Yinglong Chen

Dr, Professor (Research), Ph.D., M.Ag., B.S.

  • The University of Western Australia (M087), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

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Personal profile

Research interests

Rhizosphere interactions
Crop growth and physiology in stressed environments
Plant root development, structure and functions
Modelling simulations of root architecture and functions
Diversity and functions of microbes in ecosystems
Mycorrhizal technologies and applications

Biography

Dr Yinglong Chen is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor (research) in the School of Agriculture and Environment, and the Institute of Agriculture, within The University of Western Australia (UWA), Perth, Australia. Prior to his PhD study at Murdoch University (2002–2006), he was an Assistant Professor at Chinese Academy of Forestry’ Research Institute of Tropical Forestry during 1997–2002 and Visiting Research Fellow at CSIRO (1997–1998), INRA (2000), and Murdoch University (2001). 

Yinglong has been working at UWA since June 2006 and was Visiting Fellow at Forschungszentrum Julich, Germany (2014) and Pennsylvania State University, USA (2015). His research at UWA focuses on the structure and functions of plant roots and rhizosphere interactions. He developed a novel phenotyping platform and conducted world-first phenotyping studies for characterising root trait variability among diverse germplasms in major food crops, and their responses to environmental stress. He has published some 250 publications and his research received wide media coverages. Yinglong appeared in the list of World Top Scientists (Top 2%) based on science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators in September 2022 (https://elsevier.digitalcommonsdata.com/datasets/btchxktzyw).

Research

Research outlines

Yinglong’s research focuses on the structure and functions of plant root system, which has been considered as the “next frontier” of agricultural science. Through improving water- and nutrient-use efficiency and enhancing adaption to stressful environments, his research aims to increase agricultural productivity and help continue to feed the world despite the onset of increasing drought and climate change. Yinglong conducts world first phenotyping study on the characterisation of root system architecture in response to edaphic stress and underpinning mechanisms in major food crops. His pioneer research in root system structure, function and rhizosphere interactions has international reputations with large volume of high-quality publications and extensive international collaborations.

  • Development of a novel phenotyping platform for characterising root architecture and functions in world germplasms of major food crops

During the executing the research of ARC DP0988193, Yinglong developed a novel high-throughput phenotyping platform (Functional Plant Biology 2011), initially aimed to characterise root architecture and function in world germplasms of narrow-leafed lupin (Plant and Soil 2011 & 2012; Journal of Experimental Botany 2016). Since 2009, the efficient platform has been extended to other food crops under diverse environments at UWA and collaborative institutions, such as chickpea (Journal of Experimental Botany 2017), wheat (BMC Plant Biology 2020; International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2021; Plant Soil 2022) and barley (Agronomy 2022) at UWA; soybean (Plants 2021; Agriculture 2022; Theoretical and Applied Genetics 2022) at UWA, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University (NWAFU), China; rice (PNAS 2022; Frontiers in Plant Science 2022) at UWA and Nagoya University, Japan; maize at NWAFU (Plant and Soil 2019); wheat at CSIRO A&F Canberra; foxtail millet (Agronomy 2022) at Yulin University, China; pea and soybean at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. This technology has also applied to woody plants to study root system architecture in response to nutrient deficiency for the early growth stage, including Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum) at NWAFU, and Paulownia at University of Bonn, Germany.

For the first time, genotypic variability in root system architecture has been characterised in world collections of narrow-leafed lupin (125 genotypes from 13 countries), bread wheat (184 genotypes from 37 countries; near-isogenic lines; recombinant inbred lines), barley (189 genotypes from Australia and Europe), chickpea (270 genotypes from 29 countries), maize (174 genotypes from China and Serbia), rice (Australia and Japan), soybean (171 genotypes from China; 60 from USA; 350 near-isogenic lines from China) and foxtail millet (65 genotypes from China). The systematic and comprehensive analyses of large set of root trait data in each crop highlight genotype groups that could be crossed to identify the genetic basis of specific root traits, which may help to characterise those traits suitable for targeted genotype selection and breeding for new varieties for efficient use of water and nutrients. The novelty of this platform demonstrates reliability and efficiency in parameterising root models for simulation studies including ROOTMAP and SimRoot, and in studying root responses to various stress, including nutrient deficiency, salinity, cadmium and aluminium toxicity.

  • Integration of phenotyping, genotyping and modelling simulations to unravel the secrets of the rhizosphere

A particular innovation of Yinglong’s research is to integrate his unique phenotyping approach with genotyping (molecular) and modelling studies. Development of a computer modelling tool capable of simulating 3-D root growth and function in diverse genotypes to search for optimality of root systems for a range of environments that breeders select for is a particular innovation in his study (such as in narrow-leafed lupin, Plant Soil 2011, 2013a & 2013b). Novel genes and loci associated with root development, root architecture traits and nutrient-use efficiency, as well as molecular mechanisms underpinning root response to biotic and abiotic stresses in major crops have been identified together with his team and collaborators (example publications: Plant Biotechnology Journal 2020 & 2023; PNAS 2022; Journal of Pineal Research 2020; Chemosphere 2019; Horticulture Research 2018; Theoretical and Applied Genetics 2022; Frontiers in Plant Science 2021; Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 2013, 2021 & 2022).

The recent award of ARC Future Fellowship is truly a very significant and important recognition of Yinglong’s skills and capability in research. Through this Fellowship, Yinglong aims to establish breakthrough knowledge of how root system architecture, root exudates and rhizosphere microbiome interact together in mediating phosphorus mobilisation and dynamics from macroscale to nanoscale levels. The over-arching goal of this Fellowship is to explore the capability of root phenotyping, soil zymography, and combined 2D high-resolution imaging secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS) and stable isotopic probing (NaoSIP) with 3D structural visualisation technique for understanding the mechanisms of root architecture and exudates that govern selection and activity of the microbial communities, and the process of Pi mobilisation and dynamics in the biogeochemical interfaces. The project builds on the established multi-disciplinary approaches during his recent research and his network of collaborators. The outcomes of this work will be new discoveries into biogeochemistry, physioecology and cell biology, from the molecular to the cellular level, providing new opportunities to the improvement of crop phosphorus-use efficiency and production.

Publications

Yinglong has some 260 publications, including four scholarly text books, three edited books, one translated textbook (mycorrhizal research manual), 9 invited book chapters, and over 240 peer-reviewed articles, including some 190 publications in Journal Impact Factor (JIF) journals (Web of Science) with a total journal impact factor (IF) of 950. Yinglong has published 137 articles in the JCR Q1 journals including 63 in the Top 10% journals in the disciplines/subjects of Agriculture/Agronomy/Plant Sciences, such as Plant Biotechnology Journal (IF=13.263), Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS) (IF=12.779), Journal of Pineal Research (IF=12.081), Science of the Total Environment (IF=10.753), Science China - Life Sciences (IF=10.420), New Phytologist (10.323), and Chemosphere (8.943). 

Yinglong has published 151 articles in the past 5 years (2018.1-2022.12) including 108 in the Q1 journals (50 in the Top 10% journals). As of September/October 2022, Yinglong has six Highly Cited papers on Web of Science (Essential Science Indicators)

Collaborations

Yinglong has established strong collaborations with world-known leading scientists at top ranked institutions. He has collaborated with researchers from Asia (13 countries and regions), Europe (16), Africa (3), USA, Australia and New Zealand (see UWA Repository Network). He was a visiting fellow at CSIRO, Pennsylvania State University, Forschungszentrum Julich, and Nagoya University. He is an Adjunct Professor at Northwest A&F University, Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, and Guest Professor at 5 other institutions. 

Media coverages

Yinglong’s research outcomes have received over 30 media coverages since 2015, including University News, GRDC GroundCover, The Independent (UK), The Conversation, Eco-Business, Newsweek, Grain Central, Farm Online National, Science X Network, and Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, etc. Yinglong’s research outcomes were also attracted an Pre-recorded Interview Hosted by Tara De Landgrafft of ABC Rural and Resources Report Program of ABC Radio.

Industrial relevance

Yinglong’s primary research work, which has an explicit industry focus, means that his work passes straight through to industry. The extent of outreach through the Institute of Agriculture is a central element of this outreach and impact. Yinglong’s research activities and research outcomes have been widely communicated to the public promoting public awareness of UWA research. He has given some 30 conference presentations, and over 20 public lectures to various groups both domestically and internationally. In 2021 as an example, Yinglong was an invited speaker at The 10th Asia Crop Science Association Conference, and chaired “Root Genetics and Breeding” session, Nagoya, Japan. He presented a Plenary talk at Australian Society of Plant Scientists ASPS 2021 meeting at UWA. Through his efforts co-ordinating conferences and international symposiums, Yinglong has been able to share knowledge with industry and other members of the pre-breeding and plant breeding community. Findings in phenotyping root system architecture among a large collection of world germplasm of narrow-leafed lupin during DP0988193 form a basis for breeding programs. He provided genetic materials such as selected genotypes with contrasting root properties and datasets to Dr Jonathan Clements and his team at DPIRD to produce hybrid lines with suitable root morphological traits for efficient water and nutrient use and improved adaption to adverse environments. Achievements in barley root study (DP130104825 & DP160104434) have been used by Dr David Moody of InterGrain for breeding potential cultivars tolerant to drought in Western Australia. Yinglong (together with Prof Siddique) attracted $1.14 m research fund from Virtue Australia Foundation to evaluate and develop castor bean (bioenergy plant) as a commercial crop in WA (2017–2021) and worked closely with Zenith Australia Group and local farmers. Yinglong’s work is dedicated to address a material challenge that the global community faces: how to maintain and increase agricultural production in a drying climate. This work is an all-consuming passion and he devotes much of his after-hour time to progressing this important research. This volunteering of his time to work on a pressing global challenge is a kind of genuine contribution to the community and identifiable benefits outside of academia.

Engagement

Yinglong has provide extensive service to a wide community. As invited referee / assessor, Yinglong provided his service in evaluate grant applications to Australian Research Council (ARC), European Research Council (ERC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), American University of Beirut research grants, National Scientific Research Fund of Belgium (FRS-FNRS), and National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC), and PhD thesis examinations for institutions from several countries.

Yinglong has a significant editorial role in several international journals including Frontiers in Plant Science, Rhizosphere, Agriculture, Plant and Soil, BMC Plant Biology, and guest Edited Special Issues in Plant and Soil (x3), Frontiers in Plant Science (x3), JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) (x1) and MDPI journals (x5). He is a regular invited reviewer for some 50 international journals.

Yinglong is a member of International Society of Root Research (ISRS), International Mycorrhiza Society (IMS), Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS), Australasian Grain Science Association (AGSA), Chinese Society for Microbiology, Mycorrhizal Association of China, Crop Science Society of China, Asian Crop Science Association, Royal Society of Western Australia (RSWA), etc

Yinglong has helped the establishment or renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Letter of Extension between UWA and Chinese institutions related to agricultural research, including China Agricultural University, NWAFU, Huazhong Agricultural University, Shenyang Agricultural University, and Lanzhou University.

Yinglong has brought more than 40 visiting research students and visiting research fellows and professors (6-24 months visit each) from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and Iran together with other colleagues, and supervised their research, provided training and other supports. Yinglong organised training lectures and glasshouse demonstrations for visiting groups of undergraduate students from NWAFU, South China Agricultural University, Yangzhou University, Shanghai Vocational College of Agriculture and & Forestry, etc as part of Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT) Study Tour Programs. He also provided training for two master students from Nagoya University and one undergraduate student from Zhejiang University (each stayed two months at UWA) as part of UWA International Research Training Program (IRTR), and a number of working-experience students. Yinglong has helped hosting a number of international collaborators for short-term academic visits to UWA, including those from Kansas State University, Missouri University, Nagoya University, Forschungszentrum Juelich, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, University of Ghana, Northwest A&F University Lanzhou University, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Science, Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Yinglong often demonstrates on-going research at UWA glasshouses, laboratories and Shenton Park Field Stations for some of our school and institute visitors, such as a group of students from Kelmscott Senior High School, Shenton College for their work placement experience. Yinglong volunteered in UWA Open Day as school representatives, prepared plants and seeds of various legume species for Royal Show and UWA Future Farm demonstration. He has actively participated in evaluating and interviewing international applicants for applying PhD scholarships, marking theses/dissertations of our researcher students, and chairing (Convenor) supervisors committee of PhD students.

Significance to the school and university

One of important strategic directions in the School is research toward understanding the soil-root interactions as a stepping-stone for designing genotypes better adapted to nutrient-poor soils and drying climate. The combination of phenotyping, genotyping and simulation modelling of root architecture and function in diverse genotypes allows streamlining the selection process in the breeding programmes, and thus shortening the time for development of desirable genotypes with optimal root structure and function for agricultural environments that are under increasing water-limitation pressure. Traditionally, crop breeding concentrated on the yield components of the above-ground growth, but there is currently a strong recognition of a crucial role roots play in soil profiles that are becoming increasingly water and nutrient limited due to variable and changing climate. Hence, one of important strategic directions in the School is research toward understanding the soil-root interactions as a steppingstone for designing genotypes better adapted to our nutrient-poor soils and our drying climate.

Yinglong’s study has potential to accelerate the breeding program for incorporating traits and by linking with available molecular genome findings and root model simulations. His research at the interface of root physiology, crop genetics and simulation modelling plays an leading role in enhancing our capacity to contribute to improved profitability and sustainability of agriculture and therefore to food security in Australia and the world. His work enhances UWA reputation in pre-breeding research (which is one of the strategic directions of the School), and takes it a step further by placing UWA in a strong position to contribute its phenotyping and modelling expertise to breeding commercial crop varieties in collaboration with breeding companies including InterGrain. Our School and university will benefit from his research through improved relationship with cereal breeders.

Yinglong’s achievements in research can been seen through his high-quality publications and international reputations. The number of JCR Q1 papers, category normalised citation index (CNCI) and international collaborations (IC), are all well above the Global average, demonstrating his contribution to university’s global ranking such as ARWU 2020/2021. This is also one of our school strategies to encourage staff to focus on as it highly influential in the overall ARWU subject rankings.

Yinglong’s research in the frontiers of agricultural science is well positioned and his long-term employment is strategic importance to UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, UWA Institute of Agriculture, and the University. There are opportunities available for both research and teaching. The success in the ARC Future Fellowship application enables him to further develop the research capacity by integrating multidisciplinary techniques (root biology, microbiology and biogeochemistry) to track root-microbe-mineral interactions in the rhizosphere and to unravel rhizosphere processes. In the longer term, the knowledge built in this study will be applied to other major crops grown in Australia. During the Fellowship, Yinglong will actively work closely with HoS and participate in more activities in teaching and services, in addition to research. There are also opportunities to develop new units for undergraduates and postgraduates, promote international collaborations in joint degrees, and attract more students from his long-term collaborative institutions, such as NWAFU and CAS in China.

Current projects

Australian Research Council (FT210100902) Unravelling the Secrets of the Rhizosphere of Crops (2022/01–2025/12) $786,690

UWA Research Collaboration Awards (2022/GR000814) Linking Phenotyping with Genotyping to Discover Novel Genes and QTLs Regulating Important Root Architecture Traits in Soybean Germplasm (2022/07–2022/12) $19,067

Funding overview

  • Past grants funded to UWA (2009–2021):

Virtue Australia Foundation Evaluation and Development of Castor Bean as a Commercial Crop in Australia (2017/01–2021/12) $1,144,186 (Chief Investigator)

UWA Research Collaboration Awards Characterising Root Traits for Efficient Water and Nutrient Acquisition in Barley (2014/01–2015/12) $17,800 (Project Leader & Chief Investigator)

Universities Australia Go8–DAAD German Research Cooperation Phenotyping and Simulation of Barley Root Architecture for Edaphic Stress Adaption [with Prof. Zdenko Rengel, in collaboration with Drs. Johannes Postma, and Tobias Wojciechowski, Forschungszentrum Juelich, Germany] (2013/01–2014/12) $19,200 (Co-project Leader & Chief Investigator)

ARC (DP160104434) Optimising Crop Root Systems to Enhance Capture of Soil Water and Nutrients [CI: Prof. Zdenko Rengel; PI: Dr. Arthur Diggle, Prof. Guihua Bai (USA)] (2016/01–2018/12) $447,000 (Named in the proposals; contributed to the grant applications; led and executed the research)

ARC (DP130104825) Modelling Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Rhizosphere Exudation [CI: Prof. Zdenko Rengel, PI: Dr. Arthur Diggle] (2013/01–2015/12) $330,000 (Named in the proposals; contributed to the grant applications; led and executed the research)

ARC (DP0988193) Using Modelling to Optimise the Structure and Function of Crop Root Systems for Dryland Agriculture [CI: Prof. Zdenko Rengel, Prof. Kadambot Siddique; PI: Dr. Arthur Diggle, Prof. Jonathan Lynch (USA)] (2009/01–2011/12) $420,000 (Named in the proposals; contributed to the grant applications; led and executed the research)

ICARDA ex CGIAR Competitive Grants Phenotyping Root Traits in Chickpea Core Collection [CI: Prof. Kadambot Siddique, PI: Dr. Michel Ghanem (Morocco), Prof. Rajeev Varshney (India)] (2014/01–2015/12) $201,700 (Named in the proposals; contributed to the grant applications; led and executed the research)

  • Participated in other projects at UWA (20062008):

ARC (DP0342496) PCR Typing of P35 (Anti-apoptosis Gene) and Cloning the Reduced Mycorrhizal Colonization (rmc) Locus of Tomato; ACIAR (CSI/1999/072 – ex University of Melbourne) Oilseed Brassica improvement in China, India and Australia; Australian Flora Foundation Harnessing native Fabaceae for Agriculture – The Importance of Mycorrhizal Fungi; Worsley Alumina Pty Ltd Quantifying The Rate Of Seedling Establishment For Native Species Used At Boddington Bauxite Mine; ARC (LP0669766) Molecular Approaches for the Exploitation of Genetic Diversity in Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.); Australian Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) Improved Herbicide Tolerance for Pulses in the Western Region; Gindalbie Metals Resolution of the Taxonomic Status and Genetic Variation in Lepidosperma (funded to Botanic Gardens and Parks Authorities)

  • Past grants funded to Institute of Water and Land Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, & Northwest A&F University, China (2014–2018):

Chinese Academy of Sciences “100 Talents Program” Optimising Root Systems for High Yielding and Efficient Resource Acquisition on the Loess Plateau (2014/05–2018/04) 

China National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC31471946) Modelling Root Responses to Localized and Heterogeneous Phosphorus Supplies (2015/01–2018/12) 

  • Past grants funded to Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, China as Assistant Professor (1997–2006):

ACIAR (F/9425) Ectomycorrhizal fungi in Eucalyptus in Southern China (1997/1−2000/12) 

China State Forestry Administration Key Program Synthesis of Tricholoma matsutake with Partially Artificial Method (1996/1−1998/12) 

International Foundation for Science (IFS, Sweden) Competitiveness and Persistence of Australian Ectomycorrhizal Fungi in Eucalyptus plantations in Southern China (1999/3−2002/6) 

Asia Paper and Pulp (APP, Indonesia) Strategies and Practices for High Wood Production of Eucalyptus Plantations in South China (1999/1−2001/12) 

China National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC39870614) Mechanism of Tree-Fungus Symbiosis (1999/1−2001/12) 

China State Forestry Administration “948” Program Black Truffles - Resources and Cultivation (in collaborating with Hunan Academy of Forestry, Changsha, China; INAR, Nancy, France) (2000/1−2002/12) 

Centre for International Forestry Organization Research (CIFOR, Indonesia) Forest Products and People – Non-timber Forest Projects (2000/1−2003/12) 

Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong, China Effect of Mycorrhizal Fungi in Prevention from Bacterial Wilt (2000/1−2003/12) 

Agricultural Research Committee of Guangzhou City Edible Mycorrhizal Fungi in Liuxihe National Forest Park, Guangzhou (2000/1−2002/12) 

International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO, Japan) Technology Development and Demonstration on Reforestation Using Tropical Hardwood Species in Yunnan Province of China (2001/1−2002/12) 

Chinese Academy of Forestry Key Program Mycorrhiza Status in Endangered Parashorea chinensis (Dipterocarpaceae) (2002/1−2004/12) 

China State Forestry Administration “948” Program Drought-resistant Woody Plants for Land Restoration in Hot-dry Valley Area in Southwest China (2002/1−2005/12) 

International Foundation for Science (IFS, Sweden) Phylogeny of Scleroderma Fungi and Their Symbiotic Status with Eucalypts (2003/3−2006/2) 

  • Participated in other grants as an International Collaborator (2002–2012):

China State Forestry Administration, New Product and Technology Trialling Project Application of N2-fixing Frankia in Reforestation of Shelter Forest Belt; China Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST2005EA169010) National Star Program Development and Application of Bio-fertilizer in Agriculture; China National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC30871737) Community Structure and Function of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Protected Soil; China National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC31272210) Root Knot Nematode Resistant Mechanisms Mediated By Arbuscule Structures in Cucumber Mycorrhiza 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Guest Professor (Lotus Scholar), Hunan Normal University

Jan 2020Dec 2022

Guest Professor, Shanxi Agricultural University

Oct 2019Oct 2022

Adjunct Professor, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University

Sep 2015 → …

Adjuct Professor, CAS - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation

May 2014 → …

Adjunct Professor, Hebei University

Mar 2014Feb 2017

Guest Professor, Qingdao Agricultural University

Oct 2013 → …

Industry keywords

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Environmental
  • Biotechnology
  • Education

Research expertise keywords

  • Rhizosphere interactions
  • Crop growth and stress physiology
  • Root development, structure and functions
  • Modelling simulation of root architecture and functions
  • Diversity and functions of soil microbes in ecosystems
  • Mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia inoculation technologies
  • Edible and medicinal mushrooms

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