Xinnian Dong

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Biology

4213 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-1000
(919) 613-8176
Using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system, my laboratory studies the mechanisms of plant defense against microbial pathogens. We focus on a specific response known as systemic acquired resistance (SAR). SAR, which can be induced by a local infection, provides the plants with long lasting, systemic resistance against a broad spectrum of pathogens. Salicylic acid (SA; an active ingredient of aspirin) has been found to be the endogenous signal of SAR. Using a genetic approach, our laboratory identified genes involved in the regulation of SAR. Molecular and genetic analyses are being carried out to understand the gene function and to elucidate the SAR signaling pathway. These SAR-regulating genes are also favorite targets for molecular engineering of disease-resistance crops.


  • Ph.D., Northwestern University 1988

  • B.S., National Wuhan University (China) 1982

Wang, Wei, John Withers, Heng Li, Paul J. Zwack, Domnița-Valeria Rusnac, Hui Shi, Lijing Liu, et al. “Structural basis of salicylic acid perception by Arabidopsis NPR proteins.Nature 586, no. 7828 (October 2020): 311–16. Full Text

Zhang, Jie, Gitta Coaker, Jian-Min Zhou, and Xinnian Dong. “Plant Immune Mechanisms: From Reductionistic to Holistic Points of View.Molecular Plant 13, no. 10 (October 2020): 1358–78. Full Text

Zavaliev, Raul, Rajinikanth Mohan, Tianyuan Chen, and Xinnian Dong. “Formation of NPR1 Condensates Promotes Cell Survival during the Plant Immune Response.Cell 182, no. 5 (September 2020): 1093-1108.e18. Full Text

Yoo, Heejin, George H. Greene, Meng Yuan, Guoyong Xu, Derek Burton, Lijing Liu, Jorge Marqués, and Xinnian Dong. “Translational Regulation of Metabolic Dynamics during Effector-Triggered Immunity.Molecular Plant 13, no. 1 (January 2020): 88–98. Full Text

Li, Meina, Lijun Cao, Musoki Mwimba, Yan Zhou, Ling Li, Mian Zhou, Patrick S. Schnable, Jamie A. O’Rourke, Xinnian Dong, and Wei Wang. “Comprehensive mapping of abiotic stress inputs into the soybean circadian clock.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, no. 47 (November 2019): 23840–49. Full Text

Mwimba, Musoki, Sargis Karapetyan, Lijing Liu, Jorge Marqués, Erin M. McGinnis, Nicolas E. Buchler, and Xinnian Dong. “Daily humidity oscillation regulates the circadian clock to influence plant physiology.Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (October 16, 2018): 4290. Full Text

Greene, George H., and Xinnian Dong. “To grow and to defend.Science (New York, N.Y.) 361, no. 6406 (September 2018): 976–77. Full Text

Karapetyan, Sargis, and Xinnian Dong. “Redox and the circadian clock in plant immunity: A balancing act.Free Radical Biology & Medicine 119 (May 2018): 56–61. Full Text

Withers, John, and Xinnian Dong. “Post-translational regulation of plant immunity.Current Opinion in Plant Biology 38 (August 2017): 124–32. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gu, Yangnan, Raul Zavaliev, and Xinnian Dong. “Membrane Trafficking in Plant Immunity.Molecular Plant 10, no. 8 (August 2017): 1026–34. Full Text Open Access Copy


Mcmillan, H. M., S. G. Zebell, X. Dong, and M. J. Kuehn. “Bacterial vesicles: Double agents for plant defense.” In Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, 32:34–35. AMER PHYTOPATHOLOGICAL SOC, 2019.

Li, X., Y. L. Zhang, J. Clarke, M. Kinkema, W. H. Fan, and X. N. Dong. “Systemic acquired resistance is controlled by both positive and negative regulators.” In Biology of Plant Microbe Interactions, Vol 2, edited by J. G. M. DeWit, T. Bisseling, and W. J. Stiekema, 282–86. INTERNATIONAL SOC MOLECULAR PLANT-MICROBE INTERACTIONS, 2000.


Selected Grants

Genetic and Genomics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2020 to 2025

Training Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2001 to 2022

Elucidation of translational regulatory mechanisms of plant immune responses awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2021

Salicylic acid in immunity and health: A small phytohormone with big physiological impacts awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

Organization and Function of Cellular Structure awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1975 to 2020

Characterization of the Arabidopsis tRNAome in Pathogen Triggered Immunity awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Innovation Corps - National Innovation Network Teams Program (I-CorpsTM Teams) awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Dynamic regulation of salicylic acid biosynthesis and perception in plant immunity awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2018

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded by Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2017