Rongda Qu


Crop Science Department, North Carolina State University Campus Box 7287, Raleigh, NC 27695


Dr. Qu is professor of crop science and serves as an advisor to graduate students.




Plant Breeding, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Faculty, Research


Dr. Qu's graduate training was in plant cell and molecular biology.


Dr. Qu worked in rice and wheat biotechnology at the Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA) and Montana State University (Bozeman, MT).


Dr. Qu conducts research in genetic transformation for improvement of turfgrass and other crops, and in transgene expression in monocot plants.



Characterization of the rice rubi3 gene promoter



Dr. Elumalai Sivamani isolated and characterized a strong promoter from a rice ubiquitin gene, rubi3, and further improved its strength. Jianli Lu, a former graduate student, found that the expression of the promoter is near-constitutive, and the degree of the expression enhancement by rubi3 5’ UTR intron is tissue-dependent. Shown in the figure is the GFP expression driven by the rubi3 promoter in a rice embryo.


Mechanism of 5’ UTR intron-mediated enhancement of monocot gene expression


Using transgenic callus lines and plants transformed with the rubi3 promoter, Dr. Partha Samadder,a former Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Jianli Lu, observed intron-mediated enhancement at transcriptional, RNA accumulation and translational levels. Shown in the figure is the GUS reporter gene driven by the rubi3 promoter without (left) and with (right) its 5’ UTR intron in transgenic callus lines.


Tall fescue transformation for improved disease resistance


Dr. Shujie Dong developed an efficient Agrobacterium-mediated transformation protocol for tall fescue transformation. She introduced fungal disease resistance genes and observed transgenic plants resistant to both brown patch (Rhizoctonia solani) and gray leaf spot (Magnaporthe grisea) diseases. Shown in the figure is the resistance of transgenic plants to the gray leaf spot disease (right panel) with control (left panel) (Fig. 3). Kanishka de Silva is continuing this project.


Engineered drought tolerance


Dr. Shujie Dong introduced a heterologous gene into tall fescue for improved drought tolerance and saving of irrigation water. Shown are transgenic tall fescue plants (front row) and control plants after 6 days of no watering.


Tobacco improvement


Dr. Kasi Azhakanandam, a former Research Associate, and Bingwu Wang have been working to improve agronomic traits of tobacco through genetic manipulation. In addition, we are interested in producing useful proteins in tobacco for added value.


St. Augustinegrass breeding


In the collaborative project with Dr. A. Bruneau, Ruyu Li, a former graduate student, collected germplasm, and used various approaches to develop somaclonal variations and mutations of St. Augustinegrass for cold tolerance and finer leaf texture.


Switchgrass research


In a collaborative project with Drs. J. Cheng and L. Li, we are trying to improve the quality of the biomass crop for better biofuel production through genetic transformation. We have obtained transgenic switchgrass plants. Shown here is the regenerated switchgrass plants from tissue culture .




Dr. Minesh Patel - Researcher
Dr. Wan Jun Zhang - Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr. Ruyu Li - Postdoctoral Research Associate
Kaimei Xu - Research Assistant
Bingwu Wang - Graduate student (Ph.D.)




CS720 - Dr. Qu is co-teaching CS720 (Molecular Biology in Plant Breeding) with Dr. R. Dewey.



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