Jing-Ke Weng

Jing-Ke Weng

Associate Professor of Biology; Core Member, Whitehead Institute

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





Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


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.


  • Purdue University Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award, 2021
  • The Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award, 2018
  • Scialog Fellow, 2018
  • 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

Key Publications

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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

Recent Publications

  1. transXpress: a Snakemake pipeline for streamlined de novo transcriptome assembly and annotation. Fallon, TR, Čalounová, T, Mokrejš, M, Weng, JK, Pluskal, T. 2023. BMC Bioinformatics 24, 133.
    doi: 10.1186/s12859-023-05254-8PMID:37016291
  2. Integrative analysis of multimodal mass spectrometry data in MZmine 3. Schmid, R, Heuckeroth, S, Korf, A, Smirnov, A, Myers, O, Dyrlund, TS, Bushuiev, R, Murray, KJ, Hoffmann, N, Lu, M et al.. 2023. Nat Biotechnol 41, 447-449.
    doi: 10.1038/s41587-023-01690-2PMID:36859716
  3. Genomics and biochemical analyses reveal a metabolon key to β-L-ODAP biosynthesis in Lathyrus sativus. Edwards, A, Njaci, I, Sarkar, A, Jiang, Z, Kaithakottil, GG, Moore, C, Cheema, J, Stevenson, CEM, Rejzek, M, Novák, P et al.. 2023. Nat Commun 14, 876.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36503-2PMID:36797319
  4. Emergence of a proton exchange-based isomerization and lactonization mechanism in the plant coumarin synthase COSY. Kim, CY, Mitchell, AJ, Kastner, DW, Albright, CE, Gutierrez, MA, Glinkerman, CM, Kulik, HJ, Weng, JK. 2023. Nat Commun 14, 597.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36299-1PMID:36737607
  5. Sporopollenin-inspired design and synthesis of robust polymeric materials. Glinkerman, CM, Lin, S, Ni, J, Li, FS, Zhao, X, Weng, JK. 2022. Commun Chem 5, 110.
    doi: 10.1038/s42004-022-00729-wPMID:36697794
  6. Safety of a Sustainably Produced, Bioengineered, Nature-Identical Salidroside Compound. Kasprzyk, PG, Vickery, C, Ye, M, Sewastianik, M, Gong, W, Ding, S, Dziwenka, M, Mozingo, A, Valm, K, Schachner, H et al.. 2022. Nutrients 14, .
    doi: 10.3390/nu14112330PMID:35684130
  7. Gene-Guided Discovery and Ribosomal Biosynthesis of Moroidin Peptides. Kersten, RD, Mydy, LS, Fallon, TR, de Waal, F, Shafiq, K, Wotring, JW, Sexton, JZ, Weng, JK. 2022. J Am Chem Soc 144, 7686-7692.
    doi: 10.1021/jacs.2c00014PMID:35438481
  8. Strain-level fitness in the gut microbiome is an emergent property of glycans and a single metabolite. Park, SY, Rao, C, Coyte, KZ, Kuziel, GA, Zhang, Y, Huang, W, Franzosa, EA, Weng, JK, Huttenhower, C, Rakoff-Nahoum, S et al.. 2022. Cell 185, 513-529.e21.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.01.002PMID:35120663
  9. Adaptive mechanisms of plant specialized metabolism connecting chemistry to function. Weng, JK, Lynch, JH, Matos, JO, Dudareva, N. 2021. Nat Chem Biol 17, 1037-1045.
    doi: 10.1038/s41589-021-00822-6PMID:34552220
  10. Editorial overview: Advancing basic plant research and crop improvement through cutting-edge biotechnologies. Qi, Y, Weng, JK. 2021. Curr Opin Plant Biol 60, 102069.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2021.102069PMID:34090654
More Publications







Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute