The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dong Wang

Assistant Professor

The research goal in the Wang Lab is to understand the interaction between eukaryotic hosts and their microbial partners, using the highly evolved symbiotic association between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia as a model. These two species undergo a complex series of interactions, resulting in the transformation of free-living bacteria into intracellular organelles – the symbiosomes – dedicated to converting (fixing) atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia for the host. The lab is particularly interested in how the host maintains and controls a large population of intracellular rhizobia: rhizobia are closely related to a number of bacterial pathogens of animals and plants, and use similar strategies to associate with their eukaryotic host. However, their survival and proliferation inside the host cytoplasm is tightly controlled by the host. Understanding how the legume hosts neutralize the potential threat posed by this intracellular bacteria may lead to new strategies to combat infectious diseases. The symbiosomes are compartments that enclose the bacteria with a host-derived membrane. The group is elucidating the nature of the molecular dialog between the host and the microbe across this biological interface.

Current Research
Recent discoveries revealed that the symbiosome is a target of host protein secretion, with numerous host proteins delivered to the bacterial compartment. Current research is focused on two aspects of this specialize protein secretory pathway:

  1. mechanisms that ensures the faithful delivery of host proteins to the bacterial compartment, and
  2. the functions of secreted host proteins interacting – directly or indirectly – with the bacteria.

Learn more at

Academic Background

  • PhD Duke University, 2006
  • Postdoctoral Training: Stanford University
Wang D, Yang S, Tang F, and Zhu H (2012) Symbiosis specificity in the legume-rhizobial mutualism. Cellular Microbiology, 14(3):334-42
Wang D and Dong X (2011) A highway for war and peace: the secretory pathway in plant-microbe interactions. Molecular Plant, 4(4):581-7
Wang D, Griffitts J, Starker C, Fedorova E, Limpens E, Ivanov S, Bisseling T, and Long SR (2010) A nodule specific protein secretory pathway required for nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. Science, 327(5969):1126-9
Wang D*, Pajerowska-Mukhtar K*, Culler AH, and Dong X (2007) Salicylic acid inhibits pathogen growth in plants through repression of the auxin signaling pathway. Current Biology, 17(20):1784-90 *: equal contribution
Wang D, Amornsiripanitch N, and Dong X (2006) A genomic approach to identify regulatory nodes in the transcriptional network of systemic acquired resistance in plants. PLoS Pathogens 2(11):e123
Wang D, Weaver ND, Kesarwani M, and Dong X (2005) Induction of protein secretory pathway is required for systemic acquired resistance. Science 308(5724):1036-40
Contact Info

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
N429 Life Sciences Laboratories
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-4806