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Dr Yiguo Hong

Job Title
Senior Research Scientist
Life Sciences
Research Interests

I have explored a wide spectrum of scientific projects and have long and ongoing research interests in four broad but interlinked research fields.

  • Molecular Virology-Viral gene expression and function, viral RNA/DNA replication and virus-host (plants and fungi) interactions.
  • RNA Signaling-Roles of RNA molecules in signal transduction associated with flowering and RNA silencing-mediated plant immunity against viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens and insects.
  • Plant Epigenetics-Epigenetic modulation in tomato (leaf, fruit and seed) development and response to abiotic stresses.
  • Virus-based Technology for Plant Functional Omics, and Novel Strategies for Crop Improvement.

Over years, I have been interested in engineering plant antiviral resistance such as development of an inducible suicidal strategy to protect plants from virus infection. These works have led to uncover the first RNA silencing suppressor encoded by DNA viruses, and to create a transDNA system to study viral DNA replication and virus-plant interactions. We also reported the first RNA silencing suppressor encoded by fungal viruses and sequenced genomes of multiple fungal mitochondrial viruses and established a new fungal virus genus Mitovirus. We proposed the concept of virus gateway and survival of plant innate silencing defence, and developed an in planta RNA mobility assay to investigate RNA signaling in flowering and in intercellular and systemic RNA silencing. We developed virus-induced flowering systems for floral induction and later extended this technology to dissect gene functions related to flowering time, seed yields and other traits in dicot and monocot crops including wheat and millet. We developed VIGS systems to investigate gene function and roles of DNA methylation and demethylation as well as microRNAs in tomato development and fruit ripening. tomato seed vivipary, and somatic inheritance of a tomato epimutation. More recently, we demonstrated active involvement of epigenetic modulators and microRNAs in tomato response to abiotic stresses. We also developed a virus-induced gene editing system in plants. These works have led to numerous scientific publications:
Google Scholar


I obtained a BSc in Microbiology in 1984, an MSc in Microbial Genetics in 1987 and a PhD in Plant Virology in 1990.

I am an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. I serve as Member for the UKRI International Development Peer Review College, Member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) Panel College, and Member of the UKRI FLF Sift and Interview Panels. I am a Mentor for the UKRI FLF Leadership Mentoring Programme. I also serve as Editor or Editorial Board Member for several international journals.

Title Funder Award start Award end
Unravelling the impact of the mite varroa destructor on the interaction between the honeybee and its viruses BBSRC 01 Jan 2011 31 Dec 2013
UK-China Scholarships for Excellence - Mr Zhou Tao China Scholarship Council 01 Mar 2010 28 Feb 2011
Molecular Dissection of the SPB Protein in Cell-fate Determination and Fruit Development Royal Society 01 Sep 2007 31 Aug 2008
Targeting SiRNA hotspot - a novel strategy for controlling tomato viral disease Royal Society 02 Jan 2008 01 Apr 2008
International Incoming Fellowships - China fellowships Royal Society 05 Jan 2007 04 Jan 2008
Production of vaccines and pharmaceutical proteins in plants. Chengdu Institute of Biological Products 04 Jan 2005 03 Jan 2008