Zhigang Liu

Postdoctoral Fellow, Root-Soil-Microbial Interactions

Phone: 306-966-9723

Zhigang Liu joined the Root-Soil-Microbial Interactions group as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2019, supervised by Dr. Leon Kochian.. He is interested in plant biology and the investigation of the plant’s physiological development and the molecular genetic mechanisms involved in crop root architecture during abiotic stress.


Zhigang was born and raised in Harbin, China. He completed his Master’s in Crop Cultivation and Farming at Shenyang Agricultural University in 2013, and received his Ph.D. degree in Plant Nutrition at China Agricultural University in 2018. During his Ph.D. program, he is focused on genetic analysis of maize seedling traits using an association population under two contrasted phosphorus levels in the field. He detected significant SNP loci were related to root traits by genome-wide association study (GWAS), which may contribute to the root-based approach to genetically improve phosphorus use efficiency. Zhigang was awarded a scholarship by the China Scholarship Council and studied as a joint Ph.D. student at Cornell University from December 2015 to November 2017. At Cornell, he collaborated with the staff and postdoctoral fellows in the root system architecture (RSA) group, led by Dr. Leon Kochian. He evaluated the root architecture response characteristics of typical maize inbred lines and found that alternate root 3-dimensional (D) architecture may improve phosphorus efficiency under low phosphorus stress. 


At GIFS, Zhigang is investigating the constitutive versus plastic nature of RSA for different crops in response to soil abiotic stresses, using 2D and 3D phenotyping platforms. In addition, he will image, quantify, and genetically analyze the important RSA traits of cucumber for improving the performance under nutrient-deficient conditions