Bingyu Zhao

Associate Professor
Bingyu Zhao
220 AG Quad LN
Latham Hall Room 407
Blacksburg, VA 24061


I have a two-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences covering 75% research, 25% teaching.  My research program has been about improving plant disease resistance by integration of plant breeding, genomics, and biotechnology approaches. I currently teach both plant breeding and plant pathology related courses within the school.


  • Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Controlled-Environment Agriculture


  • Ph.D. Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, 2004
  • M.S. Plant Genetics and Breeding, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 1997
  • B.S. Agronomy, Qingdao Agricultural University, 1994

My laboratory works on the molecular plant-microbe interactions using pepper Xanthomonas euvesicatoria and watermelon-Acidovorax citrulli as two model plant-pathogen systems.

We have also worked on the genetic improvement of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), in order to improve biofuel-related traits and resistance to both abiotic and biotic stress. 

Another on-going project is to manipulate Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to help improve plant health/production under a controlled-environment.

  • PPWS5054: Plant Pathogen Agents
  • PPWS 6004 TS: Identifying Plant Pathogens
  • PPWS 5454: Plant Disease Physiology and Development
  • HORT/CSES 5304: Advanced Plant Genetics and Breeding
  • HORT 5004: Horticulture Graduate Seminar
  • GRAD 5515: Molecular Plant Sciences Lab Rotation
  • HORT5984: Genetic Improvement of Energy Crops

Associate Professor | 2013 – present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Assistant Professor | 2007-2013
Department of Horticulture
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2009
  1. Sy M. Traore*, Noam Eckshtain‐Levi, Jiamin Miao*, Anita Castro Sparks, Zhibo Wang*, Kunru Wang*, Qi Li*, Saul Burdman, Ron Walcott, Gregory E. Welbaum, Bingyu Zhao (2019). Nicotiana species as surrogate host for studying the pathogenicity of Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits. Mol Plant Pathol. 2019 doi: 10.1111/mpp.12792.
  2. Haidong Yan*, Aureliano Bombarely, Bin Xu*, Bingchao Wu, Taylor P Frazier*, Xinquan Zhang, Jing Chen, Peilin Chen, Min Sun, Guangyan Feng, Chengran Wang, Chenming Cui, Qi Li, Bingyu Zhao, Linkai Huang, Autopolyploidization in switchgrass alters phenotype and flowering time via epigenetic and transcription regulation, Journal of Experimental Botany, , erz325
  3. Chunman Zuo, Yuhong Tang, Hao Fu, Yiming Liu*, Xunzhong Zhang, Bingyu Zhao, Ying Xu (2018) Elucidation and analyses of the regulatory networks of upland and lowland ecotypes of switchgrass in response to drought and salt stresses PLoS ONE 13(9): e0204426. 
  4. Yan H*, A Bombarely, B Xu*, TP Frazier*, C Wang, P Chen, J Chen, T Hasing, C Cui, X Zhang, B Zhao, and L Huang, siRNAs regulate DNA methylation and interfere with gene and lncRNA expression in the heterozygous polyploid switchgrass. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 2018. 11(1): 208.
  5. Guofu Hu*, Yiming Liu*, Tianqi Duo, Bingyu Zhao, Guowen Cui, Jing Ji, Xiao Kuang, Erik H. Ervin, Xunzhong Zhang (2018) Antioxidant metabolism variation associated with alkali-salt tolerance in thirty switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) lines. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199681. 
  6. Enshi Liu, Mi Li, Lalitendu Das, Yunqiao Pu, Taylor Frazier*, Bingyu Zhao, Mark Crocker, Arthur J. Ragauskas, and Jian Shi (2018) Understanding lignin fractionation and characterization from engineered switchgrass treated by an aqueous ionic liquid, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b00384.
  7. Guigui Wan, Taylor Frazier*, Julianne Jorgensen, Bingyu Zhao, and Charles E. Frazier (2018) Rheological analysis of the transgenic switchgrass with reduced lignin content reveals practical aspects of biomass processing, Biotechnol Biofuels (2018) 11:57.
  8. Levy, A., I. S. Gonzalez, M. Mittelviefhaus, S. Clingenpeel, S. H. Paredes, J. M. Miao*, K. R. Wang*, G. Devescovi, K. Stillman, F. Monteiro, B. R. Alvarez, A. D. S. Lundberg, T. Y. Lu, S. Lebeis, Z. Jin, M. McDonald, A. P. Klein, M. E. Feltcher, T. G. Rio, S. R. Grant, S. L. Doty, R. E. Ley, B. Y. Zhao, V. Venturi, D. A. Pelletier, J. A. Vorholt, S. G. Tringe, T. Woyke and J. L. Dangl (2018). Genomic features of bacterial adaptation to plants. Nature Genetics 50(1): 138-150.
  9. Lidan Sun, Jing Wang, Mengmeng Sang, Libo Jiang, Bingyu Zhao, Tangran Cheng, Qixiang Zhang, and Rongling Wu (2017) Landscaping crossover interferences of a genome, Trends in Plant Science 22(10): 894-907.
  10. Enshi Liu, Lalitendu Das, Bingyu Zhao, Mark Crocker, Jian Shi (2017) Impact of dilute sulfuric acid, ammonium hydroxide and ionic liquid pretreatment on the fractionation and characterization of engineered switchgrass, Bioenergy Research (
  11. Chengsong Zhao, Theres Lasses, Laszlo Bako, Danyu Kong*, Bingyu Zhao, Bidisha Chanda, Aureliano Bombarely, Alfredo Cruz-Ramírez, Ben Scheres, Amy Brunner, Beers, Eric (2017) XYLEM NAC DOMAIN1, an angiosperm NAC transcription factor, inhibits xylem differentiation through conserved motifs that interact with RETINOBLASTOMA-RELATED, New Phytologist 216(1):76-89. doi: 10.1111/nph.14704.
  12. Guohui Yu, Qiang Cheng*, Zheni Xie, Bin Xu*, Bingru Huang, Bingyu Zhao (2017). An efficient protocol for perennial ryegrass mesophyll protoplast isolation and transformation, and its application on interaction study between LpNOL and LpNYC1, Plant Method 2017.13:46. DOI: 10.1186/s13007-017-0196-0
  13. Shidore, Teja S, Corey Broeckling, John Long, Jiamin Miao*, Bingyu Zhao, Jan Leach, Lindsay Triplett (2017). The effector AvrRxo1 phosphorylates NAD in planta, PLoS Pathogen 2017. 13(6): e1006442.
  14. Taylor Frazier*, Nathan Palmer, Fuliang Xie, Christian Tobias, Teresa Donze-Reiner, Aureliano Bombarely, Kevin Childs, Shengqiang Shu, Jerry Jenkins, Jeremy Schmutz, Baohong Zhang, Gautam Sarath, Bingyu Zhao (2016). Identification, characterization, and gene expression analysis of Nucleotide Binding site (NB)-type resistance gene homologues in switchgrass. BMC Genomics 201617:892, DOI: 10.1186/s12864-016-3201-5.
  15. Liu, Y*., J. Miao*, S. Traore*, D. Kong*, Y. Liu*, X. Zhang, Z. Nimchuk, Z. Liu and B. Zhao (2016). SacB-SacR gene cassette as the negative selection marker to suppress Agrobacterium overgrowth in Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 3(70). doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2016.00070
  16. Rodrigues, R. R., J. Moon, B. Zhao and M. A. Williams (2016). Microbial communities and diazotrophic activity differ in the root-zone of Alamo and Dacotah switchgrass feedstocks. GCB Bioenergy. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12396.
  17. Ya-Qing Pan, Huan Guo, Suo-Min Wang, Bingyu Zhao, Jin-Lin Zhang, Qiang Ma, Hong-Ju Yin, Ai-Ke Bao (2016) The photosynthesis, Na+/K+ homeostasis and osmotic adjustment of Atriplex canescens in response to salinity. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2016. 7.
  18. Lindsay R. Triplett, Teja Shidore, John Long, Jiamin Miao*, Shuchi Wu*, Qian Han, Changhe Zhou*, Hiromichi Ishihara, Jianyong Li, Bingyu Zhao, and Leach, J. E. 2016. AvrRxo1 is a bifunctional type III secreted effector and toxin-antitoxin system component with homologs in diverse environmental contexts. PLoS One 11:e0158856. 
  19. Jiamin Miao*, Taylor Frazier*, Linkai Huang*, Xinquan Zhang, and Bingyu Zhao. 2016. Identification and Characterization of Switchgrass Histone H3 and CENH3 Genes. Front Plant Sci 7:979.
  20. Jeongwoon Kim, Yiming Liu*, Xunzhong Zhang, Bingyu Zhao, Kevin L. Childs, (2016). Analysis of salt-induced physiological and proline changes in 46 switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) lines indicates multiple response modes. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 105:203–212.
  21. Yiming Liu*, Xunzhong Zhang, Hong Tran, Liang Shan, Jeongwoon Kim, Kevin Childs, Erik H. Ervin, Taylor Frazier*, Bingyu Zhao, (2015). Assessment of drought tolerance of forty-nine switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) genotypes using physiological and morphological parameters.  Biotechnol Biofuels. 8:152. (doi: 10.1186/s13068-015-0342-8).
  22. Qian Han, Changhe Zhou*, Shuchi Wu*, Yi Liu*, Lindsay Triplett, Jiamin Miao*, James Tokuhisa, Loïc Deblais, Howard Robinson, Jan E. Leach, Jianyong Li, and Bingyu Zhao, (2015). Crystal structure of Xanthomonas AvrRxo1-ORF1, a type III effector with a polynucleotide kinase domain, and its interactor AvrRxo1-ORF2. Structure, (doi: 10.1016/j.str.2015.06.030).
  23. Guofu Hu*, Yiming Liu*, Xunzhong Zhang, Erik Ervin, and Bingyu Zhao, (2015). Evaluation of alkali-salt tolerance of thirty switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) populations. PLoS One, 10(7): e0125305.
  24. Nan Lu, Bingyu Zhao, Andy Pereira, Vladimir Shulaev, Richard E. Veilleux, (2105) Anther culture induces transposable element movement in potato. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 120 (1): 361-366.
  25. Yiming Liu*, Xunzhong, Zhang, Jiamin Miao*, Linkai Huang*, Taylor Frazier*, Bingyu Zhao, (2014). Evaluation of salinity tolerance and genetic diversity of thirty-three switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) populations. Bioenergy Research (s12155-014-9466-0).
  26. Noam Eckshtain Levi, Tamar Munitz, Marija Živanović, Sy M. Traore*, Cathrin Spröer, Bingyu Zhao, Gregory Welbaum, Ron Walcott, Johannes, Sikorski and Saul Burdman, (2014). Comparative analysis of type III secreted effector genes reflects divergence of Acidovorax citrulli strains into three distinct lineages. Phytopathology (DOI: 10.1094/PHYTO-12-13-0350-R)
  27. Leon Van Eck, Rebecca M. Davidson, Shuchi Wu*, Bingyu Zhao, Anna-Maria Botha, Jan E. Leach, and Nora L. V. Lapitan (2014). The transcriptional network of WRKY53 in cereals links oxidative responses to biotic and abiotic stress inputs. Funct Integr Genomics 14(2): 351-362. 
  28. Linkai Huang*, Haidong Yan, Xiaomei Jiang, Xinquan Zhang, Xiu Huang, Yu Zhang, Jiamin Miao, Bin Xu*, Tayler Frazier*, Bingyu Zhao, (2014). Evaluation of candidate reference genes for normalization of quantitative RT-PCR in switchgrass under various abiotic stress conditions. Bioenergy Research (s12155-014-9457-1). 
  29. Zhiyong Yang*, Zhengxing Shen*, Hannah Tetreault, Loretta Johnson, Bernd Friebe, Taylor Frazier*, Lin-kai Huang*, Bin Xu*, Caitlin Burklew*, Xin-Quan Zhang, Bingyu Zhao, (2013). Production of autopolyploid lowland switchgrass lines through in vitro chromosome doubling. Bioenergy Research (10.1007/s12155-013-9364-x).
  30. Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh, Bin Xu*, Bingyu Zhao, and Y.-H. Percival Zhang, 2013. Overcoming biomass recalcitrance by combining genetically modified switchgrass and cellulose solvent-based lignocellulose pretreatment, PLoS ONE 8(9): e73523. 
  31. Taylor Frazier*, Zhengxing Shen*, Elizabeth Bush, Bingyu Zhao, 2012. First report of Puccinia emaculata infection on switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) in Virginia. Plant Disease 97(3):424.
  32. Bin Xu*, Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh, Yuhong Tang, Michael K. Udvardi, Ji-Yi Zhang, Zhengxing Shen*, Maria Balota, Kim Harich, Percival Y-H Zhang, Bingyu Zhao, 2012. Overexpression of AtLOV1 in switchgrass alters plant architecture, lignin content, and flowering time, PLoS One, 7(12): e47399.
  33. Michael P. Torrens-Spencea, Glenda Gillaspy, Bingyu Zhao, Kim Harich, Robert H. White, Jianrong Li, 2012. Biochemical evaluation of a parsley tyrosine decarboxylase results in a novel 4 hydroxyphenylacetaldehyde synthase enzyme, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2012, 418 (2): 211-216.
  34. Hong Zhu, Rui Xia, Bingyu Zhao, Yongqiang An, Chris D Dardick, Ann M Callahan and Zongrang Liu. 2012. Unique expression, processing regulation, and regulatory network of peach (Prunus persica) miRNAs, BMC Plant Biology, 2012,12:149, doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-149.
  35. Shuchi Wu* and Bingyu Zhao, 2012. The selection of recombinant binary plasmids generated by gateway LR cloning in the Escherichia coli strain C2110, Molecular Biotechnology, (doi:10.1007/s12033-012-9548-1).
  36. Sy M. Traore* and Bingyu Zhao, 2011. A novel Gateway(R)-compatible binary vector allows direct selection of recombinant clones in A. tumefaciens. Plant methods, 2011, 7(1): 42.
  37. Bingyu Zhao, Douglas Dahlbeck, Karina Krasileva, Rick Fong, and Brian Staskawicz, 2011. Computational and biochemical analysis of the Xanthomonas effector AvrBs2 and its role in the modulation of Xanthomonas type three effector delivery. PLoS Pathogens, 2011, 7(12): e1002408.
  38. Bing Xu*, Louis Escamilla-Trevino, Sathitsuksanoh Noppadon, Zhengxing Shen*, Percival H. Zhang, Rick A. Dixon, and Bingyu Zhao, 2011. Silencing of 4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase in switchgrass leads to reduced lignin content and improved fermentable sugar yields for biofuel production. The New Phytologist, 2011, 192: 611-625.
  39. Bin Xu*, Lingkai Huang, Zhengxing Shen*, Gregory E. Welbaum, Xunzhong Zhang, and Bingyu Zhao, 2011. Selection and characterization of a new switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) line with high somatic embryogenic capacity for genetic transformation. Scientia Horticulturae, 2011, 129(4): 854-861.
  40. Maike Rentel, Lauriebeth Leonelli, Dahlbeck Douglas, Bingyu Zhao, Brian J. Staskawicz, 2008. Recognition of the Hyaloperonospora parasitica effector ATR13 triggers resistance against oomycete, bacterial, and viral pathogens.  Proceedings of National Academy of Science, 2008, 105(3): 1091-1096.
  41. Bingyu Zhao, Xinghua Lin, Jessie Poland, Harold N. Trick, Jan E. Leach, Scot H. Hulbert, 2005. A maize non-host resistance gene provides resistance to bacterial streak disease in rice. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, 2005, 102 (42): 15383-15388. 
  42. Bingyu Zhao, Edna Y Ardales, Alice Raymundo, Jianfa Bai, Harold N Trick, Jan E Leach, Scot H Hulbert, 2004. The avrRxo1 gene from the rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola confers a nonhost defense reaction on maize with resistance gene Rxo1. Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, 2004, 17(7):771-9. 
  43. Bingyu Zhao, Xinghua Lin, Harold N. Trick, Jan E. Leach, Scot H. Hulbert, 2004. The Rxo1/Rba1 locus of maize controls resistance reactions to pathogenic and non-host bacteria Identification. Theory Applied Genetics, 2004 109(1):71-9.