So-Yon Park

Senior Research Associate

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is the most frequently employed plant genetic engineering method. Because Agrobacterium is considered a disease-causing pathogen to host plants after inoculation, research in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is focused on transformation mechanism, plant pathogenesis and innate immunity of plant. Low transformation efficiency has been a main obstacle for studying legume plants. One of the suggested reasons of this recalcitrance is that the legume plants are resistant to Agrobacterium. Achieving increased efficiency will require an understand the mechanism of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation in legume plant, which remains unclear after over 30 years of utilizing this technology.

Future research
Peanut is an important legume and money maker in Virginia. To increase efficiency of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation in peanut, it is necessary to test various Agrobacterium strains that have not been studied previously. To optimize the technology, transient GUS expression assay will be tested by the Agrobacterium strains, including modified effector proteins, with various peanut lines. I have previously identified Arabidopsis mutants that showed over 10 fold increase in the T-DNA integration efficiency. Based on published work, it appears that these genes and mutants might be involved in transgene methylation and T-DNA integration after transfer into plant cells. Transcription of methylated transgenes negatively affects the number of transgenic plants recovered in transformation. After functional analysis, I am particularly eager to investigate these genes in legume transformation to increase efficiency. Also, this research can contribute to the understanding of plant pathogenesis and innate immunity.  Improved transformation technology will facilitate the use of various transgenics (overexpression, knock-out, or knock-down plants) for functional analysis of a gene of interest. One area of interest in Virginia agriculture is the impact of abiotic stress on crop production. In peanuts, drought stress in particular seriously affects peanut yields. One aspect of abiotic stress that has not been studied in peanut is the potential identification of small RNAs affecting plant responses to drought. I will identify peanut drought-associated small RNAs which play regulatory roles in drought stress. The study of small RNAs and the corresponding target genes will provide future potential for achieving drought tolerant lines.


Ph. D., Crop Molecular Genetics, Seoul National Unversity, 2009

B.S., Crop Science, Dankook University, 2003


  • 2014 - Present : Senior Research Associate

  •  June, 2011- December, 2013 : Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Zhang, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
  • January, 2010 - May, 2011 : Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Gelvin, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
So-Yon Park
  • (540) 231-7132
  • 410 Price Hall
    Mail code: 0331
    170 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24061