General Lab Information

Chang-Jun Liu

BI Plant Science, Biology Department

Chang-Jun Liu

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Biology Department
Bldg. 463
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-2966
cliu@bnl.gov

Principal Investigator

Background

Chang-Jun Liu earned his Ph.D. in 1999 at the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology, Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Science. In 2005, Chang-Jun Liu joined Brookhaven National Laboratory Biology Department working on research projects centered on phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, protein structure-function and engineering, cell wall lignocellulosic biogenesis and modification funded by DOE.

Expertise | Research | Appointments | Highlights | Awards


Expertise

Our current research interests are primarily centered on the understanding of phenylpropanoid-lignin biosynthesis and the related regulatory mechanisms by which the plants employed to control the biosynthetic activity. We direct our researches to addressing the following questions: 1) How lignin and the related simple phenolics are synthesized and incorporated into cell walls; 2) how the synthesis, deposition and assembly processes are regulated at both transcriptional level and protein level; and 3) how lignification affects the structure and function of the cell walls. Ultimately we anticipate applying our knowledge gained from such fundamental studies to develop more effective strategies to manipulate lignification process, thereby lowering the recalcitrance of cell wall biomass for cost- effective production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

Research Activities

Phenylpropanoid Metabolism: Biosynthesis and Regulation

As the principal solar energy converter on Earth, plants effectively capture energy from sunlight and store it as reduced carbon through the process of photosynthesis. The fixed carbon is transported from source tissues to non-photosynthetic sink tissues, where it is allocated to the myriad of metabolic pathways including phenylpropanoid metabolism. Phenylpropanoid metabolism generates C6-C3 skeletons that are used to build a diverse array of phenolic compounds, including the methanolic soluble metabolites flavonoids/anthocyanins, stilbenes, coumarins and lignans, and the intractable cell wall polymer lignin. These phenolic metabolites possess diverse biological functions essential for plant growth and development, and plant- environmental interactions. In particular, as a structural component of plant secondary cell walls, lignin imparts strength, rigidity and water impermeability to plant vasculature, thus assuring the conductance of water and nutrients. Lignified secondary cell walls represent the most abundant bulk biomass of terrestrial plants. They are the renewable raw materials for pulping and paper making, and for producing bio-based chemicals and biofuels. However, on the other hand, the presence of lignin in cell wall impedes the enzymatic release of simple sugars from cell wall polysaccharides, thus lowering the fermentative production of cellulosic biofuels. Therefore, tailoring lignin biosynthesis is essential for the efficient utilization of cellulosic biomass resources. Since cell wall lignification is an irreversible biological process, it is under the tight control in respect to the carbon source allocation. A better understanding of the biochemical and regulatory mechanisms controlling carbon skeleton channeled into phenylpropanoid-lignin metabolism is critical for tailoring the biosynthetic activity for the purpose of producing renewable biofuels and bio-based products.

Professional Appointments

  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Phytochemical Society of North America
  • American Chemistry Society
  • International Collaborative Research and Renovation for Plant Metabolism, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2009-2012)
  • Biochemistry and Structural Biology Graduate Program, Stony Brook University (2006-present)

Research Highlights

Awards & Recognition

  • The Excellent Presidential Scholarship Award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (1998)
  • The Director’s Award of Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology (1998)
  • The Excellent Research Award, Shanghai-Beckman Life Science Foundation (1998)
  • The Excellent Scientific Researcher Award, Shanghai-Unilever (Britain) Developing Foundation (1998)
  • The Noble Foundation Postdoctoral Excellence Award (2003)
Chang-Jun Liu

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Biology Department
Bldg. 463
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-2966
cliu@bnl.gov

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