Sustainability Science Program

Yongjiang Zhang

Yongjiang Zhang

Dr. Yongjiang Zhang
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
16 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Office: Room 3107
Tel: (1) 617-496-3580
Group affiliation: Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science

Yongjiang Zhang is a Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science Program based at Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. His research is on plant ecophysiology focusing on the response of plant/ecosystem water balance and carbon economy to environmental change. He received a PhD in Ecology from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 2011, and a PhD in Biology from the Department of Biology at the University of Miami (UM) in 2012. He holds a B.S. in Biological Science from Sichuan University in China and had a one year’s exchange study in University of Washington on Forestry and Botany (2002-2003). He is a recipient of the Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Sustainability Science (2012-2013). His research has been published in Plant Physiology, Plant Cell & Environment, Ecology Letters, New Phytologist, Oecologia and other professional journals. His faculty host at Harvard is Prof. N. Michele Holbrook.

Water use and drought tolerance of high productivity crop varieties

Understanding water use and drought tolerance of crops is of great importance for enhancing food security and conserving water resources in a future with increased climate anomalies. This project seeks to develop new ways of phenotyping water conserving traits in traditional and newly-breed high productivity crop varieties. Traditional varieties typically reduce transpiration as the air becomes less humid, whereas newer varieties selected for high productivity tend to maintain stomata open in dry air to enhance photosynthesis and carbon assimilation. These high productivity varieties are typically less tolerant of drought and the mechanisms they use to maintain water balance could be different from traditional crop varieties. A recently discovered novel physical mechanism in regulating plant water transport will be tested in traditional and high productivity crop varieties to assess their differences in water conserving potential and drought tolerance. This information will help develop sustainable crop production strategies in a future with increased climate extremes including drought.

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