Professor Qiaoquan Liu is now a Principal Investigator and the Director of the Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics of the Ministry of Education, Yangzhou University, Jiangsu Province, China. Dr. Liu was awarded his PhD of Agronomy from Yangzhou University in 2002. After completing his postdoctoral research in Prof. Samual Sun’s lab at Department of Biology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Liu was recruited as an associate professor of crop genetics and breeding by Yangzhou University in 2005, and then as a full professor in 2008.  Dr. Liu’s laboratory is mainly interested in molecular genetics and improvement of rice grain quality, and his group is also a member laboratory of National Centre for Plant Gene Research (Shanghai) supported the central government of China. Dr. Liu is now the Associate Editor of Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, and the Editorial Board Member of Acta Agronomica Sinica. Dr. Liu has gave 12 invited plenary/lectures on international and domestic conferences, such as Starch Round Table and AACCI.

Research interests

Professor Liu's interest is in molecular genetics and improvement of rice grain quality, focusing on the elucidation of molecular mechanisms underlying the starch biosynthesis in rice and genetic improvement of rice grain quality. His group is also interested in molecular improvement of rice nutritional quality (lysine, vitamin, etc) and grain shape associated with grain appearance quality. Professor Liu’s research is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC), National major projects for breeding new varieties of transgenic organisms, National Key Basic Research Program (also known as “973 Program”) of China. 


  • Bachelor of Agronomy, Yangzhou University, China
  • Master of Agronomy, Yangzhou University, China
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Yangzhou University, China


More than 60 articles in international journals, in the fields of genetic regulation and improvement of rice grain quality.

Yang QQ, Zhang CQ, Chan ML, Zhao DS, Chen JZ, Wang Q, Li QF, Yu HX, Gu MH, Sun SSM, Liu QQ*. Biofortification of rice with the essential amino acid lysine: molecular characterisation, nutritional evaluation and field performance. Journal of Experimental Botany, 2016, 67(14): 4285-4296

Zhang CQ, Zhou LH, Zhu ZB, Lu HW, Zhou XZ, Qian YT, Li QF, Lu Y, Gu MH, Liu QQ*. Characterization of grain quality and starch fine structure of two japonica rice (Oryza sativa) cultivars with good sensory properties at different temperatures during the filling stage. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2016, 64 (20): 4048-4057

Zhao DS, Zhang CQ, Li QF, Yang QQ, Gu MH, Liu QQ*. A residue substitution in the plastid ribosomal protein L12/AL1 produces defective plastid ribosome and causes early seedling lethality in rice. Plant Molecular Biology, 2016, 91(1): 161-177

Zhang GY, Liu RR, Zhang CQ, Tang KX, Sun MF, Yan GH, Liu QQ*. Manipulation of the rice L-galactose pathway: evaluation of the effects of transgene overexpression on ascorbate accumulation and abiotic stress tolerance. PLoS One, 2015, 10(5): e0125870

Che LX&, Wang KJ&, Tang D&, Liu QQ&, Chen XJ, Li YF, Hu Q, Shen Y, Yu HX, Gu MH, Cheng ZK*. OsHUS1 facilitates accurate meiotic recombination in rice. PLoS Genetics, 2014, 10(6):e1004405 (& Equal contributors)

Zhang H, Duan L, Dai JS, Zhang CQ, Li J, Gu MH, Liu QQ*, Zhu Y*. Major QTLs reduce the deleterious effects of high temperature on rice amylose content by increasing splicing efficiency of Wx pre-mRNA, Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 2014, 127(2): 273-282 

Long XH&, Liu QQ&, Chan ML, Wang Q, Sun SSM*. Metabolic engineering and profiling of rice with increased lysine. Plant Biotechnology Journal. 2013, 11(4): 490-501 (& Equal contributors)

Zhu LJ, Gu MH, Meng XL, Cheung SCK, Yu HX, Huang J, Sun Y, Shi YC*, Liu QQ*, High-amylose rice improves indices of animal health in normal and diabetic rats. Plant Biotechnology Journal. 2012, 10(3): 353-362

Zhang H, Zhao Q, Sun ZZ, Zhang CQ, Feng Q, Tang SZ, Liang GH, Gu MH, Han B, Liu QQ*. Developing and high-throughput genotyping of substitution lines carried chromosome segments of indica 9311 in the background of japonica Nipponbare. Journal of Genetics and Genomics, 2011, 38(12): 603-611

Zhang CQ, Zhang GY, Lu Y, Xu Y, Yu HX, Gu MH, Liu QQ*. The WRKY transcription factor OsWRKY78 regulates stem elongation and seed development in rice. Planta, 2011, 234(3): 541-554

Wei CX, Xu B, Qin FL, Yu HG, Chen C, Meng XL, Zhu LJ, Wang YP, Gu MH, Liu QQ*. C-type starch of high-amylose rice resistant starch granules modified by antisense RNA inhibition of starch branching enzyme, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010, 58(12): 7383-7388

Tian ZX&, Qian Q&, Liu QQ&, Yan MX, Liu XF, Yan CJ, Liu GF, Gao ZY, Tang SZ, Zeng DL, Wang YH, Yu JM, Gu MH* & Li JY*. Allelic diversities in rice starch biosynthesis lead to a diverse array of rice eating and cooking qualities. PNAS, 2009, 106(51): 21760-21765 (& Equal contributors)


Novel rice for improved starch quality: allelic mining, genetic regulation, and structural & functional properties 
(2016-2020), National Natural Science Foundation of China

Molecular regulation and metabolic connection of lysine metabolism in rice seed  
(2015-2018), National Natural Science Foundation of China

Cloning and Functional analysis of key genes involving in rice grain quality 
(2014-2017), National major projects for breeding new varieties of transgenic organisms

Mechanisms on the molecular regulation of starch accumulation in rice endosperm 
(2012-2016), National Key Basic Research Program of China “973 Program”


Past and present supervision of 6 postdoctoral fellows, 14 PhD and 58 MSc students, and 54 honours students. 

Available research projects

Novel rice for improved starch quality  – Allelic mining, genetic regulation, and structural & functional properties 

Rice quality is a very complex trait, diversifying in different varieties. In rice endosperm, the starch comprises about 90% of the dry matter, and the grain quality was greatly affected by starch composition and structure. Therefore, the starch biosynthesis might play a crucial role in the formation of rice quality, especially the cooking and eating quality. So, it is very important and useful for improvement of grain quality to reveal the molecular regulation of those important genes involving in starch metabolism. We focus on the genetic regulation of starch biosynthesis as well as the structure and functionility of starches, and the following research acitivities are being carried out: (1) allele mining and functional validation of starch synthesis related genes, (2) mapping and cloning of potential new genes/QTLs determining starch quality, (3) revealing of the genetic interaction among these important genes (or their major alleles), (4) underlying the relationship between starch genetics, structures and functional properties. By using the near-isogenic lines and transgenic lines, and modern molecular, biochemical and instrument analytical techniques, we expect to understand the functions and interactions of the above important genes (alleles), and give more useful knowledges to elucidate the genetic basis of starch quality formation in rice.


Molecular regulation and metabolic connection of lysine metabolism in rice seed

Plants collectively synthesize lots of metabolites, which exhibit diverse functions during plant growth, development as well as quality formation. Lysine is the first limiting essential amino acid in cereal crops, especially in rice, and its synthesis and degradation is regulated by a complex metabolic network. It has a strong metabolic connection with the other pathway such as the cellular energy metabolism, revealing the multifaceted role of aspartate-family pathway in plant metabolism. We engineered rice for increased lysine through transgenic regulation of either lysine biosynthesis or its catabolism. With the aim to better understand the metabolic regulation of lysine accumulation in rice, we are now comparing for the transcriptome and metabolome among the different above transgenic lines by using system biological methods. The expected data and results will being made to understand biological processes associated with the lysine metabolism, as well as its regulation mechanisms, and its importance for optimal improvement of the nutritional quality of crops.