Tiancong Qi

Ph.D., 2011, Tsinghua University, China

Berkeley host: Professor Brian Staskawicz

Research Summary

My previous research focused mainly on the molecular action of the phytohormone jasmonate (JA) and its crosstalk with other hormones, which control diverse aspects of plant development, growth, and defense, including anthocyanin accumulation, trichome initiation, stamen development, root growth, senescence, and defense to insects and pathogens. However, the molecular mechanisms for JA remain to be elucidated. Our studies found that JA ZIM-domain proteins (JAZ), the key repressors in JA signaling pathway, interact with and repress various transcription factors, including bHLH factors and R2R3-MYB transcription factors, to control different aspects of JA-mediated responses, and demonstrated that JA and gibberellin function synergistically to regulate trichome initiation, while JA and ethylene antagonistically regulate apical hook formation and defense to generalist herbivores.

Now, I am studying plant innate immunity. Pathogens employ pathogen-specific effectors to cause disease, whereas plants have evolved multiple types of nucleotide-binding/leucine-rich-repeat (NLR) receptors that intercept pathogen effectors and initiate plant immunity. I am very interested in isolating novel components in plant-microbe interaction by combined technologies of biochemistry, physiology, and genetics.

Impact in China

Phytopathogens can cause severe plant diseases and a great loss of crop production, which would lead to starvation or even famines. China is a large agricultural country with the largest population in the world. The Chinese government pays much attention to food security, and provides increasing funds to support fundamental research in plant pathology. By working with the world’s leading biologists in plant-microbe interaction and utilizing the most advanced technologies at UC Berkeley, I hope I can contribute to understanding plant immunity and help to advance the plant immunity field in China with what I have learned.


Qi T, Seong K, ThomazellaD, Kim JR, Pham J, Seo E, Cho MJ, Schultink A and Staskawicz B. NRG1 functions downstream of EDS1 to regulate TIR-NLR-mediated plant immunity in Nicotiana benthamiana. 2018. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1814856115.

Schultink A, Qi T, Bally J, Staskawicz B. Using forward genetics in Nicotiana benthamiana to uncover the immune signaling pathway mediating recognition of the Xanthomonas perforans effector XopJ4.New Phytol. 2018. doi: 10.1111/nph.15411.

Gao H, Yang M, Yang H, Qin Y, Zhu B, Xu G, Xie C, Wu D, Zhang X, Li W, Yan J, Song S, Qi T*, Ding SW*, Xie D*. Arabidopsis ENOR3 regulates RNAi-mediated antiviral defense. Journal of Genetics and Genomics. 2018,45(1):33-40.

Schultink A, Qi T, Lee A, Steinbrenner AD, Staskawicz B. Roq1 mediates recognition of the Xanthomonas and Pseudomonas effector proteins XopQ and HopQ1. Plant J. 2017. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13715.

Song S, Huang H, Wang J, Liu B, Qi T*, Xie D*. MYC5 is Involved in Jasmonate-Regulated Plant Growth, Leaf Senescence and Defense Responses. Plant Cell Physiol. 2017, 58(10):1752-1763.

Qi T, Liu Z, Fan M, Chen Y, Tian H, Wu D, Gao H, Ren C, Song S, Xie D. GDP-D-mannose epimerase regulates male gametophyte development, plant growth and leaf senescence in Arabidopsis. Sci Rep. 2017, 7(1):10309.

Zhu B, Gao H, Xu G, Wu D, Song S, Jiang H, Zhu S, Qi T*, Xie D*. Arabidopsis ALA1 and ALA2 Mediate RNAi-Based Antiviral Immunity. Front Plant Sci. 2017, 8:422.

Wu D*, Qi T*, Li WX, Tian H, Gao H, Wang J, Ge J, Yao R, Ren C, Wang XB, Liu Y, Kang L, Ding SW, Xie D. Viral effector protein manipulates host hormone signaling to attract insect vectors. Cell Res. 2017, 27(3):402-415.

Qi T*, Wang J*, Huang H, Liu B, Gao H, Liu Y, Song S, Xie D. Regulation of Jasmonate-induced leaf senescence by the antagonistic interaction of bHLH subgroup IIIe and IIId Factors in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2015, 27(6):1634-49.

Qi T*, Huang H*, Song S, Xie D. Control of Jasmonate-regulated stamen development and seed production by a bHLH-MYB complex in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2015, 27(6):1620-33.

Qi T*, Huang H*, Wu D, Yan J, Qi Y, Song S, Xie D. Arabidopsis DELLA and JAZ proteins bind the WD-repeat/bHLH/MYB complex to modulate gibberellin and jasmonate signaling synergy. Plant Cell, 2014, 26(3):1118-33.

Song S, Huang H, Gao H, Wang J, Wu D, Liu X, Yang S, Zhai Q, Li C, Qi T*, Xie D*. Interaction between MYC2 and ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE3 modulates antagonism between jasmonate and ethylene signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2014, 26(1):263-279.

Song S*, Qi T*, Fan M, Zhang X, Huang H, Gao H, Wu D, Guo H, Xie D. The bHLH subgroup IIId factors negatively regulate jasmonate-mediated plant defense and development. PLoS Genetics, 2013,9(7): e1003653.

Qi T*, Song S*, Ren Q*, Wu D, Huang H, Chen Y, Fan M, Peng W, Ren C, Xie D. The Jasmonate-ZIM-domain proteins interact with the WD-repeat/bHLH/MYB complexes to regulate jasmonate-mediated anthocyanin accumulation and trichome initiation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell, 2011, 23(5):1795-814.

Song S*, Qi T*, Huang H, Ren Q, Wu D, Chang C, Peng W, Liu Y, Peng J, Xie D. The Jasmonate-ZIM domain proteins interact with the R2R3-MYB transcription factors MYB21 and MYB24 to affect jasmonate-regulated stamen development in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2011, 23(3):1000-1013.

[*Co-first author or co-corresponding author]