Lailiang Cheng

Lailiang Cheng


120 Plant Science
(607) 255-1779

I have an appointment of research and extension in nutrition physiology and stress physiology of deciduous fruit crops with emphasis on apples and grapevines. The goal of my research programs is to better understand the physiological processes underlying carbon/mineral nutrition and environmental stresses on plant growth, fruiting and fruit quality and develop management practices for improving orchard productivity and fruit quality. I am also involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Research Focus

The interaction between carbon and nitrogen dominates the primary metabolism in plants, and therefore elucidating this interaction is critical for understanding the physiology of the whole plant. We are currently focused on how nitrogen supply affects carbon metabolism and nitrogen metabolism in both apples and grapes. Pome and stone fruits of the Rosaceae family, such as apple and cherry, are unique in that sorbitol serves as a primary end-product of photosynthesis and a major translocated carbohydrate in the phloem. Sorbitol is also implicated in responses to environmental stresses. We are using apple trees with decreased sorbitol synthesis to understand the role sorbitol plays in carbohydrate metabolism, organic acid metabolism and nitrogen metabolism, and stress tolerance. We are very interested in both primary metabolism and secondary metabolism relevant to fruit quality during fruit growth and development as well as their responses to nutrient stress and other environmental stresses. Sugar/acid accumulation and metabolism in apple fruit is one of the foci of our current work. On the more applied side, our research addresses uptake, translocation, storage, and remobilization and demand-supply relationship of nitrogen and other nutrients in apples and grapevines to provide basis for optimizing nutrient inputs into both apple orchards and vineyards.

Outreach and Extension Focus

The goal of my extension program is to effectively deliver research-based, up to date information and provide expertise concerning nutrient management to the apple and grape industries in New York through collaborations with faculty, extension educators, and growers. My extension activities are closely tied with my applied research. The current focus is management of nitrogen, potassium, calcium and other essential nutrients to improve yield and quality of high density apple plantings.

Teaching Focus

My goal in teaching and advising is to train students so that they develop to realize their academic potential, resulting in not only getting a degree from Cornell, but more importantly becoming a “thinker” and a “doer” in the field of horticultural sciences.

My teaching has been largely in mineral nutrition of fruit crops and advanced analytical techniques in plant science.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications