Research Group of
Plant Epigenetics and Development
(PI: Ralf Müller-Xing)
Research Group Introduction
- Epigenetic control of plant development in Arabidopsis, Populus and economically significant trees
- Epigenetic and chromatin regulation of gene expression by Polycomb and Trithorax Group recruiters
- Epigenetic 'Plant-Memory' of extrinsic signals (biotic and abiotic stresses)
- 'Hormonal and Epigenetic control of De Novo Root Regeneration (DNRR)'
In multicellular organisms, epigenetic mechanisms provide stable gene expression patterns that enable the formation of diverse tissues and whole organs. Epigenetic processes cause heritable changes in gene activity that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence that allows reversibility in response to extrinsic signals and endogenous clues. Hence, epigenetics safeguard transcriptional homeostasis in different tissue types but also promote transcriptional dynamics during plant development. The major epigenetic regulators cause DNA methylation, incorporation of histone variants, or covalent modifications to histone residues such as the repressive mark trimethylation of Histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) by Polycomb group (Pc-G) proteins.
One of our current research interests is the epigenetic mechanism in 'Plant-Memory' of extrinsic signals such as abiotic and biotic stresses. We started a project with Dr. Xiaokun Liu about 'Signalling as the Basis of Epigenetic Stress Memory: From Signal Reception to Chromatin Imprinting.'
Nonetheless, we are continuously working on the epigenetic aspects of plant development. Our current work focuses on, but is not limited to, the role of Pc-G proteins in plant development under non-stress and stress conditions. Our findings and applications will be used to improve crop yields, and to increase food quality and safety.
In a new collaboration with Dr. Arvind Bhatt, we will investigate the epigenetic mechanisms contribute to complex traits in plant ecology. In these studies, we will merge ecological experiments with epigenetic analyses to reveal the contribution of epigenetics to plant phenotypes, stress responses, adaptation to habitat, and range distributions.
Another of our projects focuses on the 'Hormonal and Epigenetic control of De Novo Root Regeneration (DNRR)'. Many plant species are able to regenerate adventitious roots (ARs) either directly from aerial organs such as leaves or stems, or indirectly, from over-proliferating tissue termed callus. In agriculture, this capacity of AR formation can be used to clonally propagate several important crop plants. Direct and indirect DNRR originates from the cells of the pluripotent pericycle(-like) tissue. Independently of their origin, the cells convert into root founder cells, which go through proliferation and differentiation subsequently forming functional root meristems, root primordia, and then complete roots. Recent studies have identiﬁed several key regulators building in response to the phytohormone auxin transcriptional networks that are involved in both callus formation and DNRR. Upon wounding, the phytohormone jasmonate works upstream controlling auxin production and accumulation at the site of DNRR. Several other phytohormones are implicated in DNRR but their exact links to the auxin-jasmonate regulatory network of DNRR are still waiting to be discovered. In both, callus formation and DNRR, epigenetic regulation seems essential for the dynamic reprogramming of cell fate, which is correlated with local and global changes of the chromatin states that might ensure the correct spatiotemporal expression pattern of the key regulators (Reviewed in Jing et al. 2020).
Our approaches will investigate in greater detail the network of phytohormones controlling DNRR in Arabidopsis and Populus trichocarpa tree, and how the transcriptional key regulators and the writers, erasers, and readers of epigenetic modiﬁcations interact during DNRR. This research have the long-term goal to apply the acquired knowledge about DNRR in commercial propagation of economic trees and wooden crops such as kiwifruit.
Principal Investigator (研究组长）
Principal Investigator (PI)
Scientific Research Center of Xixia Agricultural Park,
Xixia Town, Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province
Since the beginning of my career, I have developed a strong interest in the molecular basis of developmental biology in general and more particularly of plants. After a long period of researching signal transduction in meristems, my research focus shifted to the epigenetic control of plant development and epigenetic plant memory of extrinsic signals including abiotic and biotic stress. Hence, I am a developmental plant biologist by training with more than 20 years of laboratory experience and a strong background in epigenetics, stress responses/memory, signal transduction, gene regulatory networks (GRN) and their roles in plant development including de novo root regeneration (DNRR), stem cell maintenance, flowering time, root, flower and leaf development. Over the years, I was working in a wide spectrum of modern molecular and plant biology. I am an expert in the analysis of plant phenotypes and morphological changes as well as the molecular basis of genetic and epigenetic gene regulation in plants. My team at the Lushan Botanical Garden, Jiangxi Province and Chinese Academy of Science (Nanchang, China), works on 'Plant Epigenetics and Development' of Arabidopsis, Populus and economically significant trees. Our current projects include 'Plant-Memory' and 'Hormonal and Epigenetic Control of De Novo Root Regeneration (DNRR).'
2021 - Present: Principal Investigator (Research group: Plant Epigenetics and Development), Lushan Botanical Garden, Jiangxi Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanchang, China.
2015 - 2021: Professor (Full) of Genetics, College of Life Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China
2013 - 2015: Independent Marie Curie-IEF Fellow (Institute of Genetics); Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany
2012 - 2013: Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Institute of Genetics), Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany
2011 - 2012: Guest Researcher (DAAD Fellow), Department of Plant Developmental Biology, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany
2008 - 2011: Postdoctoral Research Scientist (IMPS), The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
2008: Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Institute of Genetics), Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany
Dr. rer. nat. (PhD) 2003 - 2007: in Plant Genetics (Plant stem cells) at the Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany
Diplom Biologist (Master) 1995 - 2002: in Biology (Developmental Biology, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry) at the University of Cologne, Germany
Teaching / Demonstration Experience
Plant Development (2015-2021, postgraduates, NEFU Harbin)
Plant Epigenetics (2015-2021, undergraduates, NEFU Harbin)
Summer academy course for high-school students: Role of Pc-G in plant development (2013, high-school students, HHU Düsseldorf)
Advanced studies course: Molecular genetics (2004 - 2007, undergraduates, HHU Düsseldorf)
Basic studies course: Arabidopsis flower development (2004 - 2007; 2013 - 2014, undergraduates, HHU Düsseldorf)
Reviewer of the Journals
Journal of Experimental Botany, Journal of Applied Genetics, Functional Plant Biology, Plos One, Plant Signaling & Behavior; Co-Reviewer: Science, Genes & Development
- Prof. Dr. JIAO, Yuling, Peking University and Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
- Prof. Dr. Justin Goodrich, The University of Edinburgh, UK
- Prof. Dr. Daniel Schubert, Free University of Berlin, Germany
- Prof. Dr. Jennifer Fletcher, University of California, Berkeley, USA
- Prof. Dr. Yvonne Stahl, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany
- Prof. Dr. LIU, Xuemei, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China
- Dr. Sara Farrona, National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway), Ireland
- Dr. Arvind Bhatt, Lushan Botanical Garden, Jiangxi Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jiujiang, China.
- Dr. LIU, Xiaokun, Lushan Botanical Garden, Jiangxi Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanchang, China.
Leading Research Grants, and Fellowships
2021 - 2023: Lushan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Starting Grant, funding: 150,000 RMB
2018 - To date: National Natural Science Foundation of China (project No. 31771602); funding: 650,000 RMB
2020-2021 Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China (Grant No. 2572016DA03); funding: 80,000 RMB
2017 - 2018: National Natural Science Foundation of China (project No. 31640054); funding: 150,000 RMB
2015 - 2019 Starting Grant for Distinguished Young Scholars, Advantage Discipline Innovation Platform, Northeast Forestry University; funding 3,000,000 RMB.
2013 - 2015: Marie Curie-IEF Fellowship, Project: Plant Memory; Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf; funding: 1,250,000 RMB.
2011 - 2012: Return fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne; funding: 66,000 RMB.
Selected Research Publications
Total citations in professional articles ≥ 1340 (Google Scholar - 10/12/2021)
17) Müller-Xing, R.*, Ardiansyah, R., Xing, Q., Faivre, L., Tian, J., Wang, G., Zheng, Y., Wang, X., Jing, T., de Leau, E., Chen, S., Chen, S., Schubert, D., and Goodrich, J. (2022). Polycomb Proteins Control Floral Determinacy by H3K27me3-mediated Repression of Pluripotency Genes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Experimental Botany, under Revision. IF 7.0, Q1; * Corresponding author.
16), Ardiansyah, R., Xing, Q., Jing, T., Fan, X., Zhang, Q. and Müller-Xing, R.* (2022). The Epigenetic Regulator ULTRAPETALA1 suppresses De novo Root Regeneration from Arabidopsis leaf explants. Plant Signaling & Behavior, under Review. IF 2.4, Q2; 1 citation; * Corresponding author.
15) Müller-Xing, R.* and Xing Q. (2021). In da Club: The cytoplasmic kinase MAZZA joins CLAVATA signaling and dances with CLV1-like receptors. Journal of Experimental Botany, 22;72(13):4596-4599. IF 7.0, Q1; * Corresponding author.
14) Xiong, Y., Xing, Q. and Ralf Müller-Xing, R.* (2021). A novel UV-B priming system reveals an UVR8-depedent memory, which provides resistance against UV-B stress in Arabidopsis leaves. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2021 Apr 3;16(4):1879533. IF 2.4, Q2; 1 citation; * Corresponding author.
13) Jing, T., Ardiansyah, R., Xu, Q., Xing, Q. and Müller-Xing, R.* (2020). Reprogramming of Cell Fate during Root Regeneration by Transcriptional and Epigenetic Networks. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2020 Mar 25;11:317. IF 5.8, Q1; 7 citations (Google Scholar); * Corresponding author.
12) Li, X. […], Li, Y., Xing, Q. and Müller-Xing, R.* (2020) Ectopic expression of the transcription factor CUC2 restricts growth by cell cycle inhibition in Arabidopsis leaves. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2020;15(1):1706024. Impact Factor: 2.3, Q2; 2 citations (Google Scholar); * Corresponding author.
11) Müller-Xing, R.*, Goodrich, J. and Schubert, D. (2015). Non-inductive conditions expose the cryptic bract of flower phytomeres in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2015;10(4):e1010868. Impact Factor: 2.3, Q2; 4 citations (Google Scholar); * Corresponding author.
10) Müller-Xing, R.*, Xing, Q. and Goodrich, J. (2014). Footprints of the Sun: Memory of UV and Light Stress in Plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 5:474. Impact Factor: 5.8, Q1; 132 citations (Google Scholar); * Corresponding author.
9) Müller-Xing, R., Clarenz, O., Pokorny, L., Goodrich, J. and Schubert, D. (2014). Polycomb-Group Proteins and FLOWERING LOCUS T Maintain Commitment to Flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant Cell 26 2457-2471. Impact Factor: 11.3, Q1; 41 citations (Google Scholar); Cover story of Plant Cell, June 2014.
8) López Vernaza, M., Yang, S., Müller, R., deLeau, E. and Goodrich J. (2012). Antagonistic roles of SEPALLATA3, FT and FLC genes as targets of the polycomb group gene CURLY LEAF. PLoS one 2012;7(2):e30715. Impact Factor (2013): 3.2; 70 citations (Google Scholar).
7) Liu, X., Kim, Y.J., Müller, R., Yumul, R.E., Liu, C., Pan, Y., Cao, X., Goodrich, J. and Chen X. (2011). AGAMOUS directly represses the stem cell maintenance gene WUSCHEL by recruiting Polycomb Group proteins to terminate floral stem cells in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell 23, 3654-70. Impact Factor: 11.3, Q1; 213 citations (Google Scholar); Recommended by Faculty of 1000 (6 stars).
6) Müller, R. and Goodrich, J. (2011). Sweet memories: Epigenetic control in flowering. F1000 biology reports 3, 13. Impact Factor (2013): 3.960; 18 citations (Google Scholar).
5) Müller, R. and Goodrich, J. (2011). The footprints of winter: The marks on genetic machinery that give plants a memory of winter. The Scientist 25, 3, 57-58.
4) Müller, R., Bleckmann, A. und Simon, R. (2008). The receptor kinase CORYNE of Arabidopsis transmits the stem cell-limiting signal CLAVATA3 independently of CLAVATA1. The Plant Cell 20, 934-946. Impact Factor: 11.3, Q1; 446 citations in professional articles (Google Scholar); Recommended by Faculty of 1000 (2 stars).
3) Müller, R., Borghi, L., Kwiatkowska, D., Laufs, P. and Simon, R. (2006). Dynamic and compensatory responses of Arabidopsis shoot and floral meristems to CLV3 signaling. The Plant Cell 18, 1188-1198. Impact Factor: 11.3, Q1; 180 citations in professional articles (Google Scholar); Recommended by Faculty of 1000 (1 star).
2) Simon, R., Müller, R., Borghi, L., and Kwiatkowska, D. (2005). Control of plant stem cell populations. Mechanisms of Development 122 S1-03.
1) Hobe, M.*, Müller, R.*, Grünewald, M., Brand, U. and Simon, R. (2003). Loss of CLE40, a protein functionally equivalent to the stem cell restricting signal CLV3, enhances root waving in Arabidopsis. Dev Genes Evol 213, 371-381. Impact Factor: 1.3; 228 citations (Google Scholar); * These authors contributed equally to this work.
Papers/Abstracts/Posters published in Conferences and invited Talks (selection)
2019 Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany; Plant Biology Seminar (PBS) of iGRADplant, 7th of October, 2019. Invited speaker: "Dissection of Polycomb and Trithorax Functions during Plant Development."
2019 Northeast Agriculture University, Harbin, 23th of May, 2019. Invited speaker: "Dissection of the Spatiotemporal Patterns of Polycomb and Trithorax Functions during Plant Development."
2018 Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University, Symposium of Stress and Epigenetics, 4th of May, 2018. Invited speaker.
2017 KWS Plant Breeding Company, Einbeck, Germany, 2nd of May, 2017. Invited speaker.
2017 30th Conference on Molecular Biology of Plants, 22nd of February, 2017, Germany. Conference talk: "Enhanced serration of Polycomb deficient leaves, correlating with CUC2 mis-expression and loss of H3K27me3 at the CUC2 locus, depends on CUC2 function in Arabidopsis thaliana"
2016 Chinese Academy of Sciences (Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology), 16th of December, 2016, Changchun. Invited speaker: "Dissection of the epigenetic plant memory: Polycomb Proteins and their Antagonists shaping Plant Development and Responses to the Environment."
2016 Chinese Academy of Sciences (Institute of Botany), 25th of October, 2016, Beijing. Invited speaker.
2016 The First International Conference on Plant Meristem Biology, 8th of June, 2016, Taian, China. Conference talk: "A WUSCHEL-independent stem cell promoting pathway is antagonised by the Polycomb Repressor Complex 2."
2015 28st Conference "Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen", Dabringhausen, Germany. Poster: "Plant-Memory - Role of Pc-G and Trx-G genes in the cellular memory of extrinsic signals in plants."
2014 1st Decennial AGGRO Simon & Friends - International Conference (Plant Stem Cells and Beyond), Düsseldorf, Germany. Invited Speaker: “Role of Polycomb-group proteins in Plant Development."
2014 9th Tri-National Arabidopsis Meetings (TNAM), Heidelberg, Germany. Invited Speaker: “Polycomb-group proteins and FLOWERING LOCUS T maintain commitment to flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana." And Poster: "Plant-Memory: Role of Pc-G and Trx-G genes in the cellular memory of extrinsic signals in plants. Part I: Search for an UV-B memory in Arabidopsis and crop plants."
2014 2nd International Symposium: Genetic Variation of Flowering Time Genes and Applications for Crop Improvement, Bielefeld, Germany. Invited Speaker: “Polycomb-group proteins and FLOWERING LOCUS T maintain commitment to flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana”
2013 3rd European Workshop on Plant Chromatin, Madrid, Spain. Abstract: "Plant-Memory: Role of Pc-G and Trx-G genes in the cellular memory of extrinsic signals in plants."
2010 21st International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR 2010), Yokohama, Japan. Poster: “Fix the switch: Role of Polycomb-Group Genes in Commitment to Flowering”
2009 20th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR 2009), Edinburgh, UK. Poster: "Role of Polycomb-Group Genes in Commitment to Flowering in Arabidopsis."
2009 ERA-PG Research Programme Status Seminar 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.
2007 4th Tri-National Arabidopsis Meetings (TNAM), Vienna, Austria. Poster.
2006 15th Congress of the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology (FESPB) Lyon, France. Poster.
2005 Workshop: “Plant Stem Cells: Independent Inventions and Conserved Mechanisms, 2005", Madrid, Spain; Instituto Juan March, co-sponsored by EMBO. Poster: “Components and consequences of CLV signalling.”
2002 13th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR, 2002), Sevilla, Spain. Poster: “Analysis of a functional CLAVATA3 orthologue from Capsella rubella.”
3.中央高校基本科研业务费专项资金项目, 2572020DY06, 早期花发育的表观遗传调控机制研究, 2020/01-2021/07,已结题，主要参加
1. Ralf Müller-Xing and Qian Xing*, Insight - In da Club: The cytoplasmic kinase MAZZA joins CLAVATA signaling and dances with CLV1-like receptors, Journal of Experimental Botany, 22;72(13):4596-4599. JCR Q1区，中科院植物科学1区[Top]，IF 7.0
2. Ying Xiong, Qian Xing and Ralf Müller-Xing, A novel UV-B priming system reveals an UVR8-depedent memory, which provides resistance against UV-B stress in Arabidopsis leaves, Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2021 Apr 3;16(4):1879533. JCR Q2区，中科院生物4区，IF 2.4
3. Xiaoyu Li#; Yucai Zheng#; Qian Xing#*; Rhomi Ardiansyah; Hui Zhou; Shahid Ali; Tingting Jing; Jingjing Tian; Xing Shun Song; Yuhua Li; Ralf Müller-Xing*; Ectopic expression of the transcription factor CUC2 restricts growth by cell cycle inhibition in Arabidopsis leaves, Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2020, 15(1): e1706024. JCR Q2区，中科院生物4区，IF 2.4，SCI他引次数2
4. Tingting Jing#; Rhomi Ardiansyah#; Qijiang Xu; Qian Xing*; Ralf Müller-Xing*; Reprogramming of Cell Fate During Root Regeneration by Transcriptional and Epigenetic Networks, Frontiers in Plant Science, 2020, 11(317). JCR Q1区，中科院生物2区，IF 5.8，SCI他引次数6
5. Mueller Xing Ralf#*; Xing Qian#; Goodrich Justin; Footprints of the sun: memory of UV and light stress in plants, Frontiers in Plant Science, 2014, 5:0-UNSP 474. JCR Q1区，中科院生物2区，IF 5.8，SCI他引次数111
6. Xing Qian; Creff Audrey; Waters Andrew; Tanaka Hirokazu; Goodrich Justin; Ingram Gwyneth C*; ZHOUPI controls embryonic cuticle formation via a signalling pathway involving the subtilisin protease ABNORMAL LEAF-SHAPE1 and the receptor kinases GASSHO1 and GASSHO2, Development, 2013, 140(4): 770-779. JCR Q1区，中科院生物2区[Top]，IF 6.9，SCI他引次数74