YongJiang (John) Zhang
Assistant Professor of Plant Physiology
Research Topic: Plant stress physiology, plant hydraulics, principles regulating plant responses to environmental change, wild blueberries under climate change, ecosystem water and carbon balance, and sustainability science.
Plants and ecosystems are dynamic biological systems in a changing physical environment. Revealing the principles that underlie plant responses to environmental stresses and climate change is fundamental for predicting the future of natural and agricultural systems and for developing sustainable natural resource management strategies. The aim of our research is to unfold mechanisms that regulate the responses of plant water use, carbon balance and nutrient economy to environmental stresses and climate change. Currently, we are studying structural and physiological mechanisms regulating plant responses to water stress, low temperature stress, warming and elevated carbon dioxide concentration. Multiple scale approaches (laboratory and greenhouse studies, field works, modeling, and larger scale monitoring) are used in our lab attempting to uncover general principles in plants. As a symbol of Maine’s agricultural heritage, wild blueberries are used as a model system in our lab.
Research directions in our lab include: 1) Physical and physiological mechanisms regulating plant water transport under water stress; 2) Water use and drought tolerance of different crop varieties; 3) The response of plant water use, carbon balance, and nutrient economy to warming and elevated carbon dioxide concentration; 4) Abiotic and biotic characteristics determining sensitivity of ecosystems to climate extremes; 5) The interaction in water and carbon fluxes between natural and human-dominated systems.
Selected Recent Publications:
Zhang YJ, Sack L, Cao KF, Wei XM, Li N. (2017) Speed versus endurance tradeoff in plants: Leaves with higher photosynthetic rates show stronger seasonal declines. Scientific Reports In Press.
Zhang YJ, Rockwell FE, Graham AC, Alexander T, Holbrook NM. (2016) Reversible leaf xylem collapse: a potential ‘circuit breaker’ against cavitation. Plant Physiology 172, 2261–2274.
Zhang YJ, Bucci SJ, Arias, NS, Scholz FG, Hao GY, Cao KF, Goldstein G. (2016) Freezing resistance in Patagonian woody shrubs: the role of cell wall elasticity and stem vessel size. Tree Physiology 36, 1007-1018. (Cover Paper)
Zhang YJ, Cao KF, Sack L, Li N, Wei XM, Goldstein G. (2015) Extending the generality of leaf economic design principles in the cycads, an ancient lineage. New Phytologist 203, 96-106.
Zhang YJ, Holbrook NM. (2014) The stability of xylem water under tension: A long, slow spin proves illuminating (Commentary). Plant Cell & Environment 37, 2652-2653.
Zhang YJ, Rockwell FE, Wheeler JK, Holbrook NM. (2014) Reversible deformation of transfusion tracheids in Taxus baccata is associated with a reversible decrease in leaf hydraulic conductance. Plant Physiology 165, 1557-1565.
Zhang YJ, Holbrook NM, Cao KF. (2014) Seasonal dynamics in photosynthesis of woody plants at the northern limit of the Asian tropics: potential role of fog in maintaining tropical rainforests and agriculture in Southwest China. Tree Physiology 34, 1069-1078.
Zhang YJ, Meinzer FC, Qi JH, Goldstein G, Cao KF. (2013) Midday stomatal conductance is more related to stem rather than leaf water status in subtropical deciduous and evergreen broadleaf trees. Plant Cell & Environment 36, 149-158.
Cao KF, Yang SJ, Zhang YJ, Brodribb TJ. (2012) The maximum height of grasses is determined by roots. Ecology Letters 15, 666-672.