Kyaw (Joe) Aung

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kyaw (Joe) Aung received his BS and MS in Horticulture from National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan. He completed his PhD from Michigan State University (MSU) under the guidance of Dr. Jianping Hu. Prior his research journey at MSU, he was a Research Assistant in the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center at Academia Sinica, Taiwan, with Dr. Tzyy-Jen Chiou. Dr. Aung later conducted his postdoctoral research at MSU with Dr. Sheng Yang He, where he examined plant-microbe interactions. In 2018, Dr. Aung joined the faculty of the Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology Department as an Assistant Professor. 

Research Description

Cell-to-cell communication is crucial for developmental regulation and stress adaptation in all organisms. To ensure prompt cellular responses to internal and external stimuli, intercellular communications ensure efficient and effective interactions between neighboring cells. The Aung lab is broadly interested in understanding how plants harness intercellular communication to maintain homeostasis in the regulation of growth and defense. In plants, symplastic transport of signaling molecules between cells is mediated by membrane-lined channels termed plasmodesmata (PD), analogous to gap junctions in mammals. PD-dependent intercellular communication is essential for diverse stress adaptation; however, molecular mechanisms underlying the PD-mediated cell-to-cell communication are largely unknown. We are utilizing cellular, molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches to uncover how pathogenic microbes manipulate plant PD to promote disease. We will initially explore Arabidopsis-Pseudomonas syringae and Rice-Magnaporthe oryzae pathosystems. Using pathogenic microbes as probes, we aim to reveal the fundamental regulation of cell-to-cell communication network in plants. In addition, the research will further our knowledge of plant cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous responses in the plant-microbe interface. 


Aung K*, Jiang Y, and He S* (2018) The role of water homeostasis in plant-microbe interactions. Plant J 93: 771-780. *: co-corresponding author.

Aung K, Xin X, Mecey C, and He S (2017) Subcellular localization of Type III secretion proteins in plants. Methods Mol Biol.1531: 141-153. 

Xin X, Nomura K, Aung K, Velásquez A, Yao J, Boutrot F, Chang J, Zipfel C, and He S (2016) Bacteria establish an aqueous living space as a crucial virulence mechanism. Nature 539: 524-529. 

Xin X, Nomura K, Ding X, Chen X, Wang K, Aung K, Uribe F, Rosa B, Yao J, Chen J, and He S (2015) Pseudomonas syringaeeffector avirulence protein localizes to the host plasma membrane and down-regulates the expression of the NONRACE-SPECIFIC DISEASE RESISTANCE1/HARPIN-INDUCED1-LIKE13 gene required for antibacterial immunity in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 169: 793-802.

Aung K, Kaur N, and Hu J (2014) Dynamin-related proteins in peroxisome division. In: Molecular machines involved in peroxisome biogenesis and maintenance, Editors: Brocard C and Hartig A. Springer 439-460.  

Chen Y, Aung K, Rolčík J, Walicki K, Friml J, and Brandizzi F (2014) Inter-regulation of the unfolded protein response and auxin signaling. Plant J 77: 97-107. 

Quan S, Yang P, Cassin-Ross G, Kaur N, Switzenberg R, Aung K, Li J, and Hu J (2013) Proteome analysis of peroxisomes from etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings identifies a peroxisomal protease involved in beta-oxidation and development. Plant Physiol 163: 1518-1538. 

Aung K and Hu J (2012) Differential roles of Arabidopsis dynamin-related proteins DRP3A, DRP3B, and DRP5B in organelle division. J Integr Plant Biol 54 (11): 921-931.

Aung K and Hu J (2011) The Arabidopsistail-anchored coiled-coil protein PEROXISOMAL AND MITOCHONDRIAL DIVISION FACTOR1 is involved in the morphogenesis and proliferation of peroxisomes and mitochondria. Plant Cell 23: 4446-4461.

Liu T, Aung K, Tseng C, Chang T, Chen Y, and Chiou T (2011) Vacuolar Ca2+/H+transport activity is required for systemic phosphate homeostasis involving shoot-to-root signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 156: 1176-1189.

Aung K, Zhang X, and Hu J (2010) Peroxisome division and proliferation in plants. Biochem Soc Trans 38: 817-822. 

Aung K and Hu J (2009) The Arabidopsis peroxisome division mutant pdd2is defective in the DYNAMIN-RELATED PROTEIN3A (DRP3A) gene. Plant Signal Behav 4(6): 542-544.

Reumann S, Quan S, Aung K, Yang P, Manandhar-Shrestha K, Holbrook D, Linka N, Switzenberg R, Wilkerson CG, Weber APM Olsen LJ, and Hu J (2009) In-depth proteome analysis of Arabidopsis leaf peroxisomes combined with in vivo subcellular targeting verification indicates novel metabolic and regulatory functions of peroxisomes. Plant Physiol 150: 125-143.

Aung K*, Lin S*, Wu C, Huang Y, Chiang S, and Chiou T (2006) pho2, a phosphate over-accumulator, is caused by a nonsense mutation in the miR399 target gene. Plant Physiol 141(3): 1000-1011. *: equally contributed.

Chiou T, Aung K*, Lin S*, Wu C*, Chiang S, and Su C (2006) Regulation of phosphate homeostasis by microRNA in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 18(2): 412-421. *: equally contributed.

Fujii H, Chiou T, Lin S, Aung K, and Zhu J (2005) A miRNA involved in phosphate-starvation response in Arabidopsis. Current Biology 15: 2038-2043. 

Area of Expertise: 
Cell Biology at the Plant-Microbe Interface
Ph.D. in Plant Biology, Michigan State University, 2011
M.S. in Horticulture, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, 2002
B.S. in Horticulture, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, 2000
3207 Advanced Teaching and Research Building, 2213 Pammel Drive