Songwen Zhang

Songwen Zhang
Telephone: (517) 940-1466

Department of Horticulture

PhD Candidate

1066 Bogue St, Room 326
East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Major Advisor

Dr. Steve van Nocker

Dissertation Title

Understanding the Role of Gibberellin in the Repression of Flowering in Apple

Area of Expertise

Gibberellin signaling, apple flowering, regulation of GA2ox gene


  • Ph.D. in Horticulture, Michigan State University, USA                                    May 2020 (expected)
  • M.S. in Horticulture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China                   Jun. 2016
  • B.S. in Agriculture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China                     Jun. 2013

Research Interests

Songwen is currently looking at the role of phytohormone gibberellins (GAs) in apple flowering under the supervision of Dr. Steve van Nocker. In contrast to its promotive role in floral induction in Arabidopsis, exogenous GA application during the summer period of floral induction can reduce bloom density and crop load in the subsequent year in apple and many other fruit trees. However, the mechanism of GA-mediated flowering repression in apple and other plants remains unknown. She is addressing this deficiency of knowledge by documenting the transcriptional response of apple trees to exogenous GA application, and by identifying specific components in the mechanism linking GA perception with gene response, using the positive regulation of the GA2ox gene family by GA in model plant Arabidopsis. She hopes to exploit the findings from these studies to design more efficient, GA-based methods to control flowering, while also identifying genetic loci that may be important for the development of new cultivars with desirable flowering traits.

Honors and Awards

  • Mericle Memorial Scholarship                                 Aug. 2016
  • Dr. Ruth M. Allen Award                                         Mar. 2018
  • The Jason and Dana Lilly Award                            Apr. 2018 


  1. Zhang, S., Gottschalk, C., Van Nocker, S., 2018, Genetic mechanisms in the repression of flowering by gibberellins in apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.). (in preparation)
  2. Zhang, S., Zhang, D., Fan, S., Du, L., Shen, Y., Xing, L., Li, Y., Ma, J. and Han, M., 2016. Effect of exogenous GA3 and its inhibitor paclobutrazol on floral formation, endogenous hormones, and flowering-associated genes in ‘Fuji’ apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.). Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 107, pp.178-186.
  3. Xing, L., Zhang, D., Li, Y., Zhao, C., Zhang, S., Shen, Y., ... & Han, M. 2014. Genome-wide identification of vegetative phase transition-associated microRNAs and target predictions using degradome sequencing in Malus hupehensis. BMC genomics, 15(1), 1125.
  4. Li, Y., Zhang, D., Xing, L., Zhang, S., Zhao, C., & Han, M. 2016. Effect of exogenous 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA) on branch type, floral induction and initiation, and related gene expression in ‘Fuji’apple (Malus x domestica Borkh). Plant growth regulation, 79(1), 65-70.
  5. Du, L., Qi, S., Ma, J., Xing, L., Fan, S., Zhang, S., Li, Y., Shen, Y., Zhang, D. and Han, M., 2017. Identification of TPS family members in apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) and the effect of sucrose sprays on TPS expression and floral induction. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.

Up-to-date Publication Lists

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