Xinnian Dong

Arts and Sciences Professor of Biology in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

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 1982

Mwimba, M, Karapetyan, S, Liu, L, Marqués, J, McGinnis, EM, Buchler, NE, and Dong, X. "Daily humidity oscillation regulates the circadian clock to influence plant physiology." Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (October 16, 2018): 4290-null. Full Text

Greene, GH, and Dong, X. "To grow and to defend." Science (New York, N.Y.) 361, no. 6406 (September 2018): 976-977. Full Text

Karapetyan, S, and Dong, X. "Redox and the circadian clock in plant immunity: A balancing act." Free Radical Biology & Medicine 119 (May 2018): 56-61. (Review) Full Text

Withers, J, and Dong, X. "Post-translational regulation of plant immunity." Current Opinion in Plant Biology 38 (August 2017): 124-132. (Review) Full Text Open Access Copy

Gu, Y, Zavaliev, R, and Dong, X. "Membrane Trafficking in Plant Immunity." Molecular Plant 10, no. 8 (August 2017): 1026-1034. (Review) Full Text Open Access Copy

Xu, G, Yuan, M, Ai, C, Liu, L, Zhuang, E, Karapetyan, S, Wang, S, and Dong, X. "uORF-mediated translation allows engineered plant disease resistance without fitness costs." Nature 545, no. 7655 (May 17, 2017): 491-494. Full Text

Xu, G, Greene, GH, Yoo, H, Liu, L, Marqués, J, Motley, J, and Dong, X. "Global translational reprogramming is a fundamental layer of immune regulation in plants." Nature 545, no. 7655 (May 17, 2017): 487-490. Full Text Open Access Copy

Mwimba, M, and Dong, X. "The CAT(2) Comes Back." Cell host & microbe 21, no. 2 (February 2017): 125-127. Full Text

Liu, L, Sonbol, F-M, Huot, B, Gu, Y, Withers, J, Mwimba, M, Yao, J, He, SY, and Dong, X. "Salicylic acid receptors activate jasmonic acid signalling through a non-canonical pathway to promote effector-triggered immunity." Nature Communications 7 (October 11, 2016): 13099-null. Full Text

Zavaliev, R, Dong, X, and Epel, BL. "Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) Modification Serves as a Primary Plasmodesmal Sorting Signal." Plant Physiology 172, no. 2 (October 2016): 1061-1073. Full Text



Selected Grants

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 & 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

The Interplay Between the Circadian Clock and Plant Immune Mechanisms awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2017