Fang Chen, Ph.D. | Department of Biological Sciences

Fang Chen, Ph.D.

Research Professor
Room #B328
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203
Ph.D. Agricultural/Biochemistry, Nagoya University, Japan
Ph.D. Forest Chemistry, South China University of Technology, China
M.Sc. Chemical Engineering, South China University of Technology, China
B.Sc. Chemical Engineering, South China University of Technology, China
Feb/2013 - Present Research Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas
2007 - Present Research Scientist, DOE BioEnergy Science Center; Oklahoma Bioenergy Center
2005 - 2013 Research Scientist, Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK
2002 - 2005 Senior Research Associate II, Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK
1999 - 2002 Postdoctoral Fellow, Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK
1997 - 1999 Japan JSPS Foreign Research Fellow, Laboratory of Forest Chemistry, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
1995 - 1999 Associate Professor, School of Natural Resource Science, South China University of Tech, Guangzhou, China
1993 - 1995 Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resource Science and Paper Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
1987 - 1990 Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming, China
  1. Shen H, Poovaiah CR, Ziebell A, Tschaplinski TJ, Pattathil S, Gjersing E, Engle NL, Katahira R, Pu Y, Sykes R, Chen F, Ragauskas AJ, Mielenz JR, Hahn MG, Davis M, Stewart CN Jr, and Dixon RA. (2013). Enhanced characteristics of genetically modified switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) for high biofuel production. Biotechnol Biofuels. 6(1):71. doi: 10.1186/1754-6834-6-71.
  2. Chen F, Tobamitsu Y, Jackson L, Ralph J and Dixon RA. (2012). Novel seed coat lignins in the Cactaceae: structure, distribution and implications for the evolution of lignin diversity. Plant J. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12012.
  3. Chen F*, Tobimatsu Y*, Havkin-Frenkel D, Dixon RA and Ralph J (2012). (*first co-authors) A polymer of caffeyl alcohol in plant seeds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 109:1772-1777.
  4. Shen H, He XZ, Poovaiah CR, Wuddineh WA, Ma J, Mann DGJ, Wang H, Jackson L, Tang Y, Neal Stewart Jr C, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2012). Functional characterization of the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) R2R3-MYB transcription factor PvMYB4 for improvement of lignocellulosic feedstocks. New Phytologist 193:121-136.
  5. Wang H, Zhao Q, Chen F, Wang M and Dixon RA. (2011). NAC domain function and transcriptional control of a secondary cell wall master switch. Plant J. 68:1104-1114.
  6. Lee Y, Chen F, Gallego-Giraldo L, Dixon RA and Voit EO. (2011). Integrative Analysis of Transgenic Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Suggests New Metabolic Control Mechanisms for Monolignol Biosynthesis. PLoS Comput Biol 7(5): e1002047. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002047.
  7. Fu C, Xiao X, Xi Y, Ge Y, Chen F, Bouton J, Dixon RA and Wang Z. (2011). Downregulation of Cinnamyl Alcohol Dehydrogenase (CAD) Leads to Improved Saccharification Efficiency in Switchgrass. Bioenerg. Res. 4:153-164.
  8. Dien B, Miller D, Hector RE, Dixon RA, Chen F, McCaslin M, Reisen P, Sarath G and Cotta MA. (2011). Enhancing alfalfa conversion efficiencies for sugar recovery and ethanol production by altering lignin composition. Bioresource Technology 102: 6479-6486.
  9. Fu C, Mielenz JR, Xiao X, Ge Y, Hamilton CY, Rodriguez M Jr, Chen F, Foston M, Ragauskas A, Bouton J, Dixon RA and Wang ZY. (2011). Genetic manipulation of lignin reduces recalcitrance and improves ethanol production from switchgrass. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108:3803-8.
  10. Zhou R, Jackson L, Shadle G, Nakashima J, Temple S, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2010). Distinct cinnamoyl CoA reductases involved in parallel routes to lignin in Medicago truncatula. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 107(41):17803-17808.
  11. Yang J, Chen F, Yu O and Beachy RN. (2010). Controlled silencing of 4-coumarate:CoA ligase alters lignocellulose composition without affecting stem growth. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 49:103-109.
  12. Wang H, Avci U, Nakashima J, Hahn MG, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2010). Mutation of WRKY transcription factors initiates pith secondary wall formation and increases stem biomass in dicotyledonous plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107:22338-43.
  13. Ziebell A, Gracom K, Katahira R, Chen F, Pu Y, Ragauskas A, Dixon RA and Davis M. (2010). Increase in 4-coumaryl alcohol units during lignification in alfalfa (Medicago sativa) alters the extractability and molecular weight of lignin. J Biol Chem. 285:38961-8.
  14. Zhao Q, Wang H, Yin Y, Xu Y, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2010). Syringyl lignin biosynthesis is directly regulated by a secondary cell wall master switch. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107:14496-501.
  15. Zhao Q, Gallego-Giraldo L, Wang H, Zeng Y, Ding SY, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2010). An NAC transcription factor orchestrates multiple features of cell wall development in Medicago truncatula. Plant J. 63:100-14.
  16. Zeng Y, Saar BG, Friedrich MG, Chen F, Liu Y, Dixon RA, Himmel ME, Xie XS and Ding S. (2010). Imaging Lignin-Downregulated Alfalfa Using Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering Microscopy Bioenerg. Res. 3:272-277.
  17. Shen H, Yin Y, Chen F, Xu Y and Dixon RA. (2010). A Bioinformatic Analysis of NAC Genes for Plant Cell Wall Development in Relation to Lignocellulosic Bioenergy Production. Bioenerg. Res. 2:217-232.
  18. Lei Z, Chen F, Watson BS, Nagaraj S, Elmer AM, Dixon RA and Sumner LW. (2010). Comparative proteomics of yeast-elicited Medicago truncatula cell suspensions reveal induction of isoflavonoid biosynthesis and cell wall modifications. Journal of Proteome Research 9:6220-31.
  19. Shen H, Fu C, Xiao X, Ray T, Tang Y, Wang Z and Chen F. (2009). Developmental Control of Lignification in Stems of Lowland Switchgrass Variety Alamo and the Effects on Saccharification Efficiency. Bioenerg. Res. 2:233-245.
  20. Pu Y, Chen F, Ziebell A, Davison BD and Ragauskas A. (2009). NMR Characterization of C3H and HCT Down-Regulated Alfalfa Lignin. BioEnergy Res. 2:198-208.
  21. Jackson LA, Shadle GL, Zhou R, Nakashima J, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2008). Improving saccharification efficiency of alfalfa stems through modification of the terminal stages of monolignol biosynthesis. Bioenerg. Res. 1:180-192.
  22. Nakashima J, Chen F, Jackson L, Shadle G and Dixon RA. (2008). Multi-site genetic modification of monolignol biosynthesis in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.): effects on lignin composition in specific cell types. New Phytologist 179:738-750.
  23. Xu P, Chen F, Mannas JP, Feldman T, Sumner LW and Roossinck MJ. (2008). Virus infection improves drought tolerance. New Phytologist 180:911-921.
  24. Marks MD, Betancur L, Gilding E, Chen F, Bauer S, Wenger JP, Dixon RA and Haigler CH. (2008). A new method for isolating large quantities of Arabidopsis trichomes for transcriptome, cell wall and other types of analyses. Plant J. 56:483-492.
  25. Chen F and Dixon RA. (2007). Lignin modification improves fermentable sugar yields for biofuel production. Nature Biotechnology 25:759-761.
  26. Shadle G, Chen F, Reddy MSS, Jackson L, Nakashima J and Dixon RA. (2007). Down-regulation of hydroxycinnamoyl CoA:Shikimate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase in transgenic alfalfa affects lignification, development and forage quality. Phytochemistry 68:1521-1529.
  27. Ralph J, Akiyama T, Kim H, Lu F, Schatz PF, Marita JM, Ralph SA, Reddy MSS, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2006). Effects of coumarate 3-hydroxylase down-regulation on lignin structure. J Biol Chem. 281:8843-53.
  28. Chen F, Reddy MSS, Jackson L, Shadle G and Dixon RA. (2005). Systematic down-regulation of lignin pathway enzymes reveals novel controls for the biosynthesis of G lignin and wall-bound ferulic acid in the forage legume alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Plant Journal 48:113-24.
  29. Reddy MSS*, Chen F*, Shadle G, Jackson L, Aljoe H and Dixon RA. (2005). (*first co-authors) Targeted down-regulation of cytochrome P450 enzymes demonstrates the lignin/forage digestibility relationship in alfalfa (Medicago sativa). PNAS 102:16573-8.
  30. Tsuji Y, Chen F, Yasuda S and Fukushima K. (2005). Unexpected behavior of coniferin in lignin biosynthesis of Ginkgo biloba L. Planta. 221:1432-2048.
  31. Chen F, Duran A, Blount JW, Sumner LW and Dixon RA. (2003). Profiling phenolic metabolites in transgenic alfalfa modified in lignin biosynthesis Phytochemistry 64:1013-21.
  32. Elmer A, Broeckling C, Chen F, Dixon RA, Donnelly B, Duran A, Huhman D, Lei Z, Watson BS and Sumner LW. (2004). Potential of Integrated Functional Genomics in Biosafety Assessment. Genomics and Biosafety of Plants, ed. Jan-Peter Nap, NATO Science Series, IOS Press; ISBN: 1 58603 432 4.
  33. Chen L, Auh C, Dowling P, Bell J, Chen F, Hopkins A, Dixon RA and Wang ZY. (2003). Improved forage digestibility of tall fescue (festuca arundinacea) by transgenic down regulation of cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase. Plant Biotechnology 1:437-449.
  34. Marita JM, Ralph JR, Hatfield RD, Guo D, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2003). Strucutral and compositional modifications in lignin of transgenic alfalfa down-regulated in caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase and caffeoyl CoA 3-O-methyltransferase. Phytochemistry 62:53-65.
  35. Shadle G, Wesley SV, Korth KL, Chen F, Lamb C and Dixon RA. (2002). Over-expression of L-phenylalanine ammonia-lyase enhances plant resistance to fungal and bacterial pathogens. Phytochemistry 64:153-61.
  36. Guo D, Chen F and Dixon RA. (2002). Monolignol biosynthesis in microsomal preparations from lignifying stem of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Phytochemistry 61:657-67.
  37. Chen L, Auh C, Chen F, Cheng X, Aljoe H, Dixon RA and Wang ZY. (2002). Lignin deposition and associated changes in anatomy enzyme activity, gene expression, and ruminal degradability in stems of tall fescue at different developmental stages. J. Agric. Food chemistry 50:5558-5565.
  38. Chen F, Parvathi K and Dixon RA. (2001). Syntheses of caffeyl aldehyde and 5-OH coniferyl aldehyde and the substrate preference of alfalfa COMT. Phytochemistry 58:1035-1042.
  39. Parvathi K*, Chen F*, Guo D, Blount JW and Dixon RA. (2001). (*first co-authors) Substrate preferences of lignin O-methyltransferase in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) suggest novel pathway to guaiacyl and syringyl units. Plant J. 25:193-202.
  40. Guo D, Chen F, Inoue K, Blount JW and Dixon RA. (2001). Down-regulation of caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase and caffeoyl CoA 3-O-methyltransferase in transgenic alfalfa (Medicago sative L.): Impacts on lignin structure and evidence for independent pathways for the biosynthesis of G and S lignin. Plant Cell 13:73-88.
  41. Guo D, Chen F, Wheeler J, Winder J, Selman S, Peterson M and Dixon RA. (2001). Improvement of in-rumen digestibility of alfalfa forage by genetic manipulation of lignin O-methyltransferases. Transgenic Research 10:457-464.
  42. Dixon RA, Chen F, Guo D and Parvathi K. (2001). The biosynthesis of monolignols: A "metabolic grid" or independent pathway to guaiacyl and syringyl units? Phytochemistry 57:1069-1084.
  43. Dixon RA, Chen F, He XZ, Noel JP and Zubieta C. (2001). Properties and metabolic engineering of phenylpropanoid pathway O-methyltrasferases in alfalfa. Recent Advance in Phytochemistry 35:131-151.
  44. Matsui N, Chen F, Yasuda S and Fukushima K. (2000). Conversion of guaiacyl to syringyl moieties on the cinnamyl alcohol pathway during the biosynthesis of lignin in angiosperms. Planta 210:831-835.
  45. Chen F, Seiichi S and Fukushima K. (1999). Evidence for a novel biosynthetic pathway that regulates the ratio of syringyl to guaiacyl residues in the differentiation xylem of Magnolia Kobus DC. Planta 207:597-603.
  46. Chen F, Yasuda S, and Fukushima K. (1999). Structural conversion of lignin subunit at the cinnamyl alcohol stage in Eucalyptus Camaldulensis. J. Wood Science 45:487-491.
  47. Chen F and Chen JX. (1996). Characterization of protolignin in eucalyptus CMP. J. Cellulose Science and Technology 4(2):56-62.
  48. Chen F and Chen JX. (1996). The pulping properties of eucalyptus grown in China. Guangdong Pulp and Paper 1996(3):89-94.
  49. Chen F and Chen JX. (1995). The pretreatment stage of eucalyptus CMP. Transaction of China Pulp and Paper 10(1): 8-12.
  50. Chen F and Chen JX. (1995). FTIR study of eucalyptus CMP. J. of South China University 23(10): 89-95.
  51. Chen F and Chen JX. (1994). FTIR study of lignin from eucalyptus. J Cellulose Science and Technology. 2(2): 14-20.
  52. Chen F, Huang WL, Wang LH, Yu JL and Chen JX. (1991). Study on the mechanisms and topochemistries of delignification during wheat straw Soda-AQ continuous pulping. Cellulose Chemistry and Technology 25: 383-390.

1. A novel lignin polymer for biofuel, carbon fiber, bioplastic and other chemicals, 2011, pending

DOE - Development of crucial tools for lignin research - John Ralph/Fang Chen 09/2011-09/2014, (co-PI), Develop a set of monoclonal antibodies to specific structures in lignins: for structural and localization studies; Develop a robust and flexible system for producing polymer-supported lignin monomers and oligolignols: for antibody screening, reactivity determination, elucidation of cross-coupling propensities, and beyond; Develop fluorescent-tagged monolignols: to aid in lignin localization studies and to help elucidate monolignol transport mechanisms.

DOE BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) - Lignin modification in switchgrass - award period: 10/2012-10/2017 (PI) Identify novel lignin pathway and genes that may prove effective for manipulation of lignocellulosic traits to facilitate biofuel and biobased chemical production in bioenergy crops.

USDA-DOE - Development of low-lignin switchgrass for improved ethanol production - award $670,166; period 11/05-11/08, (co-PI) - This project seeks to produce low-lignin switchgrass by transgenic down-regulation of the key lignin biosynthetic enzymes. It also seeks to reduce the cross-linking of polysaccharides with lignin in switchgrass through the down-regulation genes in order to modify ferulate and lignin biosynthesis. The transgenic materials that are developed will be tested for their conversion efficiency to ethanol in comparison to untransformed controls. Those transgenic lines identified as increasing the efficiency of ethanol production will then be incorporated into a grass breeding program for the development of elite switchgrass cultivars.

DOE-USDA - Systematic modification of monolignol pathway gene expression for improved lignocellulose utilization, Genetic dissection of the lignocellulosic pathway of grasses - award $775,000; period 09/06-09/09, (co-PI) - The objectives of this proposal are 1) to determine which features of the lignocellulosic material (lignin content, lignin composition or other factors) are most detrimental to the fermentation of biomass to ethanol and 2) to develop the crop plant alfalfa (Medicago sativa) as a model system for genomic studies on biomass utilization.

DOE BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) - Lignin modification in switchgrass - award period: 12/2007-12/2012 (PI) - Establish a genomic knowledge base for the biosynthetic, transporter and transcription factor genes involved in lignin formation (through tasks described elsewhere) and identify those genes that may prove effective for manipulation of lignocellulosic traits to facilitate ethanol production in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).

Oklahoma Bioenergy Center (OBC) - Increasing lignin content for production of biomass better suited to gasification- award $164,350; award period: 01/2008-12/2011 (PI) - The specific objectives of this project are to explore the effects of up-regulation of lignin biosynthesis on cell wall components, carbon flux into the lignin pathway and the potential impact on biomass quality and carbon sequestration.

Oklahoma Bioenergy Center (OBC) - Improving the performance of transgenic plants with improved efficiency for bioethanol processing - award $517,050; award period: 01/2008-12/2012 (co-PI) - The overall objectives of this work are to determine the exact molecular mechanisms that account for altered growth and morphology in transgenic model and dedicated bioenergy crops (alfalfa and switchgrass, representing a dicot and a monocot), in order to provide strategies for maximizing the usefulness of the clear improvements in processing ability observed with lignin down-regulation.