Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Zhang, Qifa
Location Huazhong Agricultural University
Primary Field Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
Secondary Field Genetics
 Election Citation
Zhang resolved the genetic components controlling hybrid vigor in rice. His group identified and mapped more than 100 important rice genes, and characterized the molecular basis of disease resistance. By integrating biotechnology into breeding programs, his group also developed rice germplasm with improved quality and resistance to disease and insects.
 Research Interests
As a plant geneticist, my research interests have been in genetics and biotechnology of rice. My group has characterized the genetic components controlling heterosis in an elite rice hybrid. Using an "immortalized F2 population" that I designed, we identified heterotic QTL and found coexistence of dominance, overdominance and prevalent epistasis in the system, and demonstrated that heterotic effects at the single-locus level in combination with the advantageous effects of double heterozygotes could explain the genetic basis of heterosis in this hybrid. My group has also systematically conducted functional characterization of the rice genome, and identified over 100 rice genes (QTLs) by molecular mapping and T-DNA insertion mutant library screening. More than 10 agronomically important genes have been molecularly cloned and characterized, including GS3 the first gene identified for grain size (a trait for both grain yield and quality), and xa13 a recessively inherited disease resistant gene. My group has also made large efforts in rice genetic improvement by integrating germplasms, molecular marker assisted selection and transgenics in rice breeding, and developed lines with improved disease resistance, insect resistance and grain quality, some of which have been used in rice production in China.

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