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Hai Wang

Hai Wang

Institute of Biotechnology, Cornell University

Summary of my work

Maize is one of the most important crops worldwide, with its total production surpassing that of rice or wheat. Maize genetics has been studied for more than a century. However, the genetic basis of yield-related traits in maize is still obscure. To date, only few yield-controlling genes have been identified and functionally characterized, due to the complex genetic architecture of yield-related traits in maize and that the yield is often coordinately controlled by a large number of loci in most genetic populations. To identify novel genes controlling maize yield, we focus our research on identification of yield-related mutants from mutant libraries and also collected landraces with extreme yield-related phenotypes. From the germplasm, we clone yield-related genes or QTLs using high-throughput techniques, such as MutMap and QTL-Seq. In our research, superior alleles of important yield controlling genes are also identified from natural populations to facilitate marker-assisted breeding.

While at Cornell, my objective is to use cutting-edge tools in artificial intelligence such as convolutional networks to dissect gene expression regulation in maize. Recent advances have increased our ability to sequence genomes at low cost, but the potential of DNA-to-RNA prediction for identifying key sequence features in transcriptional regulation remains largely unexplored. We have developed several machine learning (ML) models that take as input genomic regions flanking the coding sequences, and predict the expression patterns of corresponding genes. We are dissecting these models with several tools to identify important regions/motifs that control gene expression. These models are helpful for us to better understand maize gene regulation, and are potentially applicable in maize breeding and genomic prediction.

Impacts in China

As the world's second largest producer of maize, China still needs to import ~3000 metric tons of maize annually and the demand for maize remains increasing, with rapid development of poultry and livestock industries. Therefore, research and technology development for improving maize productivity is becoming more important in China, especially for regions constrained by limited arable land and water resources. My research aims to address the above-mentioned challenge in maize production in China by identification of yield-controlling genes and QTLs for maize improvement and by dissecting gene expression regulation for maize breeding and genomic prediction.


  1. Wang, Hai, Guangxia Wu, Binbin Zhao, Baobao Wang, Zhihong Lang, Chunyi Zhang, and Haiyang Wang. 2016. “Regulatory Modules Controlling Early Shade Avoidance Response in Maize Seedlings.” BMC Genomics 17 (March): 269.
  2. Li, Shengyan*, Hai Wang*, Fengqi Li, Zhongliang Chen, Xiuying Li, Li Zhu, Guirong Wang, Jingjuan Yu, Dafang Huang, and Zhihong Lang. 2015. “The Maize Transcription Factor EREB58 Mediates the Jasmonate-Induced Production of Sesquiterpene Volatiles.” The Plant Journal 84 (2): 296–308.
  3. Wang, Hai, and Haiyang Wang. 2015. “Phytochrome Signaling: Time to Tighten up the Loose Ends.” Molecular Plant 8 (4): 540–51.
  4. Wang, Hai, and Haiyang Wang. 2015. “The miR156/SPL Module, a Regulatory Hub and Versatile Toolbox, Gears up Crops for Enhanced Agronomic Traits.” Molecular Plant 8 (5): 677–88.
  5. Wang, Hai, and Haiyang Wang. 2015. “Multifaceted Roles of FHY3 and FAR1 in Light Signaling and beyond.” Trends in Plant Science 20 (7): 453–61.
  6. Xie, Yurong, Yang Liu, Hai Wang, Xiaojing Ma, Baobao Wang, Guangxia Wu, and Haiyang Wang. 2017. “Phytochrome-Interacting Factors Directly Suppress MIR156 Expression to Enhance Shade-Avoidance Syndrome in Arabidopsis.” Nature Communications 8 (1): 348.
  7. Liu, Yang, Yurong Xie, Hai Wang, Xiaojing Ma, Wenjun Yao, and Haiyang Wang. 2017. “Light and Ethylene Coordinately Regulate the Phosphate Starvation Response through Transcriptional Regulation of PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE1.” The Plant Cell 29 (9): 2269–84.
  8. Wang, Hai, Shengbing Wang, Yuqing Lu, Sophie Alvarez, Leslie M. Hicks, Xiaochun Ge, and Yiji Xia. 2012. “Proteomic Analysis of Early-Responsive Redox-Sensitive Proteins in Arabidopsis.” Journal of Proteome Research 11 (1): 412–24.
  9. Wang, Hai, Shengbing Wang, and Yiji Xia. 2012. “Identification and Verification of Redox-Sensitive Proteins in Arabidopsis Thaliana.” In Plant Signalling Networks: Methods and Protocols, edited by Zhi-Yong Wang and Zhenbiao Yang, 83–94. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.
  10. Wang, Hai*, Shengyan Li*, Shouzhen Teng, Haisheng Liang, Hongjia Xin, Hongjiang Gao, Dafang Huang, and Zhihong Lang. 2017. “Transcriptome Profiling Revealed Novel Transcriptional Regulators in Maize Responses to Ostrinia Furnacalis and Jasmonic Acid.” PloS One 12 (5): e0177739.
  11. Wang, Hai, Qin Liang, Kaiming Cao, and Xiaochun Ge. 2011. “Endogenous Protein Mono-ADP-Ribosylation in Arabidopsis Thaliana.” Planta 233 (6): 1287–92.
  12. Wang, Hai*, Yuqing Lu*, Tiantian Jiang, Howard Berg, Cong Li, and Yiji Xia. 2013. “The Arabidopsis U-box/ARM Repeat E3 Ligase AtPUB4 Influences Growth and Degeneration of Tapetal Cells, and Its Mutation Leads to Conditional Male Sterility.” The Plant Journal 74 (3): 511–23.
  13. Wang, Hai, Yuqing Lu, Pei Liu, Wei Wen, Jianhua Zhang, Xiaochun Ge, and Yiji Xia. 2013. “The Ammonium/nitrate Ratio Is an Input Signal in the Temperature-Modulated, SNC1-Mediated and EDS1-Dependent Autoimmunity of nudt6-2 nudt7.” The Plant Journal 73 (2): 262–75.
  14. Li, Shengyan, Zeyu Wang, Yiyao Zhou, Changhui Li, Guiping Wang, Hai Wang, Jie Zhang, Gemei Liang, and Zhihong Lang. 2018. “Expression of cry2Ah1 and Two Domain II Mutants in Transgenic Tobacco Confers High Resistance to Susceptible and Cry1Ac-Resistant Cotton Bollworm.” Scientific Reports 8 (1): 508.
  15. Liu, Pei, Huoming Zhang, Hai Wang, and Yiji Xia. 2014. “Identification of Redox-Sensitive Cysteines in the Arabidopsis Proteome Using OxiTRAQ, a Quantitative Redox Proteomics Method.” Proteomics 14 (6): 750–62.
  16. Lu, Yuqing, Cong Li, Hai Wang, Hao Chen, Howard Berg, and Yiji Xia. 2011. “AtPPR2, an Arabidopsis Pentatricopeptide Repeat Protein, Binds to Plastid 23S rRNA and Plays an Important Role in the First Mitotic Division during Gametogenesis and in Cell Proliferation during Embryogenesis.” The Plant Journal 67 (1): 13–25.
  17. Sun, He, Ni Zhou, Hai Wang, Dafang Huang, and Zhihong Lang. 2017. “Processing and Targeting of Proteins Derived from Polyprotein with 2A and LP4/2A as Peptide Linkers in a Maize Expression System.” PloS One 12 (3): e0174804.
  18. Wang, Xiaofeng, Hai Wang, Yuanli Li, Kaiming Cao, and Xiaochun Ge. 2009. “A Rice Lipid Transfer Protein Binds to Plasma Membrane Proteinaceous Sites.” Molecular Biology Reports 36 (4): 745–50.
  19. Ge, Xiaochun, Hai Wang, and Kaiming Cao. 2008. “Transformation by T-DNA Integration Causes Highly Sterile Phenotype Independent of Transgenes in Arabidopsis Thaliana.” Plant Cell Reports 27 (8): 1341–48.