Zhizhong Gong, Ph. D

Professor, Cheung Kong Scholar
Dean, College of Biological Sciences
State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
China Agricultural University
No.2 Yuanmingyuan Xilu, Haidian District
Beijing, 100193, China
Tel: 86-10-6273-3733
Email: gongzz@cau.edu.cn
1998 PhD Program, Chiba University, Japan
1990 Master of Science, Institute of Botany, CAS
1987 Bachelor of Science, Shandong Normal University
2005- Current, Cheung Kong Scholar
2004-Current, Dean, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University
2002 – Current, Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University
2000 – 2002 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Plant Sciences, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona
1999 – 2000 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Plant Sciences, Purdue University
1999 – 1998 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Chiba University, Japan
2003, National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars
2004, Chief Scientist of National “973” Key Basic Research Project
Research of Special Interest
       The researches in our lab focus on the molecular mechanism of plant drought resistance and the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Drought stress is the most important factor that decreases the yields of crops in the world, which is enhanced by the global warming. To improve drought tolerance and increase the water using efficiency of crops are significant for guarantying the food safety in the future. 

     Stomatal pores formed by a pair of guard cells on the epidermis of leaves control the exchange of atmospheric CO2 and transpirational water vapor by adjusting aperture sizes in higher plants. Root is one of the most important agronomic traits for crop yield as a good root system makes the crops to efficiently uptake nutrients and water from soil and balance the distribution of carbon assimilation between shooting and root. In order to achieve engineering drought tolerance crops, we hope to answer two key scientific questions: How drought inducible phytohormone ABA regulates stomatal movement? How ABA mediates root growth?
    Our lab is utilizing genetic approaches combining with molecular and biochemical techniques to clone genes and dissect their biological roles. We set up two mutant screening strategies, one is to identify stomata movement impairing mutant by checking water loss of detached leaves or leaves on plants growing in soil. By using this screen, we have identified several mutants, and cloned some important genes.  For studying the molecular mechanisms of root growth regulated by ABA, we performed a genetic screen to identify the mutants that are sensitive or insensitive to ABA inhibition of root growth. We have identified several ABA overly-sensitive (abo) mutants for ABA inhibition of root growth and cloned and analyzed the functions of a few of genes. 
    We will focus on the ABA signalling transduction studies based on present results, and especially on the second messenger H2O2 promoted by ABA. The perception of H2O2, the cross-talk of intracellular H2O2 from mitochondria and extracellular H2O2 from plasma membrane, and Ca2+ channels activated by H2O2 will be explored. These studies will help to answer the two raised questions.
   At the same time, we are utilizing a well set-up, unique system of gene silencing to identify the mutants which interfere with the expression of silenced marker genes. Most of the genes identified in this genetic system do not belong to the small RNA guided DNA methylation pathway. Our studies points out that a new pathway of epigenome replication coupling with DNA replication exists in plants. We will further analyze the effects of abiotic stress on epigenomic modifications and deeply study the molecular basis of plant drought resistance at both genome and epigenome levels.
Publications      *Correspondence Author



Liu Z, Jia Y, Ding Y, Shi Y, Zhang X, Li Z, Guo Y, Gong Z, Yang S*. Plasma membrane CRPK1-mediated phosphorylation of 14-3-3 proteins induces their nuclear translocation to fine-tune CBF signaling during cold response. Mol Cell, 2017  66: 117-128.

Promchuea S, Zhu Y, Chen Z, Zhang J, Gong Z*. ARF2 coordinates with PLETHORAs and PINs to orchestrate ABA-mediated root meristem activity in Arabidopsis . Integr Plant Biol. 2017, 59:30-43.

Liu L, Yan X, Kong X, Zhao Y, Gong Z, Jin JB, Guo Y. Transcriptional Gene Silencing Maintained by OTS1 SUMO Protease Requires a DNA-Dependent Polymerase V-Dependent Pathway. Plant Physiol. 2017;173: 655-667.

Meng Z, Ruberti C, Gong Z, Brandizzi F. CPR5 modulates salicylic acid and the unfolded protein response to manage tradeoffs between plant growth and stress responses. Plant J. 2017; 89: 486-501.

Huang X, Zhang X, Gong Z, Yang S, Shi Y. ABI4 represses the expression of type-A ARRs to inhibit seed germination in Arabidopsis. Plant J. 2017;89: 354-365.


Zhang Q, Li Y, Xu T, Srivastava AK, Wang D, Zeng L, Yang L, He L, Zhang H, Zheng Z, Yang DL, Zhao C, Dong J, Gong Z, Liu R, Zhu JK. The chromatin remodeler DDM1 promotes hybrid vigor by regulating salicylic acid metabolism. Cell Discov. 2016; 2: 16027.

Jia Y, Ding Y, Shi Y, Zhang X, Gong Z, Yang S*. The cbfs triple mutants reveal the essential functions of CBFs in cold acclimation and allow the definition of CBF regulons in Arabidopsis. New Phytol. 2016; 212: 345-53.

Lang Z*, Gong Z*. Small RNA biogenesis: Novel roles of an RNase III enzyme. Nat Plants. 2016; 2:16021.

Zhang J, Xie S, Zhu JK, Gong Z*. Requirement for flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) to maintain genomic stability and transcriptional gene silencing in Arabidopsis. Plant J. Plant J. 2016; 87: 629-40

Zhang J, Xie S, Cheng J, Lai J, Zhu JK, Gong Z*. The Second Subunit of DNA Polymerase Delta Is Required for Genomic Stability and Epigenetic Regulation. Plant Physiol. 2016, 171:1192-208.


Kong L, Cheng J, Zhu Y, Ding Y, Meng J, Chen Z, Xie Q, Guo Y, Li J, Yang S, Gong Z*. Degradation of the ABA co-receptor ABI1 by PUB12/13 U-box E3 ligases. Nat Commun. 2015, 6:8630.

Zheng Z, Yu H, Miki D, Jin D, Zhang Q, Ren Z, Gong Z, Zhang H, Zhu JK*. Involvement of Multiple Gene-Silencing Pathways in a Paramutation-like Phenomenon in Arabidopsis. Cell Rep. 2015, 11:1160-7.

Ding Y, Li H, Zhang X, Xie Q, Gong Z, Yang S*. OST1 kinase modulates freezing tolerance by enhancing ICE1 stability in Arabidopsis. Dev Cell. 2015, 32:278-89.

Zheng Z, Yu H, Miki D, Jin D, Zhang Q, Ren Z, Gong Z, Zhang H, Zhu JK*. Involvement of Multiple Gene-Silencing Pathways in a Paramutation-like Phenomenon in Arabidopsis. Cell Rep. 2015,11:1160-7.

Shi Y, Gong Z. One SNP in COLD1 Determines Cold Tolerance during Rice Domestication. J Genet Genomics. 2015, 42:133-4.

Lang Z, Lei M, Wang X, Tang K, Miki D, Zhang H, Mangrauthia SK, Liu W, Nie W, Ma G, Yan J, Duan CG, Hsu CC, Wang C, Tao WA, Gong Z, Zhu JK*. The methyl-CpG-binding protein MBD7 facilitates active DNA demethylation to limit DNA hyper-methylation and transcriptional gene silencing. Mol Cell. 2015, 57:971-83.

Wang C, Dong X, Jin D, Zhao Y, Xie S, Li X, He X, Lang Z, Lai J, Zhu JK, Gong Z*. Methyl-CpG-binding domain protein MBD7 is required for active DNA demethylation in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 2015, 167:905-14.


Yang L, Zhang J, He J, Qin Y, Hua D, Duan Y, Chen Z, Gong Z*. ABA-Mediated ROS in Mitochondria Regulate Root Meristem Activity by Controlling PLETHORA Expression in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genet. 2014, 10(12): e1004791.

Zhao Y, Xie S, Li X, Wang C, Chen Z, Lai J, Gong Z*. REPRESSOR OF SILENCING5 Encodes a Member of the Small Heat Shock Protein Family and Is Required for DNA Demethylation in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2014, 26:2660-2675.

Luo X, Chen Z, Gao J, Gong Z*. Abscisic acid inhibits root growth in Arabidopsis through ethylene biosynthesis. Plant J. 2014, 79:44-55.


Yao T, Jin D, Liu Q, Gong Z*. Abscisic acid suppresses the highly occurred somatic homologous recombination in Arabidopsis rfc1 mutant. J Genet Genomics. 2013, 40:465-71.

Zhang X, Jiang L, Wang G, Yu L, Zhang Q, Xin Q, Wu W, Gong Z, Chen Z*. Structural insights into the abscisic acid stereospecificity by the ABA receptors PYR/PYL/RCAR. PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e67477.


Wang Y, Cheng Z, Huang J, Shi Q, Hong Y, Copenhaver GP, Gong Z, Ma H*. The DNA replication factor RFC1 is required for interference-sensitive meiotic crossovers in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS Genet. 2012 8: e1003039.

Li X, Qian W, Zhao Y, Wang C, Shen J, Zhu J-K*, and Gong Z*. Antisilencing role of the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway and a histone acetyltransferase in Arabidopsis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2012, 109,11425-11430.

Qian W, Miki D, Zhang H, Liu Y, Zhang X, Tang K, Kan Y, La H, Li X, Li S, Zhu X, Shi X, Zhang K, Pontes O, Chen X, Liu R, Gong Z, Zhu JK*.A histone acetyltransferase regulates active DNA demethylation in Arabidopsis. Science, 2012, 336:1445-8.

Hua D#, Wang C#, He J, Liao H, Duan Y,Zhu Z, Guo Y, Gong Z*. A Plasma Membrane Receptor Kinase, GHR1, Mediates ABA- and H2O2-regulated Stomatal Movement in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2012, 24: 2546-2561(#: equal contribution).

He J,Duan Y, Hua D, Fan G, Wang L, Liu Y, Chen Z, Qu L-J, Gong Z*. DEXH-box RNA helicase-mediated mitochondrial ROS production in Arabidopsis mediates cross-talk between Abscisic acid and auxin signalling. Plant Cell, 2012, 24:1815-1833.

Zhang X, Zhang Q, Xin Q, Yu L, Wang Z, Wu W, Jiang L, Wang G, Tian W, Deng Z, Wang Y, Liu Z, Long J, Gong Z, Chen Z*. Complex structures of the abscisic acid receptor PYL3/RCAR13 reveal a unique regulatory mechanism. Structure. 2012, 20:780-90.


Gong Z*, Zhu J-K. Active DNA demethylation by oxidation and repair. Cell Research, 2011, 21:1649-1651.

Wang L, Hua D, He J, Duan Y, Chen Z, Hong X, Gong Z*. Auxin Response Factor2 (ARF2) and its regulated homeodomain gene HB33 mediate abscisic acid response in Arabidopsis. PLOS Genetics, 2011 7:e1002172.

Liu Q, Gong Z*.  The coupling of epigenome replication with DNA replication. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 2011, 14: 187-194


Liu Q, Wang J, Miki D, Xia R, Yu W, He J, Zheng Z, Zhu J-K, Gong Z*. DNA replication factor C1 mediates genomic stability and transcriptional gene silencing in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2010, 22:2336-2352.

Liu Y, He, J, Chen Z, Ren X, Hong X, Gong, Z*. ABA Overly-Sensitive5 (ABO5), encoding a pentatricopeptide repeat protein required for cis-splicing of mitochondrial nad2 intron 3, is involved in abscisic acid response in Arabidopsis. Plant J 2010, 63, 749-765.

Ren X, Chen Z, Liu Y, Zhang H, Zhang M, Liu Q, Hong X, Zhu J-K, Gong Z*. ABO3, a WRKY transcription factor, mediates plant responses to abscisic acid and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant J 2010, 63, 417-429.

Liu J, Ren X, Yin H, Wang Y, Xia R, Wang Y, Gong Z*. Mutation in the catalytic subunit of DNA polymerase alpha influences transcriptional gene silencing and homologous recombination in Arabidopsis. Plant J 2010, 61, 36-45.


Zhang M, Henquet M , Chen Z, Zhang H, Zhang Y, Ren X, van der Krol S, Gonneau M, Bosch D and Gong Z* . LEW3 encoding a putative alpha-1, 2-mannosyltransferase (ALG11) in N-linked glycoprotein plays vital roles in cell wall biosynthesis and abiotic stress response in Arabidopsis. Plant J 2009 60, 983-999.

Shen J, Ren X, Cao R, Liu J, Gong, Z*. Transcriptional gene silencing mediated by a plastid inner envelope phosphoenolpyruvate/phosphate translocator CUE1 in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 2009 150: 1990-1996.

Zhou X, Hua D, Chen Z, Zhou Z, Gong, Z*.  Elongator mediates ABA responses, oxidative stress resistance, and anthocyanin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. Plant J 2009 60:79-90.

Yin H, Zhang X, Liu J, Wang Y, He J, Yang T, Hong X, Yang Q, Gong Z*. Epigenetic regulation, somatic homologous recombination and abscisic acid signaling are influenced by DNA polymerase ε mutation in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2009 21:386-402.

Yang Q,  Chen Z,  Zhou X,  Yin H,  Li X,  Xin X, Hong X, Zhu J-K, Gong Z*. Overexpression of SOS (Salt Overly Sensitive) genes increases the salt tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis. Mol Plant, 2009; 2: 22 – 31


Chinnusamy V, Gong Z, Zhu JK. 2008. Nuclear RNA export and its importance in abiotic stress responses of plants. Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol. 326:235-255.

Chinnusamy V, Gong Z*, Zhu JK. 2008. Abscisic Acid-mediated Epigenetic Processes in Plant Development and Stress Responses. JIPB. 50, 1187–1195.

Zhang H, Ohyama K,  Boudet J, Chen Z, Yang J, Zhang M,Muranaka T, Maurel C, Zhu J-K, and  Gong Z*. Dolichol Biosynthesis and Its Effects on the Unfolded Protein Response and Abiotic Stress Resistance in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2008  20: 1879-1898.


Zhao J, Zhang W, Zhao Y, Gong X, Guo L, Zhu G, Wang X, Gong Z, Schumaker KS, Guo Y. SAD2, an importin -like protein, is required for UV-B response in Arabidopsis by mediating MYB4 nuclear trafficking. Plant Cell. 2007 19: 3805-18.

Wang Y, Liu J, Xia R, Wang J, Shen J, Cao R, Hong X, Zhu J-K, Gong Z*. The protein kinase TOUSLED is required for maintenance of transcriptional gene silencing in Arabidopsis. EMBO R. 8, 1, 77–83 (2007).


Chen Z, Zhang H, Jablonowski D, Zhou X, Ren X, Hong X, Schaffrath R, Zhu J-K, Gong Z*. Mutations in ABO1/ELO2, a subunit of holo-elongator, increase ABA sensitivity and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis. Mol. Cell. Biol. 2006, 26: 6902–6912.

Xia R, Wang J, Liu C, Wang Y, Wang Y, Zhai J, Liu J, Hong X, Cao X, Zhu JK, Gong Z*. ROR1/RPA2A, a putative replication protein A2, functions in epigenetic gene silencing and in regulation of meristem development in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2006 18:85-103.


Kapoor A, Agarwal M, Andreucci A, Zheng X, Gong Z, Hasegawa PM, Bressan RA, Zhu JK. Mutations in a conserved replication protein suppress transcriptional gene silencing in a DNA-methylation-independent manner in Arabidopsis. Curr Biol. 2005 15:1912-8.

Chen Z, Hong X, Zhang H, Wang Y, Li X, Zhu JK, Gong Z*. Disruption of the cellulose synthase gene, AtCesA8/IRX1, enhances drought and osmotic stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Plant J. 2005 43:273-83.

Gong Z
, Dong CH, Lee H, Zhu J, Xiong L, Gong D, Stevenson B, Zhu JK. A DEAD box RNA helicase is essential for mRNA export and important for development and stress responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2005 17:256-67.


Wang, Z-L, Li, P-H, Fredricksen, M, Gong Z, Kim, CS, Zhang, C, Bohnert, HJ, Zhu, J-K, Bressan, RA, Hasegawa, PM, Zhao, Y-X, Zhang, H 2004.  Expressed seqeunce tags from Thellungiella halophila, a new model to study plant salt-tolerance. Plant Sci. 166:609-616.


Gong Z, Morales-Ruiz T, Ariza R. R. , Roldán-Arjona T, David L, Zhu JK. ROS1, a repressor of transcriptional gene silencing in Arabidopsis, encodes a DNA glycosylase/lyase. Cell 2002 111:803-14.

Zhu J, Gong Z, Zhang C, Song CP, Damsz B, Inan G, Koiwa H, Zhu JK, Hasegawa PM, Bressan RA. OSM1/SYP61: a syntaxin protein in Arabidopsis controls abscisic acid-mediated and non-abscisic acid-mediated responses to abiotic stress. Plant Cell. 2002 14:3009-28.

Gong, D., Zhang, C., Chen, X., Gong, Z., and Zhu, J.-K. 2002. Constitutive activation and transgenic evaluation of the function of an Arabidopsis PKS protein kinase. J. Biol. Chem. 2002 277:42088-96.

Gong, Z., Lee, H., Xiong, L., Jagendorf, A., Stevenson, B., and Zhu, J.-K. 2002. RNA helicase-like protein as an early regulator of transcription factors for plant chilling and freezing tolerance. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99:11507-11512.

Koiwa, H., Barb, A.W., Xiong, L., Li, F., McCully, M.G., Lee, B.-H., Sokolchik, I., Zhu, J., Gong, Z., Reddy, M., Sharkhuu, A., Manabe, Y., Yokoi, S., Zhu, J.-K., Bressan, R.A., and Hasegawa, P.M. 2002. C-terminal domain phosphatase-like family members (AtCPLs) differentially regulate Arabidopsis thaliana abiotic stress signaling, growth, and development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 99:10893-10898.

Yamazaki M, Yamagishi E, Gong Z, Fukuchi-Mizutani M, Fukui Y, Tanaka Y, Kusumi T, Yamaguchi M, Saito K. Two flavonoid glucosyltransferases from Petunia hybrida: molecular cloning, biochemical properties and developmentally regulated expression. Plant Mol Biol. 2002, 48:401-11.

Gong, D., Gong, Z., Guo, Y., Chen, X., Zhu, J.-K. 2002. Biochemical and functional characterization of PKS11, a novel Arabidopsis protein kinase. J. Biol. Chem. 277:28340-28350.

Gong, D., Gong, Z. and Zhu, J.-K. 2002. Expression, activation and biochemical properties of a novel Arabidopsis protein kinase.  Plant Physiol. 129:225-234.


Li X, Gong Z, Koiwa H, Niu X, Espartero J, Zhu X, Veronese P, Ruggiero B, Bressan R,. Weller SC,.Hasegawa PM. Bar Expressing Peppermint (Mentha X Piperita L. var. Black Mitcham) Plants Are Highly Resistant to the Glufosinate Herbicide Liberty. Molecular Breeding. 2001, 8: 109-118.

Xiong L, Gong Z, Rock CD, Subramanian S, Guo Y, Xu W, Galbraith D, Zhu JK. Modulation of abscisic acid signal transduction and biosynthesis by an Sm-like protein in Arabidopsis.
Dev Cell. 2001 (6):771-81.

Gong Z
, Koiwa H, Cushman MA, Ray A,Bufford D, Kore-eda S, Matsumoto T, Zhu J, Cushman J, Bressan R, Hasegawa M Genes that are uniquely stress-regulated in salt overly sensitive(sos) mutants. Plant Physiol. 2001, 126: 363-375.

Kitada C, Gong Z, Tanaka Y, Yamazaki M, Saito K.Differential expression of two cytochrome P450s involved in the biosynthesis of flavones and anthocyanins in chemo-varietal forms of Perilla frutescens. Plant Cell Physiol. 2001 42:1338-44.

Lee H, Xiong L, Gong Z, Ishitani M, Stevenson B, Zhu JK. The Arabidopsis HOS1 gene negatively regulates cold signal transduction and encodes a RING finger protein that displays cold-regulated nucleo-cytoplasmic partitioning . Genes & Deve  15 : 912-924(2001).


Gong Z, Yamazaki M, Saito K(2000) Critical role of alanine-161 in Delila protein involved in regulation of anthocyanin pigmentation for transcriptional activation in yeast. Plant Biotech, 17, 309-314.


Yamazaki M1, Gong Z1, Fukuchi-Mizutani M, Fukui Y, Tanaka Y, Kusumi T, Saito K. Molecular cloning and biochemical characterization of a novel anthocyanin 5-O-glucosyltransferase by mRNA differential display for plant forms regarding anthocyanin. J Biol Chem 1999, 274:7405-11. (1: Equal contribution)

Gong Z
, Yamagishi E, Yamazaki M, Saito K A constitutively expressed Myc-like gene involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis from Perilla frutescens: molecular characterization, heterologous expression in transgenic plants and transactivation in yeast cells. Plant Mol Biol 1999, 41:33-44.

Gong Z
, Yamazaki M, Saito K. A light-inducible Myb-like gene that is specifically expressed in red Perilla frutescens and presumably acts as a determining factor of the anthocyanin forma. Mol Gen Genet 1999, 262: 65-72.

Saito K, Kobayashi M, Gong Z, Tanaka Y, Yamazaki M Direct evidence for anthocyanidin synthase as a 2-oxoglutarate-dependent oxygenase: molecular cloning and functional expression of cDNA from a red forma of Perilla frutescens. Plant J 1999, 17:181-9.


Yamagishi E, Gong Z, Yamazaki M,  Saito K. Molecular cloning of a cDNA encoding a novel UDP-glucose glucosyltransferase homologue from Arabidopsis thaliana (Accession No. AB016819). Plant Physiol., 1998, 118, 1102.


Gong Z, Yamazaki M, Sugiyama M, Tanaka Y, Saito K. Cloning and molecular analysis of structural genes involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis and expressed in a forma-specific manner in Perilla frutescens. Plant Mol Biol 1997, 35: 915-27