Yongjian Qiu

Assistant Professor of Integrative Plant Biologist (Biology)

Yongjian Qiu

Dr. Yongjian Qiu is an Assistant Professor of Integrative Plant Biology, focusing on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that enable plants to respond to environmental cues like elevated temperatures and gravity.

Research Interests

Global climate change has led to significant fluctuations in growth temperatures, profoundly affecting plant development, physiology, and morphology, including growth rates, flowering times, immunity, and crop yields. My laboratory is committed to understanding how plants adjust their developmental programs in response to these temperature variations, crucial for sustaining crop productivity. We employ genetic, molecular, cellular, biochemical, and genomic approaches to explore plant responses to ambient temperature changes. Current Projects: 1) Transcriptional Regulation in Plant Thermomorphogenesis: Plants are acutely sensitive to temperature changes, with even a 1°C variation affecting growth and development. Our research focuses on Thermosensory Transcription Factors (TTFs), particularly the role of PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4), which drives warm temperature-induced plant elongation. We investigate the regulation of PIF4 expression, activity, and protein stability in response to temperature changes through genetic and bioinformatic analyses. 2) Cell-Cell Communications in Plant Thermal Responses: Although many protein factors involved in plant thermoregulation have been identified, the complexities of their spatial and temporal modulation are still largely unknown. We aim to uncover the mechanisms of intercellular, intertissue, and interorgan communication and coordination in response to temperature changes, employing a two-pronged approach: perturbing specific components to observe systemic effects and modulating the entire system to study impacts on individual elements. 3) Tracking the Dynamics of Heat Stress Signal Transduction in Plants: Heat stress adversely affects growth and development across all organisms. By studying heat stress tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana, we seek to identify evolutionarily conserved defense mechanisms. This research could reveal new pathways that enhance thermotolerance, potentially impacting the resilience of various species.


Dr. Qiu earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 2006, followed by a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Washington State University in 2011. During his postdoctoral work with Dr. Meng Chen at Duke University and the University of California-Riverside, he specialized in plant light signaling, particularly investigating phytochrome-mediated photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. In 2019, Dr. Qiu joined the University of Mississippi as an Assistant Professor of Integrative Plant Biology. The Qiu Lab's research primarily explores how plants integrate external and internal signals to modulate growth and development, emphasizing plant responses to light and temperature. These two critical environmental factors influence nearly all aspects of plant biology. The overarching aim of his research is to enhance the functional traits of economic crops to better withstand global climate change, through a collaborative approach that leverages multidisciplinary insights from the Qiu Lab and the broader scientific community.


Microheaters have drawn extensive attention for their substantial applications in thermotherapy, gas sensors, thin film preparation, biological research, etc. In plant physiology, uncovering the mechanisms by which plants sense and respond to environmental temperature fluctuations will help us better understand the impact of climate change on crop yield and ecosystem resilience. Currently, microheaters with long-term heating capability have rarely been applied to investigate plant thermal responses. In this study, we applied a direct writing technique to fabricate microheaters suitable for studying plant thermal biology with silver conductive ink. The optimal printing conditions and the heating performance (e.g., stability, durability, reusability) of the printed heaters were thoroughly characterized. The printed microheaters can provide stable and constant heating to plant organs for over four days. When placed near plant leaves to create localized heating, the microheater could successfully activate the expression of a thermoresponsive marker gene in plants. These results demonstrate the potential of applying printed microheaters to study plant thermal biology at the organ and tissue level.


Ph.D. Horticulture, Washington State University (2011)