Texas A&M AgriLife Research crop ecophysiologist joins Uvalde center

UVALDE — Dr. Xuejun Dong of Texas A&M AgriLife Research has been appointed crop ecophysiologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1619 Garner Field Road in Uvalde.

Dr. Xuejun Dong of Texas A&M AgriLife Research has joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Reseach and Extension Center n Uvalde as an ecophysiologist. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Dr. Xuejun Dong of Texas A&M AgriLife Research has recently joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Reseach and Extension Center in Uvalde as a crop ecophysiologist. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Dong, who is with Texas A&M University’s soil and crop sciences department, began his duties at the Uvalde center Sept. 3.

He has a bachelor’s degree in plant physiology from Lanzhou University, China, and both a master’s degree and doctorate in ecophysiology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Dr. Dong’s duties at the center will include developing a better understanding of ecophysiological mechanisms regulating water-use efficiency in irrigated crop production systems in the Winter Garden region and beyond,” said Dr. Daniel Leskovar, the center‘s resident director.

“We hope that his past and future research will create a foundation for better irrigation management strategies and more efficient crop production systems under water-limited conditions, as well as drought and heat stresses prevalent in the Winter Garden and other areas of Texas,” Leskovar said.

Leskovar said Dong’s primary research focus is in soil-plant water relations in irrigated crop production, physiological traits in relation to crop water-use efficiency in cropping system, and modeling crop water use and production under irrigation management and changing environments.

Some of his previous research includes:

– Demonstrating the importance of root water uptake compensation in maintaining transpiration under water stress.

– Using resampling to show long-term heavy use of rangeland induced significant reduction in fine root biomass in mixed-grass prairie.

– Characterizing water-use strategies of selected desert and grassland plants based on soil-plant water studies.

– Providing a major synthesis of current progress in carbon flux from managed grasslands in the U.S.

– Characterizing the effects of physiological and environmental factors controlling grassland soil respiration.

“My work at the center will include investigating methods for reliable and sensitive quantification of evapotranspiration of selected crops in relation to water supply and demand for crop transpiration and yield formation,” Dong said. “I wanted to come to the center due to the facilities and technology available here for my research.

“I will be doing field-based research using the lysimeters here to help quantify the evapotranspiration data. However, we still need to link that data to crop physiology, so I also plan to do some modeling on water flow based on temperature, light and other environmental factors so this information can be translated from the research field into producers’ fields.”

Dong said both the work and the environment at the center will be different for him.

“I previously worked in North Dakota, where it was a lot cooler and my research was primarily on prairie grasslands and shrubs,” he said. “I’m still adjusting to the hotter weather here, and now my research focus will be on annual crops such as wheat, corn and cotton. But this is a dynamic center with excellent collaboration between other centers and the Texas A&M University System. I think it’s going to be exciting and challenging to work here.”

Dong is a member of the Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America and American Institute of Biological Sciences. He is also an associate editor for Arid Land Research and Management and associate editor for Photosynthetica, and has reviewed manuscripts for 17 international journals. He also has 40 refereed journal publications, as well as book chapters and other technical publications.

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