Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
123 Huntington Street
P.O. Box 1106
New Haven, CT 06504
Voice: (203) 974-8613 Fax: (203) 974-8502
Dr. Zeng has expertise in bacterial diseases of plants, plant-microbe interactions and molecular genetics. He studied fire blight, a disease of apple and pears, soft rot, a potato and vegetable disease, as well as etiolation and decline, a turfgrass disease, from aspects of disease mechanisms, management, and detection.
B.S. Nanjing Agricultural University (2006); Biological Engineering
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2011); Biological Sciences
Postdoctoral associate Michigan State University (2011-2014); Plant Pathology
Assistant Agricultural Scientist II, 2014-present
Plant diseases caused by bacteria result in significant economical loss to the U.S. agriculture annually. Our research aims to provide support to mitigate bacterial plant diseases and to minimize the damage to the plant agriculture. To do so, we first utilize molecular, genetic, and genomic tools to provide better understanding of how bacterial plant pathogens cause infection on host plants, and how the bacterial pathogens adapt to new hosts or spread to new geographical regions. In addition to providing answers to these basic research questions, we also aim to use applied research to address the immediate needs of the farmers, by providing information of antibiotic resistance in the pathogen population, developing more effective biological controls, and by exploring other novel management materials such as antisense antimicrobials and nanoparticles.
Specific research areas include:
1. Understand how bacterial plant pathogens respond to host signals and modulate virulence expression during the host-microbe interactions.
2. Characterize apple flower microbiome, and use the information to guide the identification of effective biological controls for fire blight in Eastern U.S.
3. Use genomics and comparative genomics tools to study the pathogen distribution and evolution of virulence factors in plant pathogenic bacteria
4. Develop antisense antimicrobials and nanoparticles as novel bactericides against bacterial plant pathogens and use them to control bacterial plant diseases.
Peer Reviewed Journals (Corresponding author underlined, * indicates shared lead authorship)
Cui, Z., Yuan, X., Yang, C.H., Huntley, R.B., Sun, W., Wang, J., Sundin, G.W., and Zeng, Q. (2018) Development of a method to monitor gene expression in single bacterial cells during the interaction with plants and use to study the expression of the type III secretion system in single cells of Dickeya dadantii in potato. Front. Microb. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01429
Steven, B., Huntley, R.
B., and Zeng, Q. (2018) The influence of flower anatomy and
apple cultivar on the apple flower phytobiome. Phytobiomes Journal. https://doi.org/10.1094/PBIOMES-03-18-0015-R
Giordano, P.R., Wang, J., Vargas, J.M., Jacobs, J. Chilvers, M.I., and Zeng, Q. (2018) Using a genome-based PCR primer prediction pipeline to develop molecular diagnostics for the turfgrass pathogen Acidovorax avenae. Plant Disease. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-01-18-0165-RE
Yuan, X., Tian, F., He, C., Severin, G.B., Waters, C.M., Zeng, Q., Liu, F., Yang, C.-H. (2018) The diguanylate cyclase GcpA inhibits the production of pectate lyases via the H-NS protein and RsmB regulatory RNA in Dickeya dadantii. Mol. Plant Path. DOI : 10.1111/mpp.12665
Zeng, Q., Cui, Z., Wang, J., Childs, K. L., Sundin, G. W., Cooley, D. R., Yang, C.-H., Garofalo, E., Eaton, A., Huntley, R. B., Yuan, X., and Schultes N. P. (2018) Comparative genomics of Spiraeoideae-infecting Erwinia amylovora strains provides novel insight to genetic diversity and identified the genetic basis of a low virulence strain. Mol. Plant Path. (Cover paper) DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12647
Zeng, Q., Wang, J., Bertels, F., Giordano, P.R., Chilvers, M., Huntley, R.B., Sundin, G.W., Vargas, J. M., Yang, C.-H. (2017) Recombination of virulence genes in divergent Acidovorax avenae strains that infect a common host. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 30:813-828
Patel, R. R., Sundin, G. W., Yang, C.-H., Wang, J., Huntley, R.
B., Yuan, X., and Zeng, Q.
(2017) Antisense peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-cell penetrating peptide (CPP)
causes bactericidal effect in the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora. Front.
Microbiol. 8:687. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00687
Acimovic, S., Zeng, Q., McGhee, G. C., Sundin, G. W., and Wise, J. C. (2015) Control of fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) on apple trees with trunk-injected plant resistance inducers and antibiotics and assessment of induction of pathogenesis-related protein genes. Front. Plant Sci. 6:16
Khokhani, D., Zhang, C., Li, Y., Wang, Q., Zeng, Q., Yamazaki, A., Hutchins, W., Zhou, S., Chen, X., and C-H. Yang (2013) Discovery of plant phenolic compounds that act as type three secretion system inhibitors or inducers of fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.
Zeng, Q., McNally, R. R., Sundin, G. W. (2013) Global small RNA chaperone Hfq and regulatory small RNAs are important virulence regulators in Erwinia amylovora. J. Bacteriol. 195:1706-1717
Zou, L.*, Zeng, Q.*, Lin, H., Gyaneshwar, G., Chen, G., and Yang, C.-H. (2012) SlyA regulates T3SS genes in parallel with the T3SS master regulator HrpL in Dickeya dadantii 3937. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78:2888-2895.
Zeng, Q., Laiosa, M. D., Steeber, D. A., Biddle, E. M., Peng, Q., and Yang, C.-H. (2012) Cell individuality: the bistable gene expression of T3SS in Dickeya dadantii 3937. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 25:37-47.
Yamazaki, A., Li, J., Zeng, Q., Khokhani, D., Hutchins, W. C., Yost, A. C., Biddle, E., Toone, E. J., Chen, X., and Yang, C.-H. (2011) Derivatives of plant phenolic compound affect the type III secretion system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa via a GacS/GacA two component signal transduction system. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 56:36-43.
Zeng, Q., Ibekwe, A. M., Biddle, E., and Yang, C.-H. (2010) Regulatory mechanisms of exoribonuclease PNPase and regulatory small RNA on T3SS of Dickeya dadantii. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 23: 1345 – 1355.
Yi, X., Yamazaki, A., Biddle, E., Zeng, Q., and Yang, C.-H. (2010) Genetic analysis of two phosphodiesterases reveals cyclic diguanylate regulation of virulence factors in Dickeya dadantii. Mol. Microbiol. 77:787-800.
Li, Y., Yamazaki, A., Zou, L., Biddle, E., Zeng, Q., Wang, Y., Lin, H., Wang, Q., and Yang, C.-H. (2010) ClpXP protease regulates the Type III Secretion System of Dickeya dadantii 3937 and is essential for the bacterial virulence. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 23:871-878.
Yang, S., Peng, Q., San Francisco, M., Wang, Y., Zeng, Q., and Yang, C.-H. (2008) Type III secretion system genes of Dickeya dadantii 3937 are induced by plant phenolic acids. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2973.