Jing-Ke Weng

Jing-Ke Weng

Assistant 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

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. 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
  2. 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
  3. Harnessing lignin evolution for biotechnological applications. Renault, H, Werck-Reichhart, D, Weng, JK. 2018. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 56, 105-111.
    doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2018.10.011PMID:30439673
  4. 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
  5. Structural and dynamic basis of substrate permissiveness in hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT). Chiang, YC, Levsh, O, Lam, CK, Weng, JK, Wang, Y. 2018. PLoS Comput. Biol. 14, e1006511.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006511PMID:30365487
  6. Contribution of Untargeted Metabolomics for Future Assessment of Biotech Crops. Christ, B, Pluskal, T, Aubry, S, Weng, JK. 2018. Trends Plant Sci. 23, 1047-1056.
    doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.09.011PMID:30361071
  7. Firefly genomes illuminate parallel origins of bioluminescence in beetles. Fallon, TR, Lower, SE, Chang, CH, Bessho-Uehara, M, Martin, GJ, Bewick, AJ, Behringer, M, Debat, HJ, Wong, I, Day, JC et al.. 2018. Elife 7, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.36495PMID:30324905
  8. Mechanistic basis for the evolution of chalcone synthase catalytic cysteine reactivity in land plants. Liou, G, Chiang, YC, Wang, Y, Weng, JK. 2018. J. Biol. Chem. 293, 18601-18612.
    doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.005695PMID:30291143
  9. Pièce de Self-Résistance: a New Paradigm for Natural-Product Herbicide Discovery. Hill, M, Weng, JK. 2018. Mol Plant 11, 1115-1116.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2018.08.002PMID:30118809
  10. Noncatalytic chalcone isomerase-fold proteins in Humulus lupulus are auxiliary components in prenylated flavonoid biosynthesis. Ban, Z, Qin, H, Mitchell, AJ, Liu, B, Zhang, F, Weng, JK, Dixon, RA, Wang, G. 2018. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, E5223-E5232.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1802223115PMID:29760092
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Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute