Gongyou Chen

Professor, Department of Resources and Environment, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Summary of my work

After the completion of my Tang Scholarship at Cornell University, I continue to focus my research on the Xanthomonas oryzae (a pathogenic bacterium to rice). Currently, I have three projects on “molecular determinants of pathogenicity of X. oryzae in rice”. X. oryzae causes severe bacterial diseases in rice in China. My research group is trying to develop novel control strategies to reduce the damage caused by plant diseases. These projects are tightly related to the research I participated in when in Prof. Alan Collmer’s lab. We share our research materials and molecular tools to strengthen our research capacity. Recently, my lab identified an important gene from Arabidopsis, Nicotiana benthamiana and rice, which is involved in elicitation of the hypersensitive response (HR). The HR is a programmed cell death associated with immunity activation in plants. We are the first to identify such a gene, and we are working with Dr. Collmer to gain more evidence on the function of this gene.

Impacts in China

My research is founded on basic life sciences. New conceptual knowledge, novel control measures for plant diseases, and new genes to trigger plant immunity from the X. oryzae-rice pathosystem will have a direct impact on the advancement of agriculture in China. For example, we are trying to educate Chinese farmers on how to distribute and keep disease-resistant rice cultivars to avoid infection by the dominant races of X. orzae, because the pathogen has the ability to generate new virulence genes to overcome resistance genes in rice. We are trying to develop transgenic rice with novel genes that can trigger resistance in rice.

New knowledge in molecular plant pathology that I gained at Cornell University enables me to give good lectures to both undergraduate and graduate students at SJTU. Being a Tang Scholar established a strong tie between Cornell University and SJTU, especially between my mentor, Prof Collmer, and me. We are working on our shared research results in the near future and will continue our collaboration in the future. In May 2008, I invited Dr. Collmer to visit my laboratories both at SJTU and NJAU, and he was more than happy to give lectures and research suggestions to my postgraduates that facilitated my students’ research progress. We are looking forward to Dr. Collmer visiting my lab at SJTU and NJAU in upcoming years.