Lingxia Zhao

Professor, Department of Plant Science, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Summary of my work

My research interest is in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) developmental biology and biotechnology using tomato expression systems for production of therapeutic proteins. Our fundamental tomato developmental biology research focuses on mechanism of self-incompatibility (SI) in tomato. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms for the recognition between pollen and stigma, pollen germination, pollen tube elongation, ultrastructure of the pollen tubes and style, changes of chemical traits, expression of the related genes and signal transduction and so on. Our research on production of therapeutic proteins using a tomato fruit expression system focuses on production of bioactive therapeutic proteins (such as thymosin alpha 1(Tα1), recombinant human coagulation factor IX (rHFIX), and norovirus vaccine), and development of technology for high level expression, glycosylation and purification of target proteins produced in plant expression systems.

Impacts in China

Self-Incompatibility (SI) is a common phenomenon in the plant kingdom. It plays a vital role in preventing self-pollination, promoting out-crossing to keep genetic polymorphism in plants. SI mechanisms are complex and can be different in different plant taxa. Tomato is one of the most important vegetable crops worldwide., China ranks at the top in the world for tomato production. Breeding of tomato relies on wild tomato resources and effective use of wild tomato resources requires a good understanding of SI mechanisms in tomato.

Tomato has shown to be a promising recombinant protein expression system to produce therapeutic proteins. Our research aims to lay a foundation to produce therapeutic proteins for medicinal use in the future.

As a Tang Scholar at Cornell University, I focused my research on tomato cuticle and conducted two research projects in Dr. Jocelyn Kenneth Campbell Rose laboratory to: 1) Suppress CesA1 gene expression in tomato cuticle through RNAi; and 2) Knock-out inner epidermis-specific genes by RNAi.


  1. 2009 Excellent Teaching Award, “Building and performing of teaching system in research practice for modern agricultural undergraduate students” won Grade II prize in Shanghai government, and the certificate presented in December, 2009
  2. 2008 Excellent Teaching Award, “Building of teaching and research practice system for agricultural undergraduate students and performing” won top one prize in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and certificate presented on September 15, 2008
  3. 2007 Excellent Teaching Award, “Create transgenic lettuce to prevent osteoporosis” won Grade II prize in Shanghai Jiao Tong University for “Challenge Cup” of National Science and Technology College of extra-curricular academic competition works, and certificate presented on November 28, 2007