Featured Profile: Shuqun Zhang
University of Missouri researcher Dr. Shuqun Zhang is working to enhance plant fitness.
By studying plant reproduction and response to adverse environment conditions/pathogens, Zhang seeks new ways to help plants thrive and flourish. His work benefits a wide range of plants and those who depend on plants for food, medicine, energy and clean air.
Plants require pollen to reproduce. Zhang measures pollen production in plants by using a specialized genetic material he developed that tracks reactions associated with pollen function. The results could lead to optimizing pollen production during drought or high heat, when pollen count is usually lower. Better production of pollen would likely lead to an increase in production of food crops.
Another focus of Zhang’s research is developing crops with improved disease resistance. When a virus attacks, a plant activates its defense systems. Zhang studies what happens between the time a pathogen attacks and the plant begins its defense. By better understanding these mechanisms, scientists can strengthen plants’ resistance to disease.
Dr. Zhang is a professor of biochemistry within the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and a researcher at Bond Life Sciences Center.
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