, Ke D, Cai K, Wang C, Gou H, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2012) A MAP kinase kinase interacts with SymRK and regulates nodule organogenesis in Lotus japonicusThe Plant Cell 24: 823-838.
  18. Kang H, Zhu H, Chu X, Yang Z, Yuan S, Yu D, Wang C, Hong Z, Zhang Z (2011) A novel interaction between CCaMK and a protein containing the Scythe_N ubiquitin-like domain in Lotus japonicusPlant Physiology 155: 1312-1324.

* co-first author