Qifa Zhang is a Professor in the College of Life Science and Technology at Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China. Dr. Zhang is a plant geneticist recognized for his work on rice functional genomics, the biological basis for the utilization of heterosis in rice including the genes and regulation of photoperiod sensitive male sterility and intersubspecific hybrid sterility, and the genetic basis of heterosis of hybrid rice. He also proposed the notion of Green Super Rice and led the team in developing rice varieties requiring less fertilizers, pesticides and water with high yield and quality by using genomic technologies. Dr. Zhang was born in Gongan County, Hubei Province. He graduated from Huazhong Agricultural College in agronomy and from University of California Davis in 1985 with a PhD in genetics, where he also worked as a postdoctoral fellow. He joined the faculty in Huazhong Agricultural University in 1986. He served as the Dean of the College of Life Science and Technology and the Director of the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement. He has been the Director of Hubei Hongshan Laboratory. He is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Research Interests

As a plant geneticist, my research interests have been in genetics and biotechnology of rice. My group has characterized the genetic components controlling heterosis in an elite rice hybrid. Using an "immortalized F2 population" that I designed, we identified heterotic QTL and found coexistence of dominance, overdominance and prevalent epistasis in the system, and demonstrated that heterotic effects at the single-locus level in combination with the advantageous effects of double heterozygotes could explain the genetic basis of heterosis in this hybrid. My group has also systematically conducted functional characterization of the rice genome, and identified over 100 rice genes (QTLs) by molecular mapping and T-DNA insertion mutant library screening. More than 10 agronomically important genes have been molecularly cloned and characterized, including GS3 the first gene identified for grain size (a trait for both grain yield and quality), and xa13 a recessively inherited disease resistant gene. My group has also made large efforts in rice genetic improvement by integrating germplasms, molecular marker assisted selection and transgenics in rice breeding, and developed lines with improved disease resistance, insect resistance and grain quality, some of which have been used in rice production in China.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics