Dr. Jenny Xiang


Plant systematics and evolution of flowering plants

Research Interests

Our research spans a wide range of topics in plant systematics and evolution, involving undergraduate and graduate students as well as international collaborations. Our general research goal is to test systematic and evolutionary hypotheses in a phylogenetic context. We use DNA sequences to reconstruct the phylogeny of plants and use the phylogeny as a framework to understand pattern and rate of diversification, biogeographic history, and evolution of morphology, genes, and genomes.  We integrate phylogeny, development, and gene expression and functional analyses to understand the developmental genetics of inflorescence evolution in the dogwood family. We built a dogwood genetic transformation system for characterizing functions of genes regulating flowering and inflorescence development. Furthermore, we integrate populations genetics, phylogeography, and landscape ecology to understand how genetic variation responds to changes in landscape and environment in the state flower Cornus florida. Our focal plants for research have been the dogwoods and their close relatives (Cornales) as well as plants displaying a discontinuous distribution in eastern Asia and eastern North America.



The main course I teach is Plant Systematics (PB 403/503, 4 credits, lab and lectures), which was offered every fall before 2015 and now every spring from 2016 onward, for undergraduate and graduate level students. I also teach a study abroad course in the summer Study Abroad Program: Plant Resources, Ecology and Culture in China  (PB 495/595 – 501, 3 credits, S/U or graded; three weeks).

Other Teaching Efforts:

  • PB  493 (undergraduate research) Contact Dr. Chad Jordan for details.
  • Advising graduate students’ thesis research.

Selected Recent Publications

(click for detailed CV)

  • Kang, M, J Tao, J Wang, Q Qi, QY(J) Xiang, HW Huang. Accepted. Adaptive and non-adaptive genome size evolution in Karst endemic flora of China. New Phytologist.
  • Wall, WA, N Douglas, WA Hoffmann, TR Wentworth, JB Gray, QY(J) Xiang, BK Knaus and MG Hohmann. 2014. Evidence of population bottleneck in Astragalus michauxii (Fabaceae), a Fall-line Sandhills plant endemic to the southeastern United States. Conservation Genetics. 15:153–164. DOI 10.1007/s10592-013-0527-2.
  • Xiang, QY(J).   In: The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (ed. K.Kubitzki). Vol. X. Asteridea (vol. Ed. J. W. Kadereit). In press.
  • Xiang, QY(J). In: The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (ed. K.Kubitzki). Vol. X. Asteridea (vol. Ed. J. W. Kadereit). In press.
  • Call1, A, YX Sun1, DT Thomas3, P Pearman, R Trigiano, I Carbon, QY(J) Xiang*. In revision. Genetic structure and Pleistocene biogeography of Cornus florida L. (Cornaceae) – integrating phylogeography and ecological niche modeling. Journal of Systematics and Evolution. In revision.
  • Zhang*, J, RG Franks, X Liu*, M Kang, JEM Keebler, JE Schaff, HW Huang#, QY(J) Xiang#.2013. Comparative 454 transcriptome sequencing of  dogwood inflorescences – characterization and identification of candidate genes for evolutionary developmental biology and phylogenomic studies. PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082674.
  • Xiang, QY(J). 2013. Cornales (Dogwood). V2, a0024667.  In eLS 2013,  John Wiley & Sons Ltd: Chichester http://www.els.net/ [DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003729.pub2]
  • Liu, J, RG. Franks, CM Feng*, X Liu*, CX Fu, Q-Y(J) Xiang. 2013. Characterization of the sequence and expression pattern of LFY homologs from dogwoods species (Cornus L.) with divergent inflorescence architectures. Annals of Botany. Annals of Botany doi: 10.1093/aob/mct202.
  • Zhao, YP*, WW Ma, QY Dai, ZC Qi, P Li. KM Cameron, J Lee, QY(J) Xiang#, CX Fu#.  2013. Comparative phylogeography of the Smilax hispida group (Smilacaceae) in eastern Asia and North America – implications in allopatric speciation, causes of diversity disparity, and origins of temperate elements in Mexico. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 68: 300–311.
  • Guo*, YL, A Pais*, AS. Weakley, QY (J) Xiang.  2013. Molecular Phylogenetic analysis suggests paraphyly and early diversification of Philadelphus (Hydrangeaceae) in western North America: New insights into affinity withCarpenteria. Journla of Systematics and Evolution. 51 (5): 545–563. doi: 10.1111/jse.12041.
  • Harris*, AJ, J Wen, and QY(J) Xiang. 2013. Inferring the biogeographic origins of inter-continental disjunct endemics using a Bayes-DIVA Approach. Journal of Systematics and Evolution.  51: 117–133 (2013). Cover page.
  • Liu*, X, CM Feng*, R Franks, R Qu, DY Xie, and QY(J)  Xiang. 2013. Plant regeneration and genetic transformation of C. canadensis: a non-model plant appropriate for investigation of flower development inCornus (Cornaceae). Plant Cell Report.  32: 77-87. Oneline first: 2012, DOI 10.1007/s00299-012-1341-x.
  • Feng*, CM, X Liu*, Y Yu*, WH Zhang*, DY Xie, RG Franks, and QY(J) Xiang.  2012. Evolution of bract development and B-class MADS box gene expression in petaloid bracts of Cornus s. l. (Cornaceae). New Phytologist. 196: 631-643. Online first: DOI:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04255.x. Cover page.
  • Liu*, J, ZC Qi*, YP Zhao*, CX Fu and Q-Y(J) Xiang. 2012. Chloroplast DNA phylogenomics of Monocots – Insights into the placement of Liliales and influences of gene partitions.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 64: 545-562.
  • Feng*, CM, QY(J) Xiang#, RG Franks#. 2011. Phylogeny-based developmental analyses illuminate evolution of inflorescence architectures in dogwoods (Cornus s. l., Cornaceae) New Phytologist. 191:850-869. Cover page.
  • Xiang, QY(J), DT Thomas*, and QP Xiang*. 2011. Resolving and dating the phylogeny of Cornales- effects of taxon sampling, data partitions, and fossil calibrations.Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 59: 123-138.
  • Douglas*, NA., AW Wall*, QY(J) Xiang, TR Wentworth, WA Hoffmann, MG Hohmann. 2011. Recent vicariance and the origin of the rare, edaphically specialized Sandhills Lily, Lilium pyrophilum (Liliaceae): evidence from phylogenetic and coalescent analyses. Molecular Ecology. 20:2901-2915. Cover page.
  • Wall*, AW, NA Douglas*, QY(J) Xiang, WA Hoffmann, TR Wentworth, and MG Hohmann. 2010. Evidence for range stasis during the latter Pleistocene for the Atlantic Coastal Plain endemic genus, Pysidanthera Michaux. Molecular Ecology 19: 4302-4314.
  • Manchester, SR, QY (J) Xiang, and QP Xiang*. 2010. Fruits of Cornelian cherries (Cornaceae: Cornus Subg. Cornus) in the Paleocene and Eocene of the Northern Hemisphere. International Journal of Plant Sciences.171:882–891.

(Asterisks * indicate students, postdocs, visiting scholars, or technicians mentored or hosted.)