Jing-Ke Weng

Jing-Ke Weng

Associate Professor of Biology; Member, Whitehead Institute

Jing-Ke Weng studies metabolic evolution in plants and explores the remarkable plant chemodiversity for new commodity chemicals and medicines.





Heather Ferguson



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 2009, Purdue University
  • BS, 2003, Biotechnology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Research Summary

We probe the origin and evolution of plant metabolism, as well as how plants exploit discrete small molecules to interact with their surrounding environments. We also use plant natural products with specific medicinal properties as chemical probes to query human disorders like metabolic syndromes and protein-misfolding diseases. Ultimately, we hope to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the "matrix effect" evident in many traditional herbal remedies.


  • Beckman Young Investigator Award, 2016
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2016
  • Searle Scholar, 2015
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, 2014
  • American Society of Plant Biologists Early Career Award, 2014
  • Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science, 2013

Recent Publications

  1. Imine chemistry in plant metabolism. Torrens-Spence, MP, Glinkerman, CM, Günther, J, Weng, JK. 2021. Curr Opin Plant Biol 60, 101999.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2020.101999PMID:33450608
  2. Evidence for de novo Biosynthesis of the Luminous Substrate Coelenterazine in Ctenophores. Bessho-Uehara, M, Huang, W, Patry, WL, Browne, WE, Weng, JK, Haddock, SHD. 2020. iScience 23, 101859.
    doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101859PMID:33376974
  3. Precision Delivery of Multiscale Payloads to Tissue-Specific Targets in Plants. Cao, Y, Lim, E, Xu, M, Weng, JK, Marelli, B. 2020. Adv Sci (Weinh) 7, 1903551.
    doi: 10.1002/advs.201903551PMID:32670750
  4. Laboratory culture of the California Sea Firefly Vargula tsujii (Ostracoda: Cypridinidae): Developing a model system for the evolution of marine bioluminescence. Goodheart, JA, Minsky, G, Brynjegard-Bialik, MN, Drummond, MS, Munoz, JD, Fallon, TR, Schultz, DT, Weng, JK, Torres, E, Oakley, TH et al.. 2020. Sci Rep 10, 10443.
    doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67209-wPMID:32591605
  5. Partitioning of cancer therapeutics in nuclear condensates. Klein, IA, Boija, A, Afeyan, LK, Hawken, SW, Fan, M, Dall'Agnese, A, Oksuz, O, Henninger, JE, Shrinivas, K, Sabari, BR et al.. 2020. Science 368, 1386-1392.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aaz4427PMID:32554597
  6. Plant Solutions for the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: Historical Reflections and Future Perspectives. Weng, JK. 2020. Mol Plant 13, 803-807.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2020.05.014PMID:32442649
  7. Structural basis for divergent and convergent evolution of catalytic machineries in plant aromatic amino acid decarboxylase proteins. Torrens-Spence, MP, Chiang, YC, Smith, T, Vicent, MA, Wang, Y, Weng, JK. 2020. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 117, 10806-10817.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1920097117PMID:32371491
  8. The chloroalkaloid (-)-acutumine is biosynthesized via a Fe(II)- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent halogenase in Menispermaceae plants. Kim, CY, Mitchell, AJ, Glinkerman, CM, Li, FS, Pluskal, T, Weng, JK. 2020. Nat Commun 11, 1867.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15777-wPMID:32313070
  9. Exploring Uncharted Territories of Plant Specialized Metabolism in the Postgenomic Era. Jacobowitz, JR, Weng, JK. 2020. Annu Rev Plant Biol 71, 631-658.
    doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-081519-035634PMID:32176525
  10. PBS3 and EPS1 Complete Salicylic Acid Biosynthesis from Isochorismate in Arabidopsis. Torrens-Spence, MP, Bobokalonova, A, Carballo, V, Glinkerman, CM, Pluskal, T, Shen, A, Weng, JK. 2019. Mol Plant 12, 1577-1586.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.11.005PMID:31760159
More Publications






Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute