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YongJiang (John) Zhang

Assistant Professor of Plant Physiology

Associate, Climate Change Institute

Degree: Ph. D. 2012 University of Miami; 2011 Chinese Academy of Sciences

Office Location:  282 Hitchner Hall

Research Statement: “My plant physiology lab studies plant response to climate change and environmental stresses. Currently we are studying wild blueberries and trees in Maine. We use field studies, UAV sensors, and controlled experiments. Undergraduate students are involved in multiple research projects.”

Research Topic:  Plant stress physiology, plant hydraulics, principles regulating plant responses to environmental change, wild blueberries under climate change, ecosystem water and carbon balance, and sustainability science.

Research Program:  Plants and ecosystems are dynamic biological systems in a changing physical environment. Revealing the principles that underlie plant responses to environmental stresses and climate change is fundamental for predicting the future of natural and agricultural systems and for developing sustainable natural resource management strategies. The aim of our research is to unfold mechanisms that regulate the responses of plant water use, carbon balance and nutrient economy to environmental stresses and climate change. Currently, we are studying structural and physiological mechanisms regulating plant responses to water stress, low temperature stress, warming and elevated carbon dioxide concentration. Multiple scale approaches (laboratory and greenhouse studies, field works, modeling, and larger scale monitoring) are used in our lab attempting to uncover general principles in plants. As a symbol of Maine’s agricultural heritage, wild blueberries are used as a model system in our lab.

Research directions in our lab include: 1) Physical and physiological mechanisms regulating plant water transport under water stress; 2) Water use and drought tolerance of different crop varieties; 3) The response of plant water use, carbon balance, and nutrient economy to warming and elevated carbon dioxide concentration; 4) Abiotic and biotic characteristics determining sensitivity of ecosystems to climate extremes; 5) The interaction in water and carbon fluxes between natural and human-dominated systems.


Research Websites: 

YongJiang Zhang on ResearchGate

UMaine Plant Physiology

The Zhang Lab

Selected Recent Publications:

Barai K, Calderwood L, Wallhead M, Vanhanen H, Hall B, Drummond F, Zhang YJ. (2022) High variation in yield among wild blueberry genotypes: Can yield be predicted by leaf and stem functional traits? Agronomy 12, 617.

Song L, Yang B, Liu LL, Mo YX, Liu WJ, Meng XJ, Lu HZ, Li Y, Zakari S, Tan ZH, Fan ZX, Zhang YJ. (2022) Spatial-temporal differentiations in water use of coexisting trees from a subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest in Southwest China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 316, 108862.

Tasnim R, Calderwood L, Tooley B, Wang L, Zhang YJ. (2022) Are foliar fertilizers beneficial to growth and yield of wild lowbush blueberries? Agronomy 12, 470.

Chen YY, Pahadi P, Calderwood L, Annis S, Drummond F, Zhang YJ. (2022) Will climate warming alter biotic stresses in wild lowbush blueberries? Agronomy 2022, 12:371.

Siddiq Z, Zhang YJ. (2022) Cool-dry season depression in gas exchange of canopy leaves and water flux of tropical trees at the northern limit of Asian tropics. Plant Ecology 223, 171-183.

Schattman RE, Smart A, Birkel S, Jean H, Barai K, Zhang YJ. (2022) Strawberry growth under current and future rainfall scenarios. Water 14, 313.

Barai K, Tasnim R, Hall B, Rahimzadeh-Bajgiran P, Zhang YJ. (2021) Is drought increasing in Maine and hurting wild blueberry production? Climate 9, 178.

Tasnim R, Zhang YJ. (2021) Are wild blueberries a crop with low photosynthetic capacity? Chamber-size effects in measuring photosynthesis. Agronomy 11, 1572.

Tasnim R, Drummond F, Zhang YJ. (2021) Climate change patterns of wild blueberry fields in Downeast, Maine over the past 40 years. Water 13, 594.

Zhang YJ, Sack L, Cao KF, Wei XM, Li N. (2017) Speed versus endurance tradeoff in plants: Leaves with higher photosynthetic rates show stronger seasonal declines. Scientific Reports 7, 42085.

Zhang YJ, Rockwell FE, Graham AC, Alexander T, Holbrook NM. (2016) Reversible leaf xylem collapse: a potential ‘circuit breaker’ against cavitation. Plant Physiology 172, 2261–2274.

Zhang YJ, Bucci SJ, Arias, NS, Scholz FG, Hao GY, Cao KF, Goldstein G. (2016) Freezing resistance in Patagonian woody shrubs: the role of cell wall elasticity and stem vessel size. Tree Physiology 36, 1007-1018. (Cover Paper)

Zhang YJ, Cao KF, Sack L, Li N, Wei XM, Goldstein G. (2015) Extending the generality of leaf economic design principles in the cycads, an ancient lineage. New Phytologist203, 96-106.

Zhang YJ, Holbrook NM. (2014) The stability of xylem water under tension: A long, slow spin proves illuminating (Commentary). Plant Cell & Environment 37, 2652-2653.

Zhang YJ, Rockwell FE, Wheeler JK, Holbrook NM. (2014) Reversible deformation of transfusion tracheids in Taxus baccata is associated with a reversible decrease in leaf hydraulic conductance. Plant Physiology 165, 1557-1565.

Zhang YJ, Holbrook NM, Cao KF. (2014) Seasonal dynamics in photosynthesis of woody plants at the northern limit of the Asian tropics: potential role of fog in maintaining tropical rainforests and agriculture in Southwest China. Tree Physiology 34, 1069-1078.

Zhang YJ, Meinzer FC, Qi JH, Goldstein G, Cao KF. (2013) Midday stomatal conductance is more related to stem rather than leaf water status in subtropical deciduous and evergreen broadleaf trees. Plant Cell & Environment 36, 149-158.

Cao KF, Yang SJ, Zhang YJ, Brodribb TJ. (2012) The maximum height of grasses is determined by roots. Ecology Letters 15, 666-672.