HE Jie

Associate Professor

Natural Sciences & Science Education (NSSE)

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Research Interests
plant stress physiology, photosynthesis, shoot-root communication

  • While studied as a PhD student (1987-1990) and worked as a postdoctoral fellow (1990-1991) in Australia, Dr. He Jie had been actively involved in the research on environmental stresses (light, UV-B radiation and temperature) on photosynthesis including the properties of chloroplast and its functions, light capture, electron and ion transport, chlorophyll fluorescence and Rubisco protein. Dr. He Jie worked as a Research Fellow in the Department of Botany, National University of Singapore from January 1992 to November 1994 on a project entitled "Studies on photosynthetic characteristics, photosynthetic acclimation and photoinhibition in tropical plants". Dr. He Jie is currently an Associate Professor. Her research team has been involved in studying the physiological changes of high value vegetables by cooling the root-zone (RZ) while their aerial portions are subjected to fluctuating hot ambient temperature since she joined NIE in November 1994. Dr He Jie and her team members were also involved in studying the physiology of high value vegetables by enriching RZ CO2 while their aerial portions were subjected to constant atmospheric CO2. Performance of crops with rhizosphere manipulation was monitored using chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthetic CO2 assimilation. The research team focused on nutrient uptake, N and C metabolism. Measuring total nitrate and organic N of plant tissues, assay of an important enzyme such as nitrate reductase had also been undertaken. C metabolism was studied by feeding 14CO2 and analyzing carbohydrates as well as the activity of sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS).

    The research team also investigated nitric oxide (NO) effects on the physiology of aeroponically grown vegetables at different RZTs in the tropics by 1) studying NO production under different nutrient pH, nutrient composition and RZT; 2) investigating the interaction between exogenous NO and RZT on shoot and root development; 3) studying the interaction between exogenous NO and RZT on N and C metabolism and 4) Investigating the role of exogenous NO under high RZT and high light.

    Improving the utilisation of available land area and external agricultural resources (e.g. light quality and water), via novel engineering and plant physiological solutions respectively, will deliver an efficient model of a vertical farm suitable for large scale vegetable production for the modern city such as Singapore. Recently, Dr He Jie has received a Singapore Millennium Foundation (SMF) grant to work on “Integrated Vertical Aeroponic Farming (VAF) System: Towards Food Security and Sustainability in Singapore”.

    In this on-going project, Dr He Jie is using an integrated VAF system with low energy input LED lighting which could increase not only cropping density per unit land area but also productivity in a cost-effective manner. Extensive development of integrated vertical aeroponic farming (VAF) systems would diminish Singapore’s reliance on vegetable imports, thus enhancing national food security.

    Studying on the impact of abiotic and biotic stresses on tropical orchids; photosynthesis and the utilisation of light energy of green and non-green orchid flowers; physiology of re-greening orchid flowers following pollination and physiology of orchid pseudobulbs are Dr. He Jie’s current research interests. By understanding the mechanism(s) responsible for the photosynthetic performances of different green organs under different conditions, feasible strategies could be recommended to local nursery for enhancing the harvestable yield of tropical orchids.

    Understanding the response of lost native species to environmental factors would be an important step toward a sustainable conservation in Singapore. Currently, Dr He Jie is also collaborating with Dr Tim W. Yam (Senior Researcher and Section Head, Conservation and Molecular Biology) in NParks on orchid conservation. She is offering short-term projects to both MLS and BSc final year students on responses of native orchids to growth irradiances and drought stress under natural conditions.

    Following are other two more on-going projects in Dr. He Jie’s Plant Physiology Research laboratory:   

    1. Integrated Vertical Aeroponic Farming System: Towards Food Security and Sustainability in Singapore (SMF-Farming System) (Oct 2012 to present).

    The major objectives of this projects are 1) Investigate the application of LED lighting to grow different vegetable crops; 2) Investigate the use of root and shoot environment differentials to improve crop productivity and quality in a cost-effective manner; 3) Pilot trials and commercial application of VAF technology.

    2. Root and shoot phenotyping to identify heat-resistant lettuce within recombinant inbred line populations
    (RI 9/10 HJ, March 2011 to present)

    The major objectives of this project are: i) to measure root and shoot phenotypes and productivity in a population of 113 lettuce RILs by growing them aeroponically in a tropical greenhouse in ambient conditions, to identify heat resistant genotypes; ii) to understand the mechanistic basis of variation in heat tolerance, by measuring root architecture, plant water relations, nitrogen metabolism, photosynthetic gas exchange, and utilization of radiant energy  in selected lines that differ in thermosensitivity (heat-sensitive, intermediate heat-resistant and heat-resistant), under ambient-RZT and cool-RZT; and iii) Conduct genetic (quantitative trait loci, QTL) analysis (in collaboration with geneticists at UC Davis) to identify genomic regions controlling the selected physiological variables, and to determine whether root and shoot phenotypes are closely linked genetically

    Academic Background
    • BSc, 1982 South China Normal University, China
    • MSc, 1985 South China Institute of Botany, China
    • PhD 1991 Macquarie University, Australia
    • PGDipTHE 1996 NTU, Singapore
    Professional Organisations
    • Chinese Society of Plant Physiologist (Life member)
    • Australian Society of Plant Physiologist (member)
    • American Society of Plant Physiologist (member)
    • The Singapore Institute of Biology (member)
    • International Society of Photosynthesis Research (member)
    • AAB102 Cell Structure and Function
    • AAB206 General Physiology
    • AAB303 Plant Physiology
    • AAB431 Independent Study Project (coordinator for the final year project)
    • ASK301 Topics in Biological Sciences for Primary Science Teaching
    • DSS100 Selected Topics for Primary Science Teaching (Biological Sciences)
    • MLS802 Advanced Plant Physiology
    • MLS827 earth’s Resources and responses to stress
    • MLS876 Seminars on Special Topics in the Applied Plant Sciences 
    Research Interests
    • Photosynthesis (chlorophyll fluorescence, Rubisco protein and carbohydrate metabolism)
    • Shoot-root communication (C partitioning, nutrient uptake and N metabolism)
    • Effects of Root-zone temperature  and root-zone CO2 enrichment on temperate vegetable crops  grown in the tropics
    • Nitric oxide (NO) effects on plants
    • Impact of abiotic and biotic stresses on tropical orchids
    • Phytoremediation
    Research Grants (past 5 years)
    • SMF-farming system, Integrated Vertical Aeroponic Farming System: Towards Food Security and Sustainability in Singapore (Oct 2012 to present)
    • RI 9/10 HJ, Root and shoot phenotyping to identify heat-resistant lettuce within recombinant inbred line populations (March 2011 to present)
    • RI 5/07 HJ, Physiological Roles of the Pseudobulb in Tropical Epiphytic C3 and CAM orchids (January  2008 – present)
    • RTF/034/2007, Ecology and community succession of submerged aquatic vegetation and related impacts on water quality of Lower Seletar Reservoir (Mar 2007 – present)
    • RI 7/05 HJ  Nitric oxide (NO) effects on the physiology of aeroponically grown temperate vegetables at different root-zone temperatures in the tropics (March 2006 – February 2009)
    • Mass Screening of Tropical Plant Species for Phytoremediation of Polluted Land and Field Demonstration (March 2005  - March, 2007)
    Professional Activities
    • 1998-2006: Workshop coordinator for Science Teachers
    • 2000 - 2009: Singapore Biology Olympiad, committee member
    • Jan 2008 – present, a member of the Advisory Board of “ The Open Horticulture Journal’
    • Feb 2008– present, a member of the Advisory Board of “ Environmental and Experimental Botany” (EEB)
    Graduate Supervision
    • L. P. Tan (1995 to 1998) Msc Theses.
    • Y. Flanigan-Tan (1997 to 1999). PhD Theses. The University of Queensland.
    • L.P. Tan (1998 to 2002). PhD Theses.
    • Qin Lin  (1998-2004). PhD Theses.
    • Ouyang Wen (1999-2000). MSc Theses.
    • Lou Hong Yi (2002 - 2009). PhD Theses.
    • Wang Shen Zhang (2002-2009), PhD Theses.
    • Lalitha d/o Jothinathan (Feb  2005-2007) Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Zulaiha shireen (Feb 2006 –2009). Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Hajjah Marlina Kumar (Feb 2006 – 2009). Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Teo Wei Min Stephanie (March 2007 – 2010). Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Cross Sharon Reena, (Aril 2007-2010) Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Lee Pei Sze (Feb 2007 – June 2011), MSc Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Aminda Chua (Jan 2007 – Dec 2011). Dissertation for MSc (Life Science).
    • Choogn Tsui Wei (Jan 2011 – present), MSc Theses.
    Conferences & Workshops
    • Keynote speech, URBAN AGRICULTURE SUMMIT 2013, Linköping, Sweden. 29 to 31 Jan 2013.
    • Keynote speech, International Conference and Exhibition on Soilless Culture, 22 to 25, May 2012, Shanghai, China.
    • The 20th World Orchid Conference, Singapore (13 to 16, November 2011)
    • The 15th International Congress on Photosynthesis. Beijing China (22 – 28 August 2010).
    • Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program(Horticulture CRSP) Singapore (May 2010).
    • "International Conference & Exhibition on Soilless Culture - 2010" - ICESC-2010. Singapore (March 2010)
    • Adaptation and exploitation of Climate Chang. Maidstone, UK (22 September, 2009).
    • Inter-drought III, Shanghai, China (2009)
    • International Conference on Environment 2008, Penang, Malaysia (15-17, December 2008).