Zeng, Lanying individual record
Associate Professor

Living systems make decisions by integrating information from their environments in order to optimize their own fitness. This decision-making process has many intricacies, with a dual nature characterized by stochasticity and determinism, and considerable effort has been dedicated to characterizing the factors contributing to cell-fate heterogeneity. Our primary goal is to determine how multiple environmental and genetic factors, some deterministic and some stochastic, impact developmental outcomes. We choose to study paradigms of cellular decision-making such as bacteriophage lambda lytic-lysogenic development to simplify the complicated nature of cell-fate selection. By distilling the study of a ubiquitous and vital process into basic questions, we hope to generate new insights into how decision-making affects cellular development and differentiation in higher organisms.

We utilize high-resolution live-cell fluorescence microscopy, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, quantitative data analysis, and simple mathematical modeling to mechanistically dissect the decision-making processes at single-cell/molecule levels. Our favorite biological models are the lysis-lysogeny systems of bacteria and their viruses, like E. coli being infected by paradigm phages lambda and P1. By revisiting established systems with a new, technologically advanced perspective, we are able to reveal previously hidden complexities to better understand the nature of living cells.

education and training
selected publications
Academic Articles26
  • Kishida, K., Bosserman, R. E., Harb, L., Khara, P., Song, L., Hu, B. o., Zeng, L., & Christie, P. J. (2022). Contributions of Fspecific subunits to the F plasmidencoded type IV secretion system and F pilus. Molecular Microbiology.
    doi badge
  • Gonzales, M. F., Piya, D. K., Koehler, B., Zhang, K., Yu, Z., Zeng, L., & Gill, J. J. (2022). New Insights into the Structure and Assembly of Bacteriophage P1. Viruses. 14(4), 678-678.
    doi badge
  • Zhang, K., Pankratz, K., Duong, H., Theodore, M., Guan, J., Jiang, A. A., Lin, Y., & Zeng, L. (2021). Interactions between Viral Regulatory Proteins Ensure an MOI-Independent Probability of Lysogeny during Infection by Bacteriophage P1. mBio. 12(5), e01013-e01021.
    doi badge
  • Costa, T., Harb, L., Khara, P., Zeng, L., Hu, B. o., & Christie, P. J. (2021). Type IV secretion systems: Advances in structure, function, and activation. Molecular Microbiology. 115(3), 436-452.
    doi badge
  • Trinh, J. T., Shao, Q., Guan, J., & Zeng, L. (2020). Emerging heterogeneous compartments by viruses in single bacterial cells. Nature Communications. 11(1), 3813.
    doi badge
  • Cortes, M. G., Lin, Y., Zeng, L., & Balzsi, G. (2021). From Bench to Keyboard and Back Again: A Brief History of Lambda Phage Modeling.. Annual Review of Biophysics. ANNUAL REVIEW OF BIOPHYSICS, VOL 50, 2021. 117-134. Annual Reviews.
    doi badge pubmed badge
  • Trinh, J. T., & Zeng, L. (2020). Phage-Phage Interactions. Biocommunication of Phages. 87-102. Springer International Publishing.
    doi badge
Conference Papers1
  • Zeng, L., Balachandar, S., Fischer, P. F., & Najjar, F. (2005). INTERACTION OF A FINITE-SIZED PARTICLE WITH WALL TURBULENCE. Proceeding of Fourth International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena, Fourth International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena. 1, 201-205.
    doi badge
Repository Documents / Preprints1
  • Kirillov, A., Morozova, N., Polinovaskaya, V., Smirnov, S., Khodorkovskii, M., Zeng, L., Ispolatov, Y., & Severinov, K. (2022). Cells with Stochastically Increased Methyltransferase to Restriction Endonuclease Ratio Provide an Entry for Bacteriophage into Protected Cell Population.
    doi badge
in the news
chaired theses and dissertations
First Name
Last Name
mailing address
Texas A&M University; Biochemistry & Biophysics; 2128 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-2128