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Department of Plant Pathology

Dr. Liangliang Gao

Dr. Liangliang Gao

Fellow (Post-Doc)

Email Dr. Gao

Kansas State University
4706 Throckmorton PSC
1712 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66506

Ph: +1-785-532-6176
Fx: +1-785-532-5692

Awards & Honors

  • John Dueck Fellowship, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota (2012, first recipient of this award).
  • H. David Thurston Student Travel Award, American Phytopathological Society Foundation (2011)
  • Thesis Research Grant, The Graduate School, University of Minnesota (2010-2011)
  • EPA: 6th Annual P3 Awards, A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009-2010)

Biography & Education


Liangliang Gao is a Fellow (Post-Doc) in bioinformatics working under Dr. Jesse Poland’s supervision at Kansas State University. View our work at Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement). Dr. Gao joined the Poland Lab in Aug 2016 and his main research goal is to lead computational approaches to utilize next generation sequencing data for genomics-assisted breeding in wheat. Dr. Gao is developing improved approaches for analysis of genotyping by sequencing (GBS) data and whole genome sequence data for genome anchoring and translate genomic information to prediction models for genomic selection.

As of December 2017, Dr. Gao mainly worked on three projects at the Poland lab:

  • Validating the Chinese Spring wheat reference genome assembly using de novo GBS maps and physical BAC sequences of wheat chromosomes 1D, 4D, 6D and 3A
  • Generating a draft and ordered genome sequence for winter wheat cultivar Jagger using chromosome conformation capture and massively parallel sequencing (Hi-C). Jagger wheat is a landmark high-yielding and fast-establishment variety of the US wheat crop, and was commercially grown in more than 12 nations. Jagger wheat was planted in >10 million acres in the US central plains alone for about 9 consecutive years. More importantly, Jagger wheat lives in the pedigree of many of the current US wheat cultivars. The finish of a fully anchored and annotated reference genome for Jagger wheat will become tremendously important genomic resources for wheat researchers within the United States and around the globe.
  • Identification of an alien wheat fragment (Aegilops ventricosa 2NS) in Kansas and US wheat breeding lines and preliminary 2NS-yield relationships analysis. The 2NS alien segment present in Jagger is probably by far the only known source of resistance against the emerging and devastating wheat blast fungus among other important wheat pathogens. The characterization of this alien DNA segment and its gene contents, expression patterns are fundamental not only in advancing our understanding of Science, but also in how practically, we could assemble tools and resources to combat wheat pathogens and ensure the sustainable production of food for potentially billions of people on the planet.
Previous Positions
  • Research Associate in Wheat Genetics, Genomics & Breeding, University of Minnesota (Feb, 2013 – Aug, 2016)
  • Research Fellow in Potato Pathology and Genomics, University of Minnesota (Jan, 2013)
  • Research Assistant in Potato Pathology and Genomics, University of Minnesota (Aug, 2007 – Dec, 2012)
  • Teaching Assistant, Introductory Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota (Spring, 2009)
  • Ph.D. Plant Pathology (Potato Pathology & Genomics), University of Minnesota 2013
  • M.S. Crop Genetics and Breeding, China Agricultural University, Bejing, China 2007
  • B.S. Biological Science, Hebei University, Baoding, China 2004

Familiar with Unix/Linux environments, proficient with scripting or programming languages including Perl, Python, R etc.; Chromosome conformation capture coupled with high throughput DNA sequencing (Hi-C) for genome anchoring; RNA-seq and Microarray data analysis (R_Bioconductor, The Tuxedo Suites); Applied Experimental Design Skills; Applied Regression Analysis; Generalized Linear Models; QTL mapping; Association Mapping (AM/GWAS); Genomic Selection (GS/GWS);

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Member, American Phytopathological Society (APS)
  • Member, Crop Science Society of America (CSSA)


  • Gao, L., Dorn, K., Rife, T. W., Wang, X., Lemes, C., Clinesmith, M., Silva, P., Fritz, A., Stein, N., Mascher, M. and Poland, J. (2018). Completion of the ‘Jagger’ Wheat Genome Leads to Identification of Aegilops ventricosa 2NS Translocation and Its Impact in Wheat Breeding. (https://pag.confex.com/pag/xxvi/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/30261)
  • Curland, R. D., Gao, L., Bull, C. T., Vinatzer, B., Dill-Macky, R., Von Eck, L., & Ishimaru, C. 2017. Genetic diversity and virulence of wheat and barley strains of Xanthomonas translucens from the Upper Midwestern United States. Phytopathology. doi:10.1094/PHYTO-08-17-0271-R (https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/abs/10.1094/PHYTO-08-17-0271-R)
  • Gao, L., Rouse, M. N., Mihalyov, P. D., Bulli, P., Pumphrey, M. O. and Anderson, J. A. 2017 Genetic Characterization of Stem Rust Resistance in a Global Spring Wheat Germplasm Collection. Crop Science doi:10.2135/cropsci2017.03.0159 (https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/cs/abstracts/57/5/2575)
  • Zhang, X., Larson S. R., Gao, L., The, S. L., Dehaan, L. R., Fraser, M., Sallam, A., Kantarski T., Frels, K., Poland, J., Wyse, D. and Anderson, A. A. 2017 Uncovering the Genetic Architecture of Seed Weight and Size in Intermediate Wheatgrass through Linkage and Association Mapping. The Plant Genome DOI: 10.3835/plantgenome2017.03.0022 (https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/tpg/abstracts/10/3/plantgenome2017.03.0022)
  • Gao, L., and Bradeen, J. M. 2016. Contrasting Potato Foliage and Tuber Defense Mechanisms against the Late Blight Pathogen Phytophthora infestans. PLoS One 11:e0159969. (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0159969)
  • Gao, L., Turner, M. K., Chao, X. M., Kolmer J., Anderson J. A. (2016) Genome wide association study (GWAS) of seedling and adult plant leaf rust resistance in elite wheat breeding lines PLoS One DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0148671(http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148671)
  • Zhang, X., Sallam, A., Gao, L., Kantarski, T., Poland, J., DeHaan, L. R., Wyse, D. and Anderson, J. A. (2016) Establishment and optimization of genomic selection to accelerate the domestication and improvement of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) using recurrent selection. The Plant Genome DOI: 10.3835/plantgenome2015.07.0059 (https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/tpg/abstracts/0/0/plantgenome2015.07.0059)
  • Gao, L., Kielsmeier-Cook, J., Bajgain, P., Zhang, X., Chao, S., Rouse, M. N. and Anderson, J. A. (2015) Development of genotyping by sequencing (GBS)- and array-derived SNP markers for stem rust resistance gene Sr42. Molecular Breeding 35:207 (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11032-015-0404-4)
  • Millett, B., Gao. L. (co-first author), Iorizzo1 M., Carputo D., Bradeen J.M.(2015) Potato tuber blight resistance phenotypes correlate with RB transgene transcript levels in an age-dependent manner. Phytopathology 105:1131-1136 (http://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/10.1094/PHYTO-10-14-0291-R)
  • Iorizzo, M., Gao, L. (co-first author), Mann, H., Chiusano, M.L., Carputo, D., Kilian A., Bradeen, J.M. (2014) A DArT marker-based linkage map for wild potato Solanum bulbocastanum facilitates structural comparisons between Solanum A and B genomes. BMC genetics 15:123 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/15/123)
  • Zhou, P., Silverstein K.A.T., Gao, L., Nallu, S., Guhlin J. and Young, N.D. (2013) Detecting Small Plant Peptides in Plants using SPADA (Small Peptide Alignment Discovery Application). BMC Bioinformatics 14:335 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/14/335)
  • Gao, L., Tu, Z.J., Millett B., Bradeen, J.M. (2013) Insights into organ-specific pathogen defense responses in plants: RNA-seq analysis of potato tuber-Phytophthora infestans interactions. BMC Genomics 14:340 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/14/340)
  • Mann, H., Iorizzo, M., Gao, L., D'Agostino, N., Carputo, D., Chiusano, M.L., Bradeen, J.M. (2011) Molecular linkage maps: strategies, resources and achievements, in Genetics, Genomics and Breeding of Potato, J.M.Bradeen and C. Kole, Editors. CRC Press: Enfield, NH, pages 68-89. (https://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781578087150)
  • Li, G., Fang, T., Zhu, J., Gao, L., Li, S., Xie, C., Yang, Z., Sun, Q., Liu, Z. (2009) Molecular Identification of a Powdery Mildew Resistance Gene from Common Wheat Cultivar Brock. Acta Agronomica Sinica 2009 35:1613-1619. (http://pub.chinasciencejournal.com/ActaAgronomicaSinica/6946.jhtml)

Service & Leadership

  • Chair, Plant Pathology Graduate Student Symposium Organizing Committee (2011).
  • Volunteer Coordinator, Borlaug Global Rust Initiative Technical Workshop, for field day and workshops (2011)
  • Council of Graduate Students (COGS) representative, Plant Pathology Graduate Student Group, University of Minnesota (2010-2011)
  • Vice President, Graduate Student Organization, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota (2010-2011)
  • Student Member, Awards and Honors Committee, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota. (2008-2010)