Zhen-Ming Pei


Associate Professor of Biology

My laboratory is interested in the early signaling events by which plants sense environmental signals and decode to give the appropriate responses. Upon perception of external signals, cell surface receptors trigger an increase in cytosolic free calcium concentration, which is mediated by ion channels. Our long-term goals are to identify these receptors and ion channels, isolate their interacting components, and assign molecular functions to them. Currently, we are using multidisciplinary approaches of biophysics, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, and function genomics to dissect the signaling cascades of external calcium as well as nitric oxide in the model plant Arabidopsis.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 3102 Ffsc, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-1000
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-8152
  • Email Address: zpei@duke.edu


  • Ph.D. Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology (China), 1993
  • M.S. Fudan University (China), 1990
  • B.S. Lanzhou University (China), 1985

Courses Taught

  • BIOLOGY 213D: Cell Signaling and Diseases
  • BIOLOGY 412S: Sensory Signal Transduction
  • BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Liu, C; Wang, H; Zhang, Y; Cheng, H; Hu, Z; Pei, Z-M; Li, Q, Systematic Characterization of the OSCA Family Members in Soybean and Validation of Their Functions in Osmotic Stress., International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol 23 no. 18 (2022) [10.3390/ijms231810570] [abs].
  • Pei, S; Liu, Y; Li, W; Krichilsky, B; Dai, S; Wang, Y; Wang, X; Johnson, DM; Crawford, BM; Swift, GB; Vo-Dinh, T; Pei, Z-M; Yuan, F, OSCA1 is an osmotic specific sensor: a method to distinguish Ca2+ -mediated osmotic and ionic perception., The New Phytologist, vol 235 no. 4 (2022), pp. 1665-1678 [10.1111/nph.18217] [abs].
  • Wu, X; Yuan, F; Wang, X; Zhu, S; Pei, Z-M, Evolution of osmosensing OSCA1 Ca2+ channel family coincident with plant transition from water to land., The Plant Genome Journal, vol 15 no. 2 (2022) [10.1002/tpg2.20198] [abs].
  • Chi, Y; Wang, C; Wang, M; Wan, D; Huang, F; Jiang, Z; Crawford, BM; Vo-Dinh, T; Yuan, F; Wu, F; Pei, Z-M, Flg22-induced Ca2+ increases undergo desensitization and resensitization., Plant, Cell & Environment, vol 44 no. 12 (2021), pp. 3563-3575 [10.1111/pce.14186] [abs].
  • Jacob, P; Kim, NH; Wu, F; El-Kasmi, F; Chi, Y; Walton, WG; Furzer, OJ; Lietzan, AD; Sunil, S; Kempthorn, K; Redinbo, MR; Pei, Z-M; Wan, L; Dangl, JL, Plant "helper" immune receptors are Ca2+-permeable nonselective cation channels., Science (New York, N.Y.), vol 373 no. 6553 (2021), pp. 420-425 [10.1126/science.abg7917] [abs].