Profile – Cheng-Wu Liu

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Cheng-Wu Liu

Job Title:

Postdoctoral Scientist


Phone Number:

+44 (0) 1603 450172


Legume plants such as peas and beans can form nodulation symbioses with some soil bacteria called rhizobia. During nodulation rhizobia enter into the inner root tissues of its host legume (“rhizobial infection”) and eventually in the root nodules cells they convert N2 into the plant-usable form NH3 (“biological nitrogen fixation”). This process is inhibited by high nitrogen content in the soil.
Since 7 years ago I have also been using genetics, biochemistry and cell biology approaches to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the rhizobial infection process which is a prerequisite for nitrogen fixation in legumes. Currently I am also working on how nitrogen is sensed in legumes during nodulation. The aim is to identify and characterize components of the legume nitrogen-sensing apparatus and to understand the links between nitrogen perception and nodulation

Research Areas:

  • Plant-Microbe Symbioses
  • Plant Nutrition

Current N-related Projects:

  • Nitrogen Sensing in Legumes


Roy S, Robson F, Lilley J, Liu CW, Cheng X, Wen J, Walker S, Sun J, Cousins D, Bone C, Bennett MJ, Downie JA, Swarup R, Oldroyd G, Murray JD (2017) MtLAX2, a Functional Homologue of the Arabidopsis Auxin Influx Transporter AUX1, Is Required for Nodule Organogenesis. Plant Physiol. 174: 326-338.

Hane JK, Ming Y, Kamphuis LG, Nelson MN, Garg G, Atkins CA, Bayer PE, Bravo A, Bringans S, Cannon S, Edwards D, Foley R, Gao LL, Harrison MJ, Huang W, Hurgobin B, Li S, Liu CW, McGrath A, Morahan G, Murray J, Weller J, Jian J, Singh KB (2017) A comprehensive draft genome sequence for lupin (Lupinus angustifolius), an emerging health food: insights into plant–microbe interactions and legume evolution. Plant Biotechnol J. 15 (3): 318–30.

Liu CW, Murray JD (2016) The role of flavonoids in nodulation host-range specificity: an update. Plants. 5:33 (Invited Review)

Murray JD, Liu CW, Chen Y, Miller AJ (2016) Nitrogen sensing in legumes. Journal of Experimental Botany. 68(8):1919-1926 (Invited Review)

Sinharoy S, Liu CW, Breakspear A, Guan D, Shailes S, Nakashima J, Zhang S, Wen J, Torres-Jerez I, Oldroyd G, Murray JD, Udvardi M (2016) A Medicago truncatula Cystathionine Beta Synthase like domain-containing protein is required for rhizobial infection and symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Plant Physiol. 170:2204-17.

Liu CW, Breakspear A, Roy S, Murray JD (2015) Cytokinin responses counterpoint auxin signaling during rhizobial infection. Plant Signaling & Behavior. 10: e1019982.

Chen DS, Liu CW, Roy S, Cousins D, Stacey N, Murray JD (2015) Identification of a core set of rhizobial infection genes using data from single cell-types. Frontiers in Plant Science. 6:575

Breakspear A, Liu C, Cousins DR, Roy S, Guan D, Murray JD (2015) The role of hormones in rhizobial infection. Biological Nitrogen Fixation, Chapter 56. Editor Frans J. de Bruijn, Wiley-Blackwell, New York, 2015. DOI: 10.1002/9781119053095.ch56 (Book chapter)

Breakspear A#, Liu C#, Roy S, Stacey N, Rogers C, Trick M, Morieri G, Mysore KS, Wen J, Oldroyd GE, Downie JA, Murray JD (2014) The root hair “infectome” of Medicago truncatula uncovers changes in cell cycle genes and reveals a requirement for Auxin signaling in rhizobial infection. Plant Cell. 26(12):4680-701. (# co-first author)

Wang E, Yu N, Bano SA, Liu C, Miller AJ, Cousins D, Zhang X, Ratet P, Tadege M, Mysore KS, Downie JA, Murray JD, Oldroyd GE, Schultze M (2014). A H+-ATPase That Energizes Nutrient Uptake during Mycorrhizal Symbioses in Rice and Medicago truncatula. Plant Cell. 26(4):1818-1830.

Murray JD, Cousins DR, Jackson KJ, Liu C (2013) Signaling at the Root Surface: The Role of Cutin Monomers in Mycorrhization. Mol Plant. 6(5):1381-3. (Invited Review)

Guan D, Stacey N, Liu C, Wen J, Mysore KS, Torres-Jerez I, Vernié T, Tadege M, Zhou C, Wang ZY, Udvardi MK, Oldroyd GE, Murray JD (2013) Rhizobial Infection Is Associated with the Development of Peripheral Vasculature in Nodules of Medicago truncatula. Plant Physiol. 162(1): 107-115.