Sheng-Yang He
Benjamin E. Powell Distinguished Professor of Biology

Interested in the fascinating world of plants, microbes or inter-organismal communication and co-evolution? Please contact Prof. Sheng-Yang He (;

Millions of years of co-evolution between plants and microbes have resulted in an intricate web of attack, counter-attack, decoy, and hijacking mechanisms in biology. Moreover, co-evolution between plants and microbes is greatly impacted by ongoing climate change. In our lab, we probe “host-microbe-climate” interactions to answer the following fundamental questions: (1) How do microbial pathogens infect a susceptible host? (2) How do plants select beneficial microbiomes to ensure health? (3) How do climate conditions impact disease and immunity?      

We use contemporary methods to address these questions, including those commonly used in molecular genetics, genomics, biochemistry, cell biology, bioinformatics, microbiology, plant biology, co-evolution and infectious disease biology.    

Current Research Interests

To flourish in a microbe-rich world, higher eukaryotic organisms have evolved sophisticated signaling, metabolic, and structural pathways configured to promote beneficial microbiomes, while simultaneously resisting pathogen attacks. Millions of years of co-evolution between hosts and microbes have resulted in a fascinating world of attack, counter-attack, deception, and hijacking mechanisms, all of which are essential to our understanding of life on Earth. In our lab, we probe these intricate host-microbe interactions using a model system consisting of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana , its microbiome, and the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae . Our research is designed to answer the following fundamental questions: 1) how do microbial pathogens attack and infect host plants? 2) how do environmental factors impact disease and immunity? and 3) how do plants select and maintain beneficial microbiomes? Results from our studies contribute to the buildup of the foundational knowledge required for translational research to develop long-term solutions to promote plant health and global food security.

Office Hours

9 am - 5 pm daily

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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