Jing-Ke Weng

Jing-Ke Weng

Associate Professor; 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. The biosynthetic origin of psychoactive kavalactones in kava. Pluskal, T, Torrens-Spence, MP, Fallon, TR, De Abreu, A, Shi, CH, Weng, JK. 2019. Nat Plants 5, 867-878.
    doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0474-0PMID:31332312
  2. Repeated evolution of cytochrome P450-mediated spiroketal steroid biosynthesis in plants. Christ, B, Xu, C, Xu, M, Li, FS, Wada, N, Mitchell, AJ, Han, XL, Wen, ML, Fujita, M, Weng, JK et al.. 2019. Nat Commun 10, 3206.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11286-7PMID:31324795
  3. Production of nonnatural straight-chain amino acid 6-aminocaproate via an artificial iterative carbon-chain-extension cycle. Cheng, J, Hu, G, Xu, Y, Torrens-Spence, MP, Zhou, X, Wang, D, Weng, JK, Wang, Q. 2019. Metab. Eng. 55, 23-32.
    doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2019.06.009PMID:31220662
  4. The Reference Genome Sequence of Scutellaria baicalensis Provides Insights into the Evolution of Wogonin Biosynthesis. Zhao, Q, Yang, J, Cui, MY, Liu, J, Fang, Y, Yan, M, Qiu, W, Shang, H, Xu, Z, Yidiresi, R et al.. 2019. Mol Plant 12, 935-950.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.04.002PMID:30999079
  5. PRX9 and PRX40 Are Extensin Peroxidases Essential for Maintaining Tapetum and Microspore Cell Wall Integrity during Arabidopsis Anther Development. Jacobowitz, JR, Doyle, WC, Weng, JK. 2019. Plant Cell 31, 848-861.
    doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00907PMID:30886127
  6. Unleashing the Synthetic Power of Plant Oxygenases: From Mechanism to Application. Mitchell, AJ, Weng, JK. 2019. Plant Physiol. 179, 813-829.
    doi: 10.1104/pp.18.01223PMID:30670605
  7. The molecular structure of plant sporopollenin. Li, FS, Phyo, P, Jacobowitz, J, Hong, M, Weng, JK. 2019. Nat Plants 5, 41-46.
    doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0330-7PMID:30559416
  8. Monoamine Biosynthesis via a Noncanonical Calcium-Activatable Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase in Psilocybin Mushroom. Torrens-Spence, MP, Liu, CT, Pluskal, T, Chung, YK, Weng, JK. 2018. ACS Chem. Biol. 13, 3343-3353.
    doi: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00821PMID:30484626
  9. Harnessing lignin evolution for biotechnological applications. Renault, H, Werck-Reichhart, D, Weng, JK. 2019. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 56, 105-111.
    doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2018.10.011PMID:30439673
  10. Gene-guided discovery and engineering of branched cyclic peptides in plants. Kersten, RD, Weng, JK. 2018. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, E10961-E10969.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1813993115PMID:30373830
More Publications






Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute