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Plant cell walls are the first line of plant defense against pathogens. The cell wall papillae are complex structures differentiated in response to invading pathogens including fungi and bacteria1. Early and rapid papillae formation is critical for successful plant defense. Several cell wall polymers such as callose, cellulose, xyloglucans and lignins are also commonly found in papillae. However, little is known about the interactions of these polymers and the cellular processes involved in papillae assembly, hampering our understanding of the functions of papillae components and the defense mechanisms activated by the perception of pathogens. Using the model pathosystem consisting of the host Arabidopsis thaliana and the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum, we will study the structure-function relationship of papillae polymers and monitor the critical cellular processes that are mobilized for papillae assembly. We will also compare the differences in papillae structure and cellular processes triggered by non-adapted and adapted pathogens, in order to identify the targets of adapted pathogens to suppress papillae formation. Finally we will assess the role of cell wall signaling in papillae formation and how cell wall-derived signals are perceived during fungal infection. A detailed understanding of the function of cell wall papillae and the molecular mechanisms underlying plant defense will provide new prospects for improving food, fiber and biofuel crop production, and thus lead to develop an environmentally sustainable agriculture.
I am a plant biologist with background in biophysics, in biochemistry, and in cell and developmental biology. After obtaining a B.S. in biological sciences, I volunteered in Tibet (July 2007 - August 2008) as a rural development and education officer. During my PhD work, I pioneered and led the development of atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging of plant cell walls in fluid. The application of AFM imaging in never-dried plant cell walls promotes our understanding of the molecular structure of plant cell walls, thus providing the foundation for developing sustainable biofuels or creating bio-inspired materials. From my different positons, I expect to establish a strong track record in publications and patents, develop new collaborative relationship internationally and foster innovative ideas to answer scientific questions with social and economic relevance. These will lay the foundation for my long term career goal as an independent researcher with social responsibility.
Zhang T, Vavylonis D, Durachko D and Cosgrove DJ., 2017. Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls. Nature Plants. 3:17056. Doi:10.1038/ nplants.2017.56
Zhang T, Zheng YZ, Cosgrove DJ., 2016. Spatial organization of cellulose microfibrils and matrix polysaccharides in primary plant cell walls as imaged by multi-channel atomic force microscopy. Plant J. 85: 179-192.
Xiao CW, Zhang T, Zheng YZ, Cosgrove DJ, Anderson CT., 2016. Xyloglucan deficiency disrupts microtubule stability and cellulose biosynthesis in Arabidopsis, altering cell growth and morphogenesis. Plant Physiol. 170: 234-249.
Lei L, Zhang T, Strasser R, Lee CM, Gonneau M, Mach L, Vernhettes S, Kim SH, Cosgrove DJ, Li SD, Gu Y., 2014. The jiaoyao1 mutant is an allele of korrigan1 that abolishes endoglucanase activity and affects the organization of both cellulose microfibrils and microtubules. The Plant Cell. 26: 2601-2616.
Zhang T, Mahgsoudy-Louyeh S, Tittmann B, Cosgrove DJ., 2014. Visualization of the nanoscale pattern of recently-deposited cellulose microfibrils and matrix materials in never-dried primary walls of the onion epidermis. Cellulose. 21: 853-862.
2016 Featured article and cover of The Plant Journal (vol. 85).
2015 Outstanding poster, Gordon Research Conference on Plant Cell Walls, Watham, MA, USA.
2011 Honorable Mention for ChloroFilms, American Society of Plant Biologists.
2008 University Graduate Fellowship Award, Penn State University, USA.
2007 Chun-Tsung Scholar Honors Program, Fudan University, China
2005 Wang-Dao Presidential Scholar Award, Fudan University, China.