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Zhonghua Bian

Research Fellow

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security


At the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Zhonghua Bian works as a research fellow in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security since 2016. As a research fellow, Dr. Bian’s research across different research areas of Engineering (Vertical Farming growth system design, Micro-environment regulation in plant factory), Plant stress physiology (drought, cold and continuous lighting) and Molecular biology. His current research focuses on sustainable technology (eg., LED lighting and vertical farming) on improving crop yield, thereby enhancing future food sustainability and security.

Career overview

  • 2016 - Present: Research fellow (GCRF funded), School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
  • 2016.01 - 2016.11: Assistant Researcher, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
  • 2014.08 - 2015.10: Researcher, Urban Agriculture Centre, Sutton Bonington Campus, The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 2016.01 - 2016.11: Assistant Researcher, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Research areas

Dr. Bian’s research interests fall into two main areas: Sustainable Agriculture and Plant-environment interaction. Dr. Bian's main aims are to investigate resource use efficiency and crop growth and nutrition regulation in a controlled environment (e.g., greenhouse and plant factory). He has a particular interest in LED lighting and related smart green technologies in vertical farming and urban agriculture. His research also focuses on understanding the mechanism of genetic control of crop yield and abiotic stress tolerance through monitoring gene expression profiles/ patterns and gene regulatory networks by post-genomic technologies (e.g. RNA Seq, bioinformatics). Current research interests include:

  1. LED lighting technology application for vegetable nutrition quality improvement and abiotic stress tolerance enhancement
  2. Smart and high-efficient control technology for Sustainable vertical farming
  3. Mobile shipping container farm design and development
  4. Greenhouse and plant factory microenvironment regulation, i.e. CO2 fertilizer, energy-saving technology

External activity

  • 2020: Invited speech at Hunan Agriculture University, Changsha, China. Title: “Uncovering LED light effects on plant growth: New angles and perspectives – LED light for improving plant growth, nutrition quality, and drought tolerance.”
  • 2019: Invited speech at Southwest University, Chongqing, China. Title: “The beneficial role of LED lighting on regulating plant growth and development”
  • 2017: Invited oral presentation in Greensys2017, Beijing, China. Title: “Continuous LED lighting for improving quality of lettuce”
  • 2016: Invited oral presentation at the 2016 University of Michigan Conference on Facility Horticulture Optics. Title:” Effects of pre-harvest continuous LED lighting on the regulation of nitrate metabolism and photosynthesis performance in hydroponic lettuce”
  • 2014: Invited oral presentation in Vertical farming and Urban Agriculture, Nottingham, UK. Title: Effects of pre-harvest continuous LED lighting on reducing nitrate content and improving nutritional compounds in hydroponic lettuce
  • 2016 - present: Reviewer of 7 journals, e.g. Environment and Experimental Botany, Journal of Agronomy

Sponsors and collaborators

  • 2018: Nottingham Trent University ARES QR fund (PI, £8,000). Short title: Transcriptomic analysis of green LED light regulating drought resistance in tomato.
  • 2018: Sustainable Futures Research Theme Fund (Researcher, £15,000). Short title: Vertical Farming for Sustainable food Cities.
  • 2017: BBSRC (Researcher, £65,000). Short title: Recovery and valorization of food chain waste nutrients with a duckweed biorefinery.
  • 2016: Nottingham Trent University Materials Research Seedcorn (Researcher, £20,000) to support fundamental research.
  • 2015: National Key Technology Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2014DFG32110, Researcher, RMB2000 K ≈ £222.2 K), the National High-Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program grant nos. 2013AA102407, Researcher, RMB2500 K ≈£278 K).
  • 2014: National High Technology Research and Development Plan of China (863 Project, grant No. 2013AA103001 and 2013AA103004, Researcher, RMB2750 K ≈ £305.5 K).
  • 2013: National High Technology Research and Development Plan of China (863 Project, grant No. 2011AA03A114, Researcher, RMB 1100 K ≈ £133.3 K) and the Basic Scientific Research Fund of the National Nonprofit Institutes (BSRF201204, Researcher, RMB 280K≈£31.1K).


  1. Zhonghua Bian, Bo Lei, Ruifeng Cheng, Yu Wang, Tao Li, Qichang Yang. (2020) Selenium distribution and nitrate metabolism in hydroponic lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.): Effects of selenium forms and light spectra. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 19(1): 133-144.
  2. Zhonghua Bian, Xiaoyan Zhang, Yu Wang Chungui Lu. (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.
  3. Ping Yang, Yu Wang, Jie Li, Zhonghua Bian*. (2019). Effects of Brassinosteroids on Photosynthetic Performance and Nitrogen Metabolism in Pepper Seedlings under Chilling Stress. Agronomy, 9(12): 839; (Correspond author)
  4. Xiaoyan Zhang, Zhonghua Bian, Shuai Li, Xin Chen, Chungui Lu. (2019)Comparative Analysis of Phenolic Compound Profiles, Antioxidant Capacities, and Expressions of Phenolic Biosynthesis-Related Genes in Soybean Microgreens Grown under Different Light Spectra. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 67: 13577.
  5. Yongcheng Chen, Tao Li, Qichang Yang, Yating Zhang, Jie Zou, Zhonghua Bian, Xiangzhen Wen. (2019). UVA Radiation is Beneficial for Yield and Quality of Indoor Cultivated Lettuce. Frontiers in Plant Science, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01563.
  6. Jie Zou, Yating Zhang, Yuqi Zhang, Zhonghua Bian, Dimitrios Fanourakis, Qichang Yang, Tao Li. (2019). Morphological and physiological properties of indoor cultivated lettuce in response to additional far-red light. Scientia Horticulturae, 12: 108725.
  7. Zhonghua Bian, Nanjun Jiang, Steven Grundy, and Chungui Lu. (2018). Uncovering LED light effects on plant growth: New angles and perspectives – LED light for improving plant growth, nutrition, and energy-use efficiency. Acta Horticulture. 1227. ISHS  doi 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1227.61
  8. Zhonghua Bian, Qichang Yang, Tao Li, Ruifeng Cheng, Yvonne Barnett, and Chungui Lu. (2018). Study of the beneficial effects of green light on lettuce was grown under short‐term continuous red and blue light‐emitting diodes. Physiologia Plantarum, 164:226–240.
  9. Zhonghua Bian, Ruifeng Cheng, Yu Wang, Qichang Yang, Chungui Lu. (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.
  10. Zhonghua Bian, Ruifeng Cheng, Qichang Yang, Jun Wang, and Chungui Lu. (2016). Continuous light from red, blue, and green light-emitting diodes reduces nitrate content and enhances phytochemical concentrations and antioxidant capacity in lettuce. Journal of American Society and Horticulture Sciences. 141:186-195.
  11. Zhonghua Bian, Qichang Yang, Wenke Liu. (2015). Effects of light quality on the accumulation of phytochemicals in vegetables produced in controlled environments: a review. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 95: 869–877
  12. Bo Lei, Zhonghua BIAN, Qichang Yang, Jun Wang, Ruifeng Cheng, et al. (2018). The positive function of selenium supplementation on reducing nitrate accumulation in hydroponic lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(4): 837–846 (Co-first author).
  13. Min Xin, Yuxin Tong, Qichang Yang, Lingling Wei, JunWang, Zhonghua Bian. (2015). Reduction in electric-energy consumption for cooling by introducing outside cold air in a plant factory. Chinese Journal of agrometeorology, 36: 287-295. (In Chinese with English Abstract)
  14. Yanchen Liu, Zhirong Zou, Xiaohui Hu, Zhonghua Bian, Yu Wang. Analysis of light and temperature conditions of sunlight greenhouses with different span lengths in Central Shaanxi Plain. (2013). Journal of Northwest A & F University-Natural Science Edition, 41: 108-116. (In Chinese with English Abstract).
  15. Zhonghua Bian,Yu Wang,Xiaohui Hu,Zhirong Zou,Jing Zhang. (2012). Effects of the outer-typer Straw reactor on solar greenhouse environment and tomato photosynthetic performance. Journal of Northwest A & F University-Natural Science Edition, 40: 136-142. (In Chinese with English Abstract)
  16. Ying Zhao, Zhenghui Gong, Tao Wang, Zhonghua Bian, Xinyi Wang. (2012). The Method of Measuring Leaf Area of Pepper(Capsicum annum) Seedlings Based on AutoCAD Software. Acta Agriculturae Boreali-occidentalis Sinica, 3: 132-136. (In Chinese with English Abstract).
  17. Yu Wang, Zhonghua Bian, Xiaohui Hu, Zhirong Zou, Quanhong Xue. (2012). Effect of actinomycetes on tomato growth and PPO activity during the seedling stage in continuously cropped soils. Journal of Northwest A & F University-Natural Science Edition, 5: 99-104. (In Chinese with English Abstract).
  18. Jing Zhang, Zhonghua Bian, Yu Wang, Zhirong Zou. (2012). The Influence of Outer Type Straw Reactor on Tomato Growth and Development. Northern Horticulture, 18: 66-69. (In Chinese with English Abstract).
  19. Book Chapter:

    1. Qichang Yang, Yunxin Tong, Ruifeng Cheng, Tao Li, Fang Hui, Xiaoli Cheng, Zhonghua Bian, Wanlai Zhou. Plant factory. Tinghua University Press (2019). (Chinese; Chapter 6: Crop Nutrient Improvement).

See all of Zhonghua Bian's publications...

Press expertise

Vertical Farming and Urban Agriculture, LED lighting, Vegetable nutrient management, Photosynthesis