Ling Yuan
Principal Investigator

Professional Profile

After working in the biotech industry for 10 years as a Principal Scientist and a Program Manager, I joined KTRDC in 2003 and currently serve as the Executive Director and a Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Research Interests

  • Transcriptional regulation of plant secondary metabolic pathways and the mechanistic roles of functional domains of transcription factors;
  • Application of advanced technologies, such as genome editing, for crop design.
  • Protein engineering to modify genes and protein functions


  • Fall/Spring semesters: ABT 301. Writing and Presentation in Life Sciences
  • Spring semesters: PLS609. Plant Biochemistry


  • Postdoctoral fellow at University of California, San Francisco, 1989
  • Ph.D. (Plant biology, biochemistry and molecular biology), University of Texas at Austin, 1989.
  • B.S. (Biology), Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, 1983.

Additional Information


Wang H, Wu Y, Zhang Y, Yang J, Fan W, Zhang H, Zhao S, Yuan L, Zhang P. (2019) CRISPR/Cas9-Based Mutagenesis of Starch Biosynthetic Genes in Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) for the Improvement of Starch Quality. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20: 4702.

Kong Q, Yuan L, Ma W. (2019) WRINKLED1, a "Master Regulator" in Transcriptional Control of Plant Oil Biosynthesis. Plants (Basel). doi: 10.3390/plants8070238. 

Liu YL, Patra B., Pattanaik S, Wang Y, Yuan L. (2019) GATA and PIF transcription factors regulate light-induced biosynthesis of vindoline in Catharanthus. Plant Physiology. 180(3):1336-1350. 

Zhang Y, Deng G, Fan W, Yuan L, Wang H, Zhang P. (2019) NHX1 and eIF4A1-stacked transgenic sweet potato shows enhanced tolerance to drought stress. Plant Cell Rep. (in press) doi: 10.1007/s00299-019-02454-6.

Schluttenhofer C, Yuan L. (2019) Hemp hemp hooray for cannabis research. Science. 363(6428): 701-702 (Letter)

Jiang J, Xi H, Dai Z, Lecourieux F, Yuan L, Liu X, Patra B, Wei Y, Li S, Wang L (2018) VvWRKY8 negatively regulates VvSTS through direct interaction with VvMYB14 to balance resveratrol biosynthesis in grapevine. Journal of Experimental Botany. 70(2): 715-729

Sui X, Kumar Singh S, Patra B, Schluttenhofer C, Guo W, Pattanaik S, Yuan L. (2018) Cross-family Transcription Factor Interaction between MYC2 and GBFs Modulates Terpenoid indole Alkaloid Biosynthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany. 69(18): 4267-4281

Wang J, Wang X, Geng S, Singh SK, Wang Y, Pattanaik S, Yuan L. (2018) Genome-wide identification of hexokinase gene family in Brassica napus: structure, phylogenetic analysis, expression, and functional characterization. Planta. 248(1): 171-182

Yang X, Pan H, Yuan L, Zhou X (2018) Reference gene selection for RT-qPCR analysis in Harmonia axyridis, a global invasive lady beetle. Scientific Reports. 8(1): 2689

Liu Y, Song Y, Zeng S, Patra B, Yuan L, Wang Y (2018) Isolation and characterization of a salt stress-responsive betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase in Lycium ruthenicum Murr. Physiol Plant. 163(1): 73-87

Patra B, Pattanaik S, Schluttenhofer C, Yuan L. (2018) Jasmonate signaling regulates a network of bHLH factors to balance biosynthesis of monoterpenoid indole alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus. New Phytologist. 217(4):1566-1581

Feller A, Yuan L, Grotewold E (2017) The BIF Domain in Plant bHLH Proteins is an ACT-Like Domain. Plant Cell. 29(8):1800-1802. doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00356

Schluttenhofer CM and Yuan L (2017) Challenges Towards Revitalizing Hemp - a Multifaceted Crop. Trends in Plant Science. 22(11):917-929.

Shen, EM, Singh, S, Ghosh JS, Patra B, Paul P, Yuan L, Pattanaik S (2017) The miRNAome of Catharanthus roseus: identification, expression analysis, and potential roles of microRNAs in regulation of terpenoid indole alkaloid biosynthesis.  Scientific Reports. 7:43027

Paul P, Singh S, Patra B, Sui X, Pattanaik S, Yuan L. (2017) A differentially regulated AP2/ERF transcription factor gene cluster acts downstream of a MAP kinase cascade to modulate terpenoid indole alkaloid biosynthesis in Catharanthus roseus. New Phytologist. 213(3):1107-1123

Wang J, Singh SK, Du C, Li C, Fan J, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2016) Comparative transcriptomic analysis of two Brassica napus near-isogenic lines reveals a network of genes that influences seed oil accumulation. Frontiers in Plant Science. 7:1498

Huang W, Khaldun AB, Chen J, Zhang C, Lv H, Yuan L, Wang Y. (2016) A R2R3-MYB Transcription Factor Regulates the Flavonol Biosynthetic Pathway in a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Plant, Epimedium sagittatum. Frontiers in Plant Science. 7:1089.

Xu Z, Cheng K, Li X, Yang J, Xu S, Cao X, Hu X, Xie W, Yuan L, Ambrose M, Chen G, Mi H, Luo D (2016) Transcriptional and Post-transcriptional Modulation of SQU and KEW Activities in the Control of Dorsal-ventral Asymmetric Flower Development in Lotus japonicus. Molecular Plant. 9(5):722-736.

Wang JX, Nie J, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2016) Efficient Agrobacterium-mediated transformationof Artemisia annua L. using young inflorescence. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Plant. 52 (2): 204–211.

Wang H, Yang J, Zhang M, Fan W, Firon N, Pattanaik S, Yuan L, Zhang P (2015) Altered Phenylpropanoid Metabolism in the Maize Lc-Expressed Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) Affects Storage Root Development. Scientific Reports. 6:18645.

Singh SK, Wu Y, Ghosh JS, Pattanaik S, Fisher C, Wang Y, Lawson D, Yuan L (2015) RNA-sequencing Reveals Global Transcriptomic Changes in Nicotiana tabacum Responding to Topping and Treatment of Axillary-shoot Control Chemicals.  Scientific Reports. 5:18148

Chen J, Xu Y, Wei G, Liao S, Zhang Y, Huang W, Yuan L, Wang Y (2015) Chemotypic and genetic diversity in Epimedium sagittatum from different geographical regions of China. Phytochemistry. 116:180-187.

Jia X, Shen J, Liu H, Li F, Ding N, Gao C, Pattanaik S, Patra B, Li R, Yuan L (2015) Small tandem target mimic-mediated blockage of microRNA858 induces anthocyanin accumulation in tomato. Planta 242(1):283-293.

Schluttenhofer CM, Yuan L (2015) Regulation of specialized metabolism by WRKY transcription factors.  Plant Physiology. 167 (2): 295-306.

Yuan L, Grotewold E (2015) Metabolic engineering to enhance the value of plants as green factories. Metabolic Engineering. 27:83-91

Schluttenhofer CM, Pattanaik S, Patra B, and Yuan L (2014) Analyses of Catharanthus roseus and Arabidopsis thaliana WRKY transcription factors reveal involvement in jasmonate signaling. BMC Genomics 15:502.

Pattanaik S, Patra B, Singh SK and Yuan L (2014) An overview of the gene regulatory network controlling trichome development in the model plant, Arabidopsis. Frontiers in Plant Cell Biology. 5:259.

Singh SK, Heng C, Braker JD, Chan V, Lee CC, Jordan, DB, Yuan L, Wagschal K (2014) Directed evolution of GH43 β-xylosidase XylBH43 thermal stability and L186 saturation mutagenesis. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology. 41(3):489-498

Yang Z, Patra B, Li R, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2013) Characterization of the promoter of CrWRKY1 transcription factor. Gene. Planta. 238:1039–1049

Patra B, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2013) Proteolytic degradation of the flavonoid regulators, TRANSPERENT TESTA8 and TRANSPERENT TESTA GLABRA1 in Arabidopsis is mediated by ubiquitin/26S proteasome system.  Plant Signal & Behavior. 8(10): e25901.

Xu YQ, Li ZZ, Yuan L, Zhang XJ, Lu DY, Huang HW, Ying Wang (2013) Variation of epimedins A, B, C and icariin in ten representative populations of Epimedium brevicornu Maxim., and implications for utilization.  Chemistry & Biodiversity. 10:711-721.

Huang W, Sun W, Lv H, Luo M, Zeng S, Pattanaik S, Yuan L, Wang Y (2013) A R2R3-MYB transcription factor from Epimedium sagittatum regulates the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. PLoS One. 8(8):e70778.

Patra B, Schluttenhofer C, Wu Y, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2013) Transcriptional regulation of secondary metabolism. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1829: 1236-1247.

Patra B, Pattanaik S, Yuan L (2013) Ubiquitin protein ligase 3 mediates the proteasomal degradation of GLABROUS3 and ENHANCER OF GLABROUS 3, regulators of trichome development and flavonoid biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.  The Plant Journal 74:435-437.

Kong Q, Pattanaik S, Feller A, Werkman JR, Chai C, Wang Y, Grotewold E, Yuan L (2012) A regulatory switch enforced by bHLH and ACT domain-mediated dimerization of the maize transcription factor R.  Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences, U.S. A. 109: E2091-2097

Suttipanta N, Pattanaik S, Kulshrestha M, Patra B, Singh SK, Yuan L (2011) The transcription factor CrWRKY1 positively regulates terpenoid indole alkaloid biosynthesis in Catharanthus roseus.  Plant Physiology 157: 2081-2093.

Jordan DB, Wagschal K, Fan ZM, Yuan L, Braker JD, Heng C (2011) Engineering lower inhibitor affinities in beta-D-xylosidase of Selenomonas ruminantium by site-directed mutagenesis of Trp145.  Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.  38: 1821-1835

Bai Y, Pattanaik S, Patra B, Werkman JR, Xie CH, Yuan L (2011) Flavonoid-related basic helix-loop-helix regulators, NtAn1a and NtAn1b, of tobacco have originated from two ancestors and are functionally active. Planta. 234: 363-375

Pattanaik S, Kong Q, Zaitlin D, Werkman JH, Xie CH, Patra B, Yuan L (2010) Isolation and functional characterization of a floral tissue-specific R2R3 MYB regulator from tobacco. Planta. 231: 1061-1076.

Fan ZM, Yuan L, Jordan DB, Wagschal K, Heng C, Braker JD (2010) Engineering lower inhibitor affinities in B-D-xylosidase.  Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 86: 1099-1113.

Fan ZM, Yuan L (2010) Production of multifunctional chimaeric enzymes in plants.  Plant Biotechnology Journal. 8: 308-315.

Fan ZM, Werkman JH, Yuan L (2009) Engineering a multifunctional hemicellulase.  Biotechnology Letters 31: 751-757

Fan ZM, Wagschal K, Chen W, Montross MD, Lee CC, Yuan L  (2009) Multimeric hemicellulases facilitate biomass conversion.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 75: 1754-1757

Fan ZM, Wagschal K, Lee CC, Kong Q, Shen KA, Maiti I, Yuan L (2009) The Construction and Characterization of Two Xylan-degrading Chimeric Enzymes. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 102(3): 684-692

Fan ZM, Yuan L, Chatterjee R (2008) Increased Hydrogen Production by Genetic Engineering of Escherichia coli. PLoS One. 4(2): e4432

Pattanaik S, Xie CH, Yuan L (2008) The Interaction Domains of the Plant Myc-like bHLH Transcription Factors Can Regulate the Transactivation Strength. Planta. 227: 707-715.

Pattanaik S, Xie CH, Yuan L (2007) Creation of master transcription factors to regulate plant metabolic pathways. Acta Hort. 756: 109-118.

Zeng Q, Qiu F, Yuan L (2008) Production of Artemisinin by Genetically-modified microbes. Biotechnology Letters. 30: 581-592.

Suttipanta N, Pattanaik S, Gunjan S, Littleton J, Yuan L (2007) Promoter analysis of the Catharanthus roseus geranial 10-hydroxylase gene involved in terpenoid indole alkaloid biosynthesis. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1769: 139-148

Pattanaik S, Xie CH, Kong Q, Shen KA, Yuan L (2006). Directed evolution of plant basic helix­loop-helix transcription factors for the improvement of transactivational properties. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1759: 308-318

Chatterjee R, Yuan L (2006) Directed Metabolic Pathway Evolution. Trends in Biotechnology. 24(1): 28-38.

Yuan L, Kurek I, English J, Keenan R (2005) Laboratory-Directed Protein Evolution. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 69(3): 373-392