A/Prof. Yong-Ling Ruan
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 7958|
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||B112, Biological Sciences|
My research focuses on elucidating (1) mechanisms by which sugar metabolism and signalling regulate plant development, yield formation and stress tolerance and (2) molecular basis of cell expansion and cellulose biosynthesis. I did my BSc, MSc, PhD and Postdoctoral research at Zhejiang University, China, University of Newcastle, Australia and University of Florida, USA, respectively. I then developed and led a program in CSIRO, Australia on cotton fibre biology and genetic engineering for ten years. I also served as Group Leader and Adjunct Professor on sugar metabolism in Chinese Academy of Science. In later 2007, I took up an academic position from University of Newcastle where I set up the Australia-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement (ACRCCI) and served as Director since its inception, see http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-centre/acrcci/
I have published in top journals including Plant Cell. Over the last 5 years (2007-2012) I have had 28 publications. Among them, 15 articles were published in journals with impact factor (IF) >5 and 2 papers appeared in journals with IF > 10, being among the top 5% and 1% in the Plant Science category. I am the first or senior author for 90% of all my publications.
As the Director of ACRCCI, I have spearheaded the Centre to fruitful research outcomes. Evidence of success includes: (a) Implemented frequent reciprocal research visits by Centre members and launched multiple collaborative projects; (b) Published 10 joint papers in peer-reviewed ERA A and A+ journals; (c) Expansion of the Centre with more partner groups joining in from both countries and PhD students recruited from partner institutes and (d) Wining funding support from Australia Federal Government (DIISRTE) and International partners.
Overall, my research has been internationally recognised by, for example, (1) Invitations to write for world renowned Annual Review of Plant Biology and Trends in Plant Sciences (2) Winning prestigious awards (e.g. ASPS Goldacre Medal) and grants such as ARC DPs; (3) Invitations to organise or chair international meetings and to serve on editorial boards of three International journals and organise special issues (see below).
- Abiotic stress tolerance
- Aquaporin and water transport
- Cell expansion and cell wall biosynthesis
- Seed, fruit and cotton fibre development
- Sugar metabolism, transport and signalling
My research focuses on elucidating (1) mechanisms by which sugar metabolism, transport and signalling regulate fruit and seed and fibre development and (2) molecular basis of plant cell expansion and cellulose synthesis. We use molecular, genetic, biochemical, cell biology approaches to address these issues, key for understanding fundamental Plant Biology and designing innovative tools to improve crop productivity and stress tolerance for food, fuel and fibre. Both research activities are funded by ARC Discovery Program as well as other national and international funding bodies. Major discoveries include:
- A substantial proportion of cell wall invertase (CWIN) activity is capped by its inhibitory protein in vivo. Elevation of CWIN activity by silencing its inhibitor increases seed weight and fruit sugar levels and delays leaf aging (Jin et al 2009 Plant Cell; Ruan et al 2010 Molecular Plant).
- Novel findings on the role of CWIN in endosperm nuclear division and embryonic provascular development, thereby regulating early seed development (Wang & Ruan 2012 Plant Physiology), contrasting to that of sucrose synthase (Sus) which is involved in cell wall synthesis in transfer cells and endosperm (Ruan et al 2003 Plant Cell; Pugh et al 2010 Molecular Plant).
- Identifying major cellular and biochemical bottlenecks that limit assimilate import to and utilization within reproductive organs, thereby causing seed and fruit abortion (Ruan et al 2012 Trends in Plant Science), especially under stress where, for example, low invertase activity could lead to flower and fruit abortion under heat stress (Li et al 2012 Journal of Experimental Botany).
- Dissecting roles of Sus in seed maternal and filial tissue (Ruan et al 1997,1998 Plant Physiology; 2003 Plant Cell; 2008 Functional Plant Biology). Over-expression of Sus enhances cotton fibre and seed development (Xu et al 2012 Molecular Plant; Jiang et al 2012 Plant Biotechnology Journal).
- Reversible gating of plasmodesmata (PD), modulated by callose turnover, coordinates membrane sugar and K+ carriers to control fibre elongation (Ruan et al 2001 Plant Cell; 2004 Plant Physiology). Similarly, developmental closure of PD in tomato fruit coordinates expression of membrane hexose transporters (Ruan & Patrick 1995 Planta; Ruan et al1997 Plant Cell & Environment; Jin et al 2009 Plant Cell).
- Vacuolar invertase regulates cotton fibre and Arabidopsis root elongation through osmotic dependent and independent pathways, respectively (Wang et al 2010 Plant Physiology) and a novel Sus protein targets to cotton fibre cell wall matrix during the secondary cell wall stage, probably underpinning intensive cellulose biosynthesis (Brill et al 2011 Plant Physiology).
Along my research career, I have also been highly active in research training. Since 2008, I have supervised 4 PhD and 2 Master students to completion as principle supervisor. Currently, I am supervising 5 PhD students (4 as principle supervisor), and 1 postdoc. The success of the research training was reflected by (1) Publication of their findings in top journals (e.g. Jin et al 2009 Plant Cell; Wang et al 2010 Plant Physiol) and their subsequent on-track employment as academic (Jin and Fallahi) and postdocs (Wang and Xu); (2) Presentations of their work at International meetings (e.g.15th International Symposium on Plant Membrane Biology 2010, Adelaide and 2nd International conference on Plant Metabolism, 2011, Qingdao) and (3) Receiving 1st class Honours (Jones, Palmer) and University Medal (Jones).
• Prof Xiao-Ya Chen: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
• Dr Alisdair Fernie: Max-Planck-Institute, Potsdam-Golm, Germany
• Prof Wolf Frommer: Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, USA
• Prof John Patrick: University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia;
• Prof Steve Tyerman: University of Adelaide, Glen Osmond, Australia.
Fields of Research
|060702||Plant Cell And Molecular Biology||50|
|060703||Plant Developmental And Reproductive Biology||30|
Centres and Groups
Committee/Associations (relevant to research).
- Editor - Frontiers in Plant Physiology
- Editor - Molecular Plant
- Editor - Plant Signalling and Behaviour
Major Overseas Expert Visiting Fellowship
Ministry of Education (MOU) (China)
Prestigious National Award conferred by MOE to outstanding overseas researchers for promoting research collaboration with Chinese Institutions.
Peter Goldacre Award
The Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS) (Australia)
Major award in Australia recognizing exceptional research performance for a Plant Biologist within 10 years of PhD based on publications in international journals through competitive evaluation process.
Outstanding Young Scientist Award
National Science Foundation of China (China)
One of the most prestigious and highly competitive awards conferred by NSFC for research excellence accomplished by a scientist at the age of no more than 45 years
Fellowship awardred by Australian Cotton Research and Development Corporation.
Special issue on Uptake and Regulation of Resource Allocation for Frontiers in Plant Physiology
Leading Editor, Switzerland (Organising Special Issues for International Journals)
Special issue on Plant Metabolism for Molecular Plant
Co-Editor, United Kingdom (Organising Special Issues for International Journals)
Phloem Transport for Plants in Action
Sole Editor, Australia (Organising book chapter)
Special issue on Assimilate Partitioning for Molecular Plant
Leading Editor, United Kingdom (Organising Special Issues for International Journals)
1st Australia-China Symposium for Crop Improvement (Jan 2013)
Keynote speaker, China (Conference Chair)
2nd International Conference of Plant Metabolism
Invited plenary speaker, China (Organising Committee)
International Symposium on Metabolic Basis for Crop Yield
Invited plenary speaker, China (Conference Presentation - non published.)
International Symposium on Plant Biotechnology
Invited plenary speaker, Switzerland (Conference Presentation - non published.)
Recipient of Peter Goldacre Award speech, Australia (Keynote Address)
- Director of Australia-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement (2008-)
- Institutional Biosafety Committee Member (2010-)
- SACO, School of Environmental & Life Science (2009)
- Biology Honours Committee Member (2010-)
- Manager of Biology Cold room (2010-)
- Coordinator BIOL1003 Lab-based 1st year course- ~160 students and 14 staff /assistants (2012-); BIOL 2220- ~60 students and 4 staff/assistants (2008-); BIOL 3330 ~40 students and 5 Staff & assistants (2009-2011).
- Review Grants for funding Bodies NSF, NSFC, NSFI, USDA; manuscripts for major journals in Plant Biology.
- Editorial duties for three international journals Molecular Plant, Frontiers in Plant Biology; Plant Signalling and Behaviour.
- Lab skills
- Plant Cell Development
- Plant Physiology
Developed the following effective teaching philosophy coupled with research-orientated course design and delivery:
(i) To deliver essential knowledge on contemporary Plant Biology;
(ii) To excite students’ passion to learn actively and deeply and
(iii) To link course content/lab skills with potential applications, career opportunities and relevance to economic and environmental issues.
Teaching in Professional Skills in Biology and Plant Cell Development and Physiology at 1000,2000 and 3000 levels.
Implementation of modifications of major parts of Plant Biology Courses I taught based on new advances in research discovery.
Providing effective feedback and changes in course content or assessment to improve teaching and learning outcome.
Overseeing implementation of coordinated actions in lab skill teaching.
Awarded Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching