Dong Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Xinnian Dong, PhD. Principal Investigator

Professor of Biology, Duke University

Research Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Dr. Dong’s CV
Q & A with Dr. Dong in Current Biology (2019)

Email: Xinnian

Lijun Cao, PhD.

Lijun is a research associate in the Dong lab; he joined in August, 2019. The systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is a whole-plant defense system that confers long-lasting protection against a broad spectrum of microorganisms. The systemic isochorismate synthase (ICS1)-dependent biosynthesis of salicylic acid (SA) is important for SAR induction upon pathogen challenge. Lijun is interested in understanding the mechanism of systemic SAR activation and deciphering how this defense system is tightly regulated.

Email: Lijun

Tianyuan Chen, PhD.

Tianyuan is a research associate in the Dong lab; he joined in November, 2017. Recent studies in our lab have found translational reprogramming plays an important role in plant immunity. Tianyuan’s research interests are in the mechanism of translational regulation during plant resistance.

Email: Tianyuan

Yang He, PhD.

Yang is a research associate in the Dong lab; he joined in April, 2022. He is interested in studying translation regulation during plant resistance. Yang hopes to establish a new strategy to engineer crops for broad-spectrum disease resistance with minimal adverse effects on plant growth and development.

Email: Yang

Sargis Karapetyan, PhD.

Sargis is a research associate in the Dong lab; he joined in February, 2016. Many organisms, including Arabidopsis, have a circadian redox rhythm driven by the organism’s metabolic activities. Notably, this rhythm can persist in the absence the classical genetic circadian clock. Our lab has recently found that the redox rhythm is coupled to the circadian clock in Arabidopsis through master immune regulator NPR1. Sargis is interested in further investigation of the interplay between the circadian redox rhythm and the genetic circadian clock within the context of plant immunity.

Email: Sargis

Yezi Xiang, PhD.

Yezi is a research associate in the Dong lab; she joined in January, 2018 as a graduate student and successful defended her dissertation in March, 2023. Recent studies in our lab has discovered a novel mechanism that regulates translational efficiency during plant immune response. Yezi is interested in further studying translational regulation of plant immunity.

Email: Yezi

Yucong Xie, PhD.

Yucong is a research associate in the Dong lab; she joined in January, 2022. Yucong earned her master’s degree from University of Florida in 2017 and Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University in 2021 with a focus on crop genetic, genomic, and biotechnology. She is interested in using molecular biology and bioinformatic approaches to study the mechanisms behind translational regulation in Arabidopsis.

Email: Yucong

Raul Zavaliev, PhD.

Raul is a research associate in the Dong lab; he joined in December, 2013. Intercellular communication through plasmodesmata determines the outcome of many key developmental processes in plants, like cell differentiation and tissue identity maintenance. Yet, unlike in development, our understanding of the intercellular signaling involved in plant immunity is very limited. The main focus of his post-doctoral research is to identify host factors that are important for information trafficking between infected and non-infected cells, and their role in the establishment of SAR. His additional goal is to identify genetic determinants of tissue/cell specificity of the immune response in Arabidopsis.

Email: Raul

Qian Zhang, PhD.

Qian is a research associate in the Dong lab; she joined in April, 2022. The oomycete Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) is an obligate biotroph pathogen of Arabidopsis, which requires high relative humidity for a successful infection cycle. Our lab has recently found many cell wall-related genes which are mis-regulated upon stimulation with high relative humidity. This implies a possible interplay between humidity, changes in Arabidopsis cell wall composition and Hpa life cycle. Qian is interested in investigating this interplay by using biochemical, molecular biology and high-resolution imaging approaches.


Email: Qian

Xing Zhang, PhD.

Xing is a research associate in the Dong lab; she joined in January, 2018. Upon pathogen infection, plants undergo dramatic transcriptional and translational change. Recently, a novel regulatory mechanism on translational efficiency during plant immune response was uncovered in our lab. Xing is interested in further exploring the mechanism of translational regulation during pathogen infection.


Email: Xing

Yixuan (Jack) Chen, Graduate Student.

Jack is a graduate student in the Dong lab; he joined in April, 2023.

Email: Jack

Jordan Powers, Graduate Student

Jordan is a graduate student in the Dong lab; he joined the lab in May 2019. He is interested in differential gene expression in plants due to biotic stresses and how these changes alter the fitness of the plant.

Email: Jordan

Mindy Sponsel, Lab Manager


Mindy is an associate in research; she joined the lab in August, 2006. She manages the daily operation of the lab. Contact her with any questions.

Email: Mindy