Zheng-Hui He

Zheng-Hui He

( He/Him/His )
University of Virginia
Phone: (415) 338-6193
Email: zhe@sfsu.edu
Location: HH 550

Field: Cell and Molecular Biology

At SF State Since: 1998

Specialties: Molecular Mechanisms of Cell-Cell and Cell-Environment Communications in Plant Development, Vitamin B6 and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) Signaling, Plant Stress Physiology.

External Personal Website:

Serving as the Executive Editor for Molecular Plant since 2007

We have several ongoing projects in the lab right now.

  • Project 1.  Ultraviolet-B and Vitamin B6 signaling in Arabidopsis
    All sun-exposed organisms have to encounter ultraviolet-B (UV-B, 280-320 nm), an integral part of solar radiation. Depending on its energy levels, UV-B can be harmful or beneficial to biological organisms. Understanding the molecular mechanism of how cells sense and respond to UV-B at all levels is fundamentally important to both agriculture and human health. My lab has identified an Arabidopsis mutant, rus1, that is specifically hypersensitive to low level UV-B. The striking phenotypes and extreme UV-B sensitivities of rus1 provided us a feasible platform to identify genetic components that can be good candidates for UV-B specific signaling components. We recently discovered that vitamin B6,  an important cofactor for many enzymes, plays a critical role in this process. Our experiments are underway to delineate the molecular mechanism of low-level UV-B signaling in Arabidopsis.
  • Project 2. Effective control of harmful algae blooming (HAB) 
    HAB is a major environmental problem all over the world. Currently, there is no effective and safe method to control this problem. In collaboration with Professor Weiming Wu (Chemistry and Biochemistry, SF State), we have been working to develop chemical compounds that can effectively control HAB. We have discovered a natural compound derivative that can effectively inhibit the growth of cyanobacteria Mycrocystis aeruginosa, the main algae strain that causes HAB in freshwater environments. The LC50 (lethal concentration that halves the growth) of this inhibitor is 0.03 mg/L. The chemical is derived from a natural product secreted by aqua plants as a chemical defense against algae. The new chemical has been found not to be toxic against plants, yeast, and animal cells. It is expected to be an effective agent against algae growth in lakes, ponds, pools, or tanks. We are interested in analyzing the mechanism of new compound's selective inhibition on Mycrocystis aeruginosa and extend our laboratory tests to actual field utilizations.
  • Project 3. Molecular mechanism of green island formation in white orchid Phalaenopsis
    Multicellular organisms develop and behave according to both their internal genetic instructions and environmental cues they receive. Understanding how one species in a community influences and regulates the development and behavior of another is fundamentally important. Fungal invaders are known to closely interact with plant hosts, yet little is known about the molecular mechanism of how fungal presence can result in developmental switches in plant cells. My lab have recently discovered  that white orchid (Phalaenopsis) flowers, thus non-photosynthetic tissues, exhibited green halo structures around dark spots that appeared to be fungal infection sites.  Our discoveries documented the first report of flower anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum karstii in white Phalaenopsis orchids in the United States. This work has recently been published in Plant Disease. This phenomenon, known as a green island, provides an excellent platform for us to analyze the molecular mechanism of fungus-plant interactions.

Ge, Y.;  He, Z.;  Wu, W. (2015)  “Methods of Inhibiting Cyanobacteria by Administering Gramine Derivatives”, US Patent 8,945,397 B2.