Hei Leung

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IRRI Principal Scientist Hei Leung

Hei is a plant pathologist and geneticist with a primary interest in disease resistance and genetic diversity research.

Hei also serves as program leader for Genetic Diversity and Gene Discovery. He collaborates extensively with research and breeding institutions on projects that have strategic significance in rice pathology, disease resistance, and functional genomics. Hei's group has produced a large collection of rice mutants for public use. These mutants have been used in different studies leading to the identification of new genes and pathways for different traits.

Hei’s current focus is to apply genetic diversity to address rice production problems. At the same time, develop a public genetic research platform to enhance the use and conservation of genetic diversity. He participates in research on C4 rice, genetic basis of durable disease resistance, genetics of biomass, genotype-phenotype relationships, and molecular marker applications.

{slider EXPERTISE|closed}

  • Plant pathology and genetics
  • Disease resistance and genetic diversity research

{slider EDUCATION}

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding, University of Wisconsin–Madison (1984)
  • Master of Science in Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding (1981), University of Wisconsin–Madison (1981)
  • Bachelor of Science in Plant Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1979)


  • Head, Genetics and Biotechnology Division (Nov 2015-Dec 2016)
  • Principal Scientist, IRRI (2010–present)
  • Subprogram Leader for Comparative Genomics, Generation Challenge Program (2003-2007)
  • Plant Pathologist, IRRI (1997-2009)
  • Affiliate Professor, Colorado State University (2004-present)
  • Adjunct Professor, Kansas State University (1997–2008)
  • Assistant and Associate Professor, Washington State University (1989–1997)
  • Associate Plant Pathologist, International Rice Research Institute (1986–1989)
  • McKnight Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California–Davis (1985)
  • Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin–Madison (1979–1984)

 {slider AWARDS}

  • Fellow, American Phytopathological Society (2003)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2005)
  • Honorary Researcher, Rural Development Administration, Korea
  • Honorary Researcher, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
  • Distinguished Honorary Professor, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan


  1. Leung H. 2008. Stressed genomics: bringing relief to rice fields. Curr. Opin. Pl Biol. 11:201-208.
  2. Vega-Sanchez M, Zeng L, Chen S, Leung H, Wang GL. 2008. SPIN1, a K homology domain protein negatively regulated and ubiquitinated by the E3 ubiquitin ligase SPL11, is involved in flowering time control in rice. Plant Cell 20: 1456-1469.
  3. Manosalva PM, Davidson RM, Liu B, Zhu XY, Hulbert SH, Leung H, Leach JE. 2009. A germin-like protein gene family functions as a complex quantitative trait locus conferring broad-spectrum disease resistance in rice. Plant Physiol. 149: 286-296.
  4. Bruce M, Hess A, Bai J, Mauleon R, Diaz MG, Sugiyama N, Bordeos A, Wang GL, Leung H, Leach JE. 2009. Detection of genomic deletions in rice using oligonucleotide microarrays. BMC Genomics, 10:129 DOI:10.1186/1471-2164-10-129.
  5. Carrillo MGC, Goodwin PH, Leach JE, Leung H, Vera Cruz CM. 2009. Phylogenomic relationships of rice oxalate oxidases to the cupin superfamily and their association with disease resistance QTL. Rice 2:67-79.
  6. McNally KL, Childs KL, Bohnert R, Davidson RM, Zhao K, Ulat VJ, Zeller G, Clark RM, Hoen DR, Bureau TE, Stokowski R, Ballinger DG, Frazer KA, Cox DR, Padhukasahasram B, Bustamante CD, Weigel D, Mackill DJ, Bruskiewich RM, Rätsch G, Buell CR, Leung H, Leach JE. 2009. Genomewide SNP variation reveals relationships among landraces and modern varieties of rice. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 106:12273-12278
  7. Madamba MRS, Sugiyama N, Bordeos A, Mauleon R, Satoh K, Baraoidan M, Kikuchi S, Shimamoto K, Leung H. 2009. A recessive mutation in rice conferring non-race-specific resistance to bacterial blight and blast. Rice 2: 104-114
  8. Lee JH, Muhsin M, Atienza GA, Kwak DY, Kim SM, De Leon TB, Angeles ER, Coloquio E, Kondoh H, Satoh K, Cabunagan RC, Cabauatan PQ, Kikuchi S, Leung H, Choi IL. 2010. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in a gene for translation initiation factor (eIF4G) of rice (Oryza sativa) associated with resistance to Rice tungro spherical virus. Mol Plant-Microbes Interact. 23: 29-38
  9. Davidson, R. M., Manosalva, P. M., Snelling, J., Bruce, M., Leung, H., and Leach, J. 2010. Rice germin-like proteins: allelic diversity and relationships to early stress responses. Rice 3:43-55
  10. Varshney RK, Glaszmann JC, Leung H, Ribaut, JM. 2010. More genomic resources for less-studied crops. Trends in Biotechnology, 28:452-460.
  11. Liu Y, Zhu XY, Zhang SH, Bernardo M, Edwards, J, Galbraith DW, Leach JE, Zhang G, Liu B, Leung H. 2010. Dissecting quantitative resistsance against blast disease using heterogeneous inbred family lines in rice. Theor. Appl. Genet. DOI 10.1007/s00122-010-1450-2

IRRI Principal Scientist Hei Leung
Dr. Hei Leung

Principal Scientist

International Rice Research Institute
Los Baños, Laguna

+63 2 580 5600
ext 2723