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Lailiang Cheng

Lailiang Cheng


120 Plant Science
(607) 255-1779

I have an appointment of research and extension in nutrition and stress physiology of deciduous fruit crops with emphasis on apple. The goal of my research program is to better understand the physiological processes underlying carbon/mineral nutrition and environmental stresses on tree growth and fruiting, and develop management practices for improving orchard productivity and fruit quality. I am also involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Research Focus

All pome and stone fruits of the Rosaceae family, such as apple, pear, peach and cherry, synthesize, transport, and utilize both sorbitol and sucrose, with sorbitol being predominant. This contrasts with most other plants where sucrose is the only sugar translocated from source leaves to sink organs. The presence of sorbitol in these tree fruits raises an interesting question as to its role in carbohydrate metabolism, tree growth and development, and stress tolerance. We are taking physiological, biochemical and molecular approaches to understand the function of sorbitol as both a carbon substrate and a signaling molecule in apple. We are also very interested in malate metabolism and accumulation in addition to carbohydrates during apple fruit growth and development as well as their responses to nutrient stress and other environmental stresses in the context of fruit quality improvement. On the more applied side, our research addresses uptake, translocation, and utilization, and demand-supply relationship of nitrogen, calcium, and potassium in apple trees to provide basis for optimizing nutrient inputs into yield- and labor-efficient high density apple orchards.

Outreach and Extension Focus

The goal of my extension program is to effectively deliver research-based, up to date information and provide expertise concerning nutrient management to the apple industry in New York and beyond through collaborations with faculty, extension educators, and growers. My extension activities are closely tied with my applied research. The current focus is management of nitrogen, potassium, calcium and other essential nutrients to improve yield and quality of high density apple orchards.

Teaching Focus

My goal in teaching and advising is to train students so that they develop to realize their academic potential, resulting in not only getting a degree from Cornell, but more importantly becoming a “thinker” and a “doer” in the field of horticultural sciences.

My teaching has been largely in mineral nutrition of fruit crops and advanced analytical techniques in plant science.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications