Huanzhong Wang
Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut
1390 Storrs Rd., Unit 4163
Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture
Agricultural Biotechnology Lab 
Storrs, Connecticut 06269

Telephone: (860) 486-4443
Lab Phone: (860) 486-6751
Fax: (860) 486-0682


Ph. D. 2006, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
M. S. 1998, Hebei Agricultural University, Baoding, China
B. S. 1995, Hebei Agricultural University, Baoding, China

Research Interests

Plant vascular tissues play essential roles in plant growth and development, and have allowed plant species to successfully adapt to a variety of environments since they evolved 450 Mya. Furthermore, as the major component of vascular tissue, xylem forms the majority of plant biomass on the earth’s surface. The search for environmentally friendly bioenergy has made the biosynthesis of plant biomass one of the most important research topics in plant biology. The long term goal of research in the Wang Lab is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms in regulating plant vascular development and xylem differentiation.

Plant vascular tissues are composed of xylem, phloem and the intervening vascular stem cells (AKA procambium or cambium). Stem cells produce progeny cells, which either maintain their stem cell property or differentiate into xylem toward the center and phloem toward the periphery of plant stems. Compared to stem cells in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) and root apical meristem (RAM), we know little about the maintenance of vascular stem cells. We have identified several transcriptional regulators that function in vascular patterning and stem cell maintenance in Arabidopsis. Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of these regulators will provide new insights in plant stem cell maintenance.

Xylem tissues develop secondarily thickened cell walls and form the majority of terrestrial cellulosic biomass. Our research focus on how cells with secondary cell walls (SCWs) differentiate; how syntheses of the three cell wall components, e.g. cellulose, lignin and hemicelluloses, are coordinately regulated; and how to apply our findings to improve feedstock properties for biofuel production. We use Arabidopsis and poplar trees as model plants to investigate transcription factors and their networks in regulating SCW deposition. We have elucidated the functions of microRNAs, class III HD-ZIP TFs, NAC and WRKY domain TFs in SCW development. Genetics, biochemistry, genomics and molecular biology approaches are used in the lab to decipher regulatory mechanisms of the biological pathways.


PLSC 5210/3210: Molecular Laboratory Technology

PLSC 3230: Biotechnology- Science, Impact, Perception

HORT 4650: Plant Tissue Culture

Recent Honors & Special Activities

Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award, National Science Foundation. (2015)
Travel Award, Pan America Plants and BioEnergy Congress. (2014)  
Postdoctoral Researcher Poster Competition Award, GRC on plant cell wall. (2009)
President Award, Chinese Academy of Science. (2006)
Outstanding Graduates, Chinese Academy of Science. (2005 - 2006)
Excellent Graduate Student Award Chinese Academy of Sciences. (2003 - 2004)  

Research Positions

Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture, University of ConnecticutStorrs, CT. Assistant Professor, Aug, 2011­

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK. Postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Richard Dixon, 2008-2011

University of California at Berkeley/PGEC-USDA, Albany, CA. Postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Sheila McCormick, 2006-2008

Recent Publications

# corresponding author  *these authors contributed equally to this work

Qian Du, Huanzhong Wang # (2016) Retarded Embryo Development 1 (RED1) regulates embryo development, seed maturation and plant growth in Arabidopsis. Journal of Genetics and Genomics In press DOI: 10.1016/j.jgg.2016.04.009

Jung Hyun Yang, Huanzhong Wang # (2016) Molecular mechanisms for vascular development and secondary cell wall formation. Frontiers in Plant Science 7:356, DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00356

Huanzhong Wang #, Jung Hyun Yang, Fang Chen, Ivone Torres-Jerez, Yuhong Tang, Mingyi Wang, Qian Du, Xiaofei Cheng, Jiangqi Wen, and Richard Dixon (2016). Transcriptome analysis of secondary cell wall development in Medicago truncatula. BMC Genomics 17:23, DOI 10.1186/s12864-015-2330-6

Qian Du and Huanzhong Wang # (2015). The role of HD-ZIP III transcription factors and miR165/166 in vascular development and secondary cell wall formation. Plant signaling and Behavior 10:10 DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2015.1078955

Qian Du, Utku Avci, Shengben Li, Lina Gallego-Giraldo, Sivakumar Pattathil, Liying Qi, Michael G. Hahn and Huanzhong Wang # (2015). Activation of miR165b represses AtHB15 expression and induces pith secondary wall development in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal, 83(3): 388–400.

Gallego-Giraldo, L., Shadle, G., Shen, H., Barros-Rios, J., Fresquet Corrales, S., Wang, H. and Dixon, R.A. (2015) Combining enhanced biomass density with reduced lignin level for improved forage quality. Plant Biotechnology Journal, doi: 10.1111/pbi.12439

Huanzhong Wang, Richard A. Dixon (2012). On-Off switches for secondary cell wall biosynthesis.  Molecular Plant, 5 (2): 297-303. 

Shen, H., He, X., Poovaiah, C. R., Wuddineh, W. A., Ma, J., Mann, D. G. J., Wang, H., Jackson, L., Tang, Y., Neal Stewart, C., Chen, F. and Dixon, R. A. (2012), Functional characterization of the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) R2R3-MYB transcription factor PvMYB4 for improvement of lignocellulosic feedstocks. New Phytologist, 193: 121–136

Huanzhong Wang, Qiao ZhaoFang Chen and Richard A. Dixon (2011). NAC domain function and transcriptional control of a secondary cell wall master switch. Plant Journal, 68(6): 1104-1114.

Huanzhong Wang, Utku Avci, Jin Nakashima, Michael G. Hahn, Fang Chen, and Richard A. Dixon (2010). Mutation of WRKY transcription factors initiates pith secondary wall formation and increases stem biomass in dicotyledonous plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107: 22338-22343

Featured in Science, Editors’ Choice, titled “Boosting Biofuel” Science 2011, 331:11

Qiao Zhao, Huanzhong Wang, Yanbin Yin, Ying Xu, Fang Chen, and Richard A. Dixon (2010). Syringyl lignin biosynthesis is directly regulated by a secondary cell wall master switch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107: 14496-14501.

Qiao Zhao, Lina Gallego-Giraldo, Huanzhong Wang, Yining Zeng, Shi-You Ding, Fang Chen and Richard A. Dixon (2010). A NAC transcription factor orchestrates multiple features of cell wall development in Medicago truncatula. Plant Journal 63: 100-114

Xia Cui, Chunmin Ge, Renxiao Wang, Huanzhong Wang, Weiqi Chen, Zhiming Fu, Xiangning Jiang, Jiayang Li and Yonghong Wang (2010). The BUD2 mutation affects plant architecture through altering cytokinin and auxin responses in Arabidopsis. Cell Research 20: 576-586

Huanzhong Wang, Leonor C. Boavida, Mily Ron and Sheila McCormick. (2008). Truncation of a Protein Disulfide Isomerase, PDIL2-1, Delays Embryo Sac Maturation and Disrupts Pollen Tube Guidance in Arabidopsis thalianaThe Plant Cell 20: 3300-3311

Ya Dai*Huanzhong Wang*, Li Baohua, Juan Huang, Xinfang Liu, Yihua Zhou, Zhonglin Mou, Jiayang Li (2006) Increased expression of MAP KINASE KINASE7 Causes Deficiency in Polar Auxin Transport and Leads to Plant Architectural Abnormality in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell 18: 308-320

Huanzhong Wang, Yonghong Wang, Jiayang Li (2004). The metabolism and functional mechanism of plant hormones. In Agricultural biotechnology, Keqiang Mang, ed (Beijing, China, Chemical industry publishers ), pp 56-77


Transcription Factors for modification of lignin content in plants
Patent No. US 9,045,549 B2
Date of Patent: June 2, 2015
Inventors: Huanzhong Wang, Fang Chen and Richard Dixon

Invited Posters/Talks

Huanzhong Wang (2016) Invited Seminar for the Woodstock Academy "biofuels, biomass and plant vascular stem cells" Mar 18th, 2016

Huanzhong Wang (2016) Invited Seminar for the Plant Biology Discussion group at UConn "biofuels, biomass and plant vascular stem cells" April 19th, 2016

Huanzhong Wang (2015) Invited talk for the Plant biology graduate program seminars at University of Massachusetts at Amherst titled “Boosting biofuels by switching on-off secondary cell wall development.” Dec 3rd, 2015

Huanzhong Wang (2015) Invited talk for Plant Biology Symposium - University of Maryland, titled “Boosting biofuel by molecular regulation of Biomass formation” Maryland, US May 27-29, 2105

Huanzhong Wang, Qian Du and Liying Qi. (2014) Identification of new regulators of cell wall development in Arabidopsis.  Plants and BioEnergy 2014 Congress, Guelph, Canada June 4 -7, 2014

        Invited talk on Session B2. Genetic Improvement of Plant Biomass II titled “Identification of new regulators of cell wall development in Arabidopsis”.

Huanzhong Wang, Qian Du, and Jung Yang. (2013) Characterization of an Irregular Xylem Mutant in Medicago truncatula. ASPB Meeting, July 21-24, Providence, RI

Du, Q., Ali, R., Wang, H. (2012)  Characterization of an Irregular Xylem Mutant in Medicago truncatula", 10th Annual Symposium in Plant Biology October 6, 2012 at UMass.

Huanzhong Wang, Utku Avci, Jin Nakashima, Michael G. Hahn, Fang Chen, and Richard A. Dixon (2011). Mutation of WRKY transcription factors initiates pith secondary wall formation and increases stem biomass in dicotyledonous plants. ASPB Meeting, Aug  6-10, Minneapolis, MN

          Invited talk on ASPB Minismposium 9: Biofuel titled “ WRKY transcription factor and biomass density” Aug 8th, 2011

Huanzhong Wang, Fang Chen and Richard A. Dixon (2010). Identification of transcription factors involving in secondary wall thickening in Medicago truncatula. International Association for Plant Biotechnology Congress (IAPB), Jun 6-11, America’s Center, Saint Louis, MO.

Huanzhong Wang, Fang Chen and Richard Dixon (2009). Transcription regulation of secondary wall development in Medicago truncatula.Golden Research Conference on plant cell wall synthesis, Aug 2-7, Bryant University, Smithfield, RI. Postdoctoral Researcher Poster Competition Award

Other Scholarly Activities

Serve as Guest Editor for the Frontiers in Plant Science. Organized a Research Topic “Plant cell walls as extra cellular matrices (ECMs) and biosensors” in 2016

Regular reviewer for refereed academic and scholarly journal manuscript submissions, including the top journals in the field such as Plant Cell, Plant Journal, BMC Plant Biology, Journal of Plant Physiology, Plant Cell Report, Biotechnology for Biofuels, Planta, BMC Plant Biology, PLOS one, Frontiers in Plant Science etc.

Ad hoc reviewer for National Science Foundation, Plant Genome Research Program, China National Science Foundation, the Research Grant Council (RGC) of Hong Kong, and Louisiana Board of Regents.


Graduate Faculty Committee, Jan 2012-

Institutional Biosafety Committee, Jan 2013-

Excellent Award Committee, 2013-


Updated on May 4th, 2016