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Chungui Lu

Chungui Lu


School of Animal Rural & Environmental Sciences

Staff Group(s)


Dr Chungui Lu is a Professor in Sustainable Agriculture specialising in the Plant Genomics, Plant Molecular Biology and Vertical Farming/Urban Agriculture. He is a leader of Sustainable Agriculture Research Group. He leads Internationalization in the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.

As a principal investigator or co-investigator, Professor Lu has been awarded a number of research grants supported by Innovate UK, BBSRC, the European Commission, industries and other external funding bodies. Currently, he has joint research projects with industrial companies such as Growing Underground/Zero Carbon Food Ltd, MicroMix Plant Health Ltd/Olmix Group and Microsoft.

Prof Lu is involved in teaching in innovations for Food Security, Plant Biotechnology, Horticulture and Vertical Farming. He is also part of several University-wide groups, such as School Nottingham Trent International College (academic link tutor); NTU Global Summer School; Nottingham City Council Urban Room Group, Nottingham Good Food Partnership Group.

Career overview

Prior to joining NTU, Professor Lu was Director of the Centre for Urban Agriculture at the University of Nottingham. Professor Lu graduated with MSc in Plant Physiology from Yangzhou University, China in 1992 and gained a PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from the University of Nottingham in 2000. Following 3 years postdoc position at the University of Wales in Bangor and 3 years research as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol/Rothamsted Research, he took up a joint post as a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University in 2006. Professor Lu taught across 12 modules (e.g. Advanced Omics Technologies, Genetic Analysis & Bioinformatics, Genetic Crop Improvement, Transferable Skills) whilst working in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. He joined NTU as a Professor in 2016.

Research areas

Professor Lu’s research interests fall into two main areas: Sustainable Agriculture and Plant Genomics. Professor Lu's main aim is to investigate resource use efficiency, in particular nutrients (e.g. N, P) and energy (LED light) use efficiency in both soil and soilless growing systems. He has particular interest in vertical farming and urban agriculture through smart green growth technologies. His research also focuses on the use of post-genomic technologies (e.g. RNA Seq, bioinformatics) to monitor gene expression profiles/ patterns and gene regulatory networks for understanding genetic control for crop improvement. Current research interests include:

  • Sustainable vertical farming through innovative precision agriculture
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) lights regulate plant growth and development
  • Biostimulants enhance plant tolerance to abiotic stress
  • Systematic functional analysis of nitrogen/phosphate use efficiency in crops

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards and MPhil/PhD exist, and further information may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

  • UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)  Food Network+  Champion for Asia (Sustainable Production)
  • Board member of the World Society of Sustainable Energy Technologies (WSSET)
  • Board member of GreenSys (new technologies for environment control and crop improvement)
  • Board member of the International Committee of Urban Agriculture and Vertical Farming
  • Head of the International Centre for Ultra-Sustainable Crops (ICUSC)
  • Advisor to the Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) committee
  • Member of the Association of Applied Biologists; Society of Experimental Botany UK
  • Expert reviewer for National Foundational Sciences (NFS), China
  • Member of EU Systems Biology; Smart City Committee Panel
  • Guest Editor for Genes (MDPI)
  • Annual Plant Reviews online Associate Editor
  • Journal editorial board member: Frontiers in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; Journal of Nutrition & Health; Advances in Agriculture

Sponsors and collaborators

Selected research projects supported by external funding bodies:

  • Smart Green Grow - Design and development of an advanced, energy-efficient, carbon-neutral, turnkey vertical farm for onsite use at retailers, schools and end-users, Innovate UK SMART, in collaboration with Henley Associate, UK (2021-2023). Project grant:  £770,500
  • Development and demonstration of smart and high-efficient technologies for fruits and vegetable production in greenhouse and plant factory, Innovate UK  (TSB 116937-671203), in collaboration with GreenGrow, Ltd., UK, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing Research Centre for Intelligent Equipment, Beijing University of Technology, Henan University of Science and Technology and AgriGarden Co., Ltd., (2021-2023). Project grant: £1.5m
  • Assessing the feasibility of IoT precision data solution for vertical farming, STFC Food Network+ Scoping Project Funding (2020-2021). Project grant: £7,900
  • Assessing the feasibility of all-in-one growing sensor and innovative transmission node for vertical farms - driving energy efficiency, productivity and commercial viability, ISCF Transforming Food Production (2020-2021), in collaboration with Light Science and Technologies Ltd. Project grant: £250,000
  • Improving the productivity, sustainability, and scalability of hydroponic growing systems, Innovate UK (2018-2021), in collaboration with Growing Underground/Zero Carbon Food Ltd. Project grant: £784,163
  • Increasing drought resistance in crops by biostimulants and micronutrients, Innovate UK (2018-2021), in collaboration with MicroMix Plant Health Ltd/Olmix Group. Project grant: £807,948
  • Establishing Innovative Smart Vertical Farm APP in the shipping container farm, Microsoft (2019-2021). Project grant: $15,000
  • Enhanced nutritional value and tolerance to abiotic stress in crops through biostimulant and micronutrients with influence on epigenetics, Olmix Group (2018-2021). Project grant: £73,290
  • Recovery and valorisation of food chain waste nutrients with a duckweed biorefinery, BBSRC (2017-2018). Project grant: £65,000
  • Measurement of plant growth and health for optimal crop yield in LED horticulture, Innovate UK (2013-2016). Project grant: £1.5m
  • The concept of plant growth stimulators that protect against heat-stress in greenhouse crops, Innovate UK, TSB Smart project (2015-2017), £165k
  • Innovative energy saving and climate control system for greenhouses, Innovate UK, Agri-Tech Catalyst (2014-2016), £497k
  • Pig feed efficiency BBSRC (2012-2016), £735k
  • High throughput intermediate scale sequencing for the Midlands, BBSRC (2014-2017), £350k
  • Programming genome with LED light in tomato, BBSRC DTP (2015-2019), £80K
  • New answers for old problems: a global interdisciplinary training network to address key questions in plant development, British Council (2014-2016), £100k
  • Innovative active-uptake foliar nutrition technology capable of significantly reducing pesticide rates in wheat, EU-Horizon 2020 first-round award (2015-2017), £100k
  • Urban agriculture: ensuring resource use efficiency in vertically integrated farming, CFFRC (2013-2017), £80k
  • A multidimensional approach to transfer data from major crops to minor crops for global food security, CFFRC (2013-2017), £100k.

Key collaborators:


OH, S. and LU, C., 2022. Vertical farming - smart urban agriculture for enhancing resilience and sustainability in food security. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology. ISSN 1462-0316

LU, C. and SUN, W., 2022. Greenhouse heating by energy transfer between greenhouses: system design and implementation. Applied Energy, 325: 119815. ISSN 0306-2619

LIU, H., WANG, W., YANG, M., YUAN, P., HAMMOND, J.P., KING, G.J., DING, G., WHITE, P.J., WANG, S., CAI, H., WANG, C., LU, C., XU, F. and SHI, L., 2022. Genome‐wide association studies of important agronomic traits in Brassica napus: what we have learned and where we are headed. Annual Plant Reviews Online, 5 (2). ISSN 2639-3832

HEYNES, X., WANG, D. and LU, C., 2022. Plant genome editing: advances and prospects of market-ready food crops. Annual Plant Reviews Online, 5 (2). ISSN 2639-3832

BIAN, Z., WANG, Y., ZHANG, X., GRUNDY, S., HARDY, K., YANG, Q. and LU, C., 2021. A transcriptome analysis revealing the new insight of green light on tomato plant growth and drought stress tolerance. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12: 649283.
OH, S., CAVE, G. and LU, C., 2021. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and micronutrient fortification in food crops using nanoparticle technology. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12: 668819. ISSN 1664-462X

NADARAJA, M.D., LU, C. and ISLAM, D.M.M., 2021. The sustainability assessment of plantation agriculture - a systematic review of sustainability indicators. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 26, pp. 892-910.
HARDY, K., ORRIDGE, T., HEYNES, X., GUNASENA, S., GRUNDY, S. and LU, C., 2021. Farming the future: contemporary innovations enhancing sustainability in the agri‐sector. Annual Plant Reviews Online, 4 (2), pp. 263-294. ISSN 2639-3832

ZHENG, Z., CAI, Y., ZHAO, Y., MENG, X., ZHANG, Y., LU, C., HU, Y., CUI, Z. and WANG, X., 2020. Achieve clean and efficient biomethane production by matching between digestate recirculation and straw-to-manure feeding ratios. Journal of Cleaner Production, 263: 121414. ISSN 0959-6526

ZHANG, X., BIAN, Z., YUAN, X., CHEN, X. and LU, C., 2020. A review on the effects of light-emitting diode (LED) light on the nutrients of sprouts and microgreens. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 99, pp. 203-216. ISSN 0924-2244

ZHANG, X., BIAN, Z., LI, S., CHEN, X. and LU, C., 2019. Comparative analysis of phenolic compounds profile, antioxidant capacity, and expression of phenolic biosynthesis-related genes in soybean microgreens grown under different light spectra. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. ISSN 0021-8561

BIAN, Z., ZHANG, X., WANG, Y. and LU, C., 2019. Improving drought tolerance by altering the photosynthetic rate and stomatal aperture via green light in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) seedlings under drought conditions. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 167: 103844. ISSN 0098-8472

LIU, X., ZHU, X., WEI, X., LU, C., SHEN, F., ZHANG, X. and ZHANG, Z., 2019. The wheat LLM-domain-containing transcription factor TaGATA1 positively modulates host immune response to Rhizoctonia cerealis. Journal of Experimental Botany. ISSN 0022-0957

AJMERA, I., HODGMAN, T.C. and LU, C.,   2019.  An integrative systems perspective on plant phosphate research. Genes, 10 (2): 139. ISSN 2073-4425

GU, J., LI, W., WANG, S., ZHANG, X., COULES, A., DING, G., XU, F., REN, J., LU, C. and SHI, L.,   2019.  Differential alternative splicing genes in response to boron deficiency in Brassica napus. Genes, 10 (3): 224. ISSN 2073-4425

ZHANG, X., WEI, J., HUANG, Y., SHEN, W., CHEN, X., LU, C., SU, N. and CUI, J.,   2018.  Increased cytosolic calcium contributes to hydrogen-rich water-promoted anthocyanin biosynthesis under UV-A irradiation in radish sprouts hypocotyls. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9: 1020. ISSN 1664-462X

BIAN, Z., CHENG, R., WANG, Y., YANG, Q. and LU, C.,   2018.  Effect of green light on nitrate reduction and edible quality of hydroponically grown lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) under short-term continuous light from red and blue light-emitting diodes. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 153,63-71. ISSN 0098-8472

BIAN, Z., YANG, Q., LI, T., CHENG, R., BARNETT, Y. and LU, C.,   2018.  Study of the beneficial effects of green light on lettuce grown under short-term continuous red and blue light-emitting diodes. Physiologia Plantarum, 164 (2),226-240. ISSN 0031-9317

WANG, L., GUO, M., LI, Y., RUAN, W., MO, X., WU, Z., STURROCK, C.J., YU, H., LU, C., PENG, J. and MAO, C.,   2018.  LARGE ROOT ANGLE1, encoding OsPIN2, is involved in root system architecture in rice. Journal of Experimental Botany, 69 (3), pp. 385-397. ISSN 0022-0957

AJMERA, I., SHI, J., GIRI, J., WU, P., STEKEL, D.J., LU, C. and HODGMAN, T.C.,   2018.  Regulatory feedback response mechanisms to phosphate starvation in rice. npj Systems Biology and Applications, 4 (1), p. 4. ISSN 2056-7189

JIANG, L., BALL, G., HODGMAN, C., COULES, A., ZHAO, H. and LU, C.,   2018.  Analysis of gene regulatory networks of maize in response to nitrogen. Genes, 9 (3), p. 151. ISSN 2073-4425

WANG, M., ZHU, X., WANG, K., LU, C., LUO, M., SHAN, T. and ZHANG, Z.,   2018.  A wheat caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase TaCOMT-3D positively contributes to both resistance to sharp eyespot disease and stem mechanical strength. Scientific Reports, 8: 6543. ISSN 2045-2322

Gluten quality of bread wheat is associated with activity of RabD GTPases. Tyler AM, Bhandari DG, Poole M, Napier JA, Jones HD, Lu C and Lycett GW, Plant Biotechnology Journal, 2015, 13 (2), 163-176

Network inference analysis identifies an aprr2-like gene linked to pigment accumulation in tomato and pepper fruits. Pan Y, Bradley G, Pyke k, Ball G, Lu C, Fray R, Marshal A, Ayasuta S, Baxter C, Wijk R V, Boyden L, Cade R, Chapman NH, Fraser PD, Hodgman C and Seymour G, Plant Physiology, 2013, 161, 1476-1485

See all of Chungui Lu's publications...

Press expertise

  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Urban agriculture
  • Container farms
  • Vertical farming
  • Plant genomics
  • Plant quality and growth
  • Plant growing methods (including LED lighting)
  • Precision farming