Associate Professor Xue-Xian Zhang staff profile picture

Contact details +6492136593

Associate Professor Xue-Xian Zhang PhD

Associate Professor

Doctoral Supervisor
School of Natural and Computational Sciences

Career Overview. I obtained my PhD degree at the State Key Laboratories of Agricultural Microbiology (Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China), and did my first post-doc research in RWTH Aachen University (Germany). My research in Germany was funded by the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) scholarship. Next, I took up a post-doc position at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford (Oxford, UK). After spending five years in Europe, I accepted a job offer from the University of Auckland, and moved to New Zealand in 2003. Finally, I relocated to the Albany campus of Massey University in 2007, and currently work as an Associate Professor at the School of Natural and Computational Sciences (SNCS). Altogether, I have continuously pursued active research in Molecular Genetics & Microbiology for over 25 years at world-class universities. 

Research. The fundamental research in my lab is largely performed in the model organism of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25, a plant growth-promoting and diseases-suppression bacterium originally isolated from sugar beet. Specifically, modern tools in molecular biology are used to elucidate the genetic and physiological responses of bacteria to the environment, aiming to provide insights into the nature of the complex environment itself. The applied research focuses on the use of copper-containing antimicrobial compounds and high-efficient microbial inoculants in agriculture. Our research is currently funded by MBIE Catalyst | Strategic (2019 – 2022) and Zespri Innovation Ltd (2019 – 2021).

Teaching and Supervision. I have been involved in undergraduate teachings in the broad fields of molecular biology, genetics and microbiology; and the supervision (and co-supervision) of masters and PhD students.

My primary expertise is in Molecular GeneticsMicrobiology. Current research in my lab focuses on:

  • The molecular mechanisms of bacterial adaptation to their natural environments, i.e. plant and soil;
  • Developing microbiological knowledge and technology to mitigate nitrate pollution of water from agriculture;
  • Enhancing the efficacy of copper bactericides for controlling the bacterial canker disease (Psa) in kiwifruits.
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Professional

Contact details

  • Ph: (09) 4140800 ext. 41191
    Location: 02, 14
    Campus: Albany

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy - Huazhong Agricultural University (1993)

Certifications and Registrations

  • Licence, Supervisor, Massey University

Research Expertise

Research Interests

The microbiological research performed in my lab range from molecular genetics to ecology and evolution. The molecular work has been focused on the genetic characterization of genes involved in nutrients acquisition, and this long-term research was supported by a Marsden Fund grant of the Royal Society of New Zealand (2006-2010). The experimental evolution work uses the fast-growing bacterium as a model system, whereby some important questions in biological evolution have been addressed. These include the evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation (and cheating), bet hedging, the roles of immigration in biological diversification, and the effects of genetic constraints on evolutionary trajectories. Moreover, we have been actively involved in ecological research on the dynamic changes of soil microbial community in response to climate changes.

We are currently developing novel microbiological techniques that can help manage the bacterial canker disease (Psa) in kiwifruit orchards in New Zealand (funded by Zespri) and mitigate nitrate pollution of water (funded by MBIE Catalyst | Strategic).

Research Opportunities

  • Assessing the effects of copper on biofilm formation by Psa, a pathogenic bacterium of kiwifruit  (28/02/2021) Bacterial biosensors will be developed to measure bioavailable copper concentrations on kiwifruit leaves, and assess the effects of copper on bacterial biofilm formation

Thematics

Resource Development and Management, Health and Well-being, Future Food Systems

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Biogeography and Phylogeography (060302): Biological Sciences (060000): Community Ecology (060202): Ecology (060200): Evolutionary Biology (060300): Evolutionary Impacts of Climate Change (060306): Genetics (060400): Microbial Genetics (060503): Microbiology (060500)

Keywords

Molecular Genetics, Protein/DNA Interactions, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Microbiology, Experimental Evolution, Microbial Ecology

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 4 10

Current Projects

Project Title: Isolating and evolving microbial communities to reduce nitrate contamination of water

Date Range: 2019 - 2022

Funding Body: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Journal

Naren, N., & Zhang, X-X. (2021). Role of a local transcription factor in governing cellular carbon/nitrogen homeostasis in Pseudomonas fluorescens.. Nucleic Acids Res.
[Journal article]Authored by: Naren, N., Zhang, X.
Zhao, W., Zhu, H., Wei, F., Zhou, D., Li, Y., & Zhang, X-X. (2021). Investigating the involvement of cytoskeletal proteins MreB and FtsZ in the origin of legume-rhizobial symbiosis.. Mol Plant Microbe Interact.
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Paulson, AR., O'Callaghan, M., Zhang, XX., Rainey, PB., & Hurst, MRH. (2021). In vivo transcriptome analysis provides insights into host-dependent expression of virulence factors by Yersinia entomophaga MH96, during infection of Galleria mellonella. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 11(1)
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Kang, W., Kang, W., Jiang, Z., Chen, Y., Wu, F., Liu, C., . . . Zhang, XX. (2020). Plant transcriptome analysis reveals specific molecular interactions between alfalfa and its rhizobial symbionts below the species level. BMC Plant Biology. 20(1)
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Kosier, B., & Priefer, UB. (2001). Symbiotic plasmid rearrangement in Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae VF39SM.. J Bacteriol. 183(6), 2141-2144
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Kosier, B., & Priefer, UB. (2001). Genetic diversity of indigenous Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae isolates nodulating two different host plants during soil restoration with alfalfa.. Mol Ecol. 10(9), 2297-2305
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Turner, SL., Guo, XW., Yang, HJ., Debellé, F., Yang, GP., . . . Li, FD. (2000). The common nodulation genes of Astragalus sinicus rhizobia are conserved despite chromosomal diversity.. Appl Environ Microbiol. 66(7), 2988-2995
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Guo, XW., Zhang, XX., Zhang, ZM., & Li, FD. (1999). Characterization of Astragalus sinicus rhizobia by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of chromosomal and nodulation genes regions.. Curr Microbiol. 39(6), 358-0364
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Ritchie, SR., Chang, H., Arnold, DL., Jackson, RW., & Rainey, PB. (2020). Genotypic and phenotypic analyses reveal distinct population structures and ecotypes for sugar beet-associated Pseudomonas in Oxford and Auckland. Ecology and Evolution. 10(12), 5963-5975
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Naren, N., & Zhang, XX. (2020). Global regulatory roles of the histidine-responsive transcriptional repressor HutC in pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Journal of Bacteriology. 202(13)
[Journal article]Authored by: Naren, N., Zhang, X.
Zhan, Y., Deng, Z., Yan, Y., Zhang, H., Lu, C., Yang, Z., . . . Lin, M. (2019). NfiR, a New Regulatory Noncoding RNA (ncRNA), Is Required in Concert with the NfiS ncRNA for Optimal Expression of Nitrogenase Genes in Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 85(14), 1-18
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Yulo, PRJ., Desprat, N., Gerth, ML., Liu, Y., Zhang, XX., Rainey, PB., . . . Hendrickson, HL. (2018). Experimental Evolution of Cell Shape in Bacteria.
[Journal article]Authored by: Hendrickson, H., Zhang, X.
Jiang, Y., Liu, M., Zhang, J., Chen, Y., Chen, X., Chen, L., . . . Sun, B. (2017). Nematode grazing promotes bacterial community dynamics in soil at the aggregate level. ISME Journal. 11(12), 2705-2717
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Liu, Y., Gokhale, CS., Rainey, PB., & Zhang, XX. (2017). Unravelling the complexity and redundancy of carbon catabolic repression in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Molecular Microbiology. 105(4), 589-605
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Gerth, ML., Liu, Y., Jiao, W., Zhang, XX., Baker, EN., Lott, JS., . . . Johnston, JM. (2017). Crystal structure of a bicupin protein HutD involved in histidine utilization in Pseudomonas. Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics. 85(8), 1580-1588
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Liu, S., & Zhang, XX. (2016). Small colony variants are more susceptible to copper-mediated contact killing for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of Medical Microbiology. 65(10), 1143-1151
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Liu, Y., Rainey, PB., & Zhang, XX. (2015). Molecular mechanisms of xylose utilization by Pseudomonas fluorescens: Overlapping genetic responses to xylose, xylulose, ribose and mannitol. Molecular Microbiology. 98(3), 553-570
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Gauntlett, JC., Oldenburg, DG., Cook, GM., & Rainey, PB. (2015). Role of the transporter-like sensor kinase CbrA in histidine uptake and signal transduction. Journal of Bacteriology. 197(17), 2867-2878
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Sun, R., Zhang, XX., Guo, X., Wang, D., & Chu, H. (2015). Bacterial diversity in soils subjected to long-term chemical fertilization can be more stably maintained with the addition of livestock manure than wheat straw. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 88, 9-18
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Liu, Y., Rainey, PB., & Zhang, XX. (2014). Mini-Tn7 vectors for studying post-transcriptional gene expression in Pseudomonas. Journal of microbiological methods. 107, 182-185
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Rainey, PB., Desprat, N., Driscoll, WW., & Zhang, XX. (2014). Microbes are not bound by sociobiology: Response to Kümmerli and Ross-Gillespie (2013). Evolution. 68(11), 3344-3355
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Alsohim, AS., Taylor, TB., Barrett, GA., Gallie, J., Zhang, XX., Altamirano-Junqueira, AE., . . . Jackson, RW. (2014). The biosurfactant viscosin produced by Pseudomonas fluorescensSBW25 aids spreading motility and plant growth promotion. Environmental Microbiology. 16(7), 2267-2281
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Sun, B., Wang, F., Jiang, Y., Li, Y., Dong, Z., Li, Z., . . . Zhang, XX. (2014). A long-term field experiment of soil transplantation demonstrating the role of contemporary geographic separation in shaping soil microbial community structure. Ecology and Evolution. 4(7), 1073-1087
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Ritchie, SR., & Rainey, PB. (2014). Urocanate as a potential signaling molecule for bacterial recognition of eukaryotic hosts. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 71(4), 541-547
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Jackson, RW., Zhang, XX., & Silby, MW. (2013). Identification and Mutational Activation of Niche-Specific Genes Provide Insight into Regulatory Networks and Bacterial Function in Complex Environments. 2, 875-882
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2013). Exploring the sociobiology of pyoverdin-producing pseudomonas. Evolution. 67(11), 3161-3174
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Sun, B., Wang, X., Wang, F., Jiang, Y., & Zhang, XX. (2013). Assessing the relative effects of geographic location and soil type on microbial communities associated with straw decomposition. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 79(11), 3327-3335
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Chang, H., Tran, SL., Gauntlett, JC., Cook, GM., & Rainey, PB. (2012). Variation in transport explains polymorphism of histidine and urocanate utilization in a natural Pseudomonas population. Environmental Microbiology. 14(8), 1941-1951
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Rainey, PB., Beaumont, HJE., Ferguson, GC., Gallie, J., Kost, C., Libby, E., . . . Zhang, XX. (2011). The evolutionary emergence of stochastic phenotype switching in bacteria. Microbial Cell Factories. 10(SUPPL. 1)
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Rainey, PB., Beaumont, HJE., Ferguson, GC., Gallie, J., Kost, C., Libby, E., . . . Zhang, X-X. (2011). The evolutionary emergence of stochastic phenotype switching in bacteria. MICROBIAL CELL FACTORIES. 10,
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Sun, B., Dong, Z-X., Zhang, X-X., Li, Y., Cao, H., & Cui, Z-L. (2011). Rice to Vegetables: Short- Versus Long-Term Impact of Land-Use Change on the Indigenous Soil Microbial Community. Microbial Ecology. , 1-12
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2010). Bet hedging in the underworld. Genome Biology. 11(10)
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Knight, CG., Zhang, XX., Gunn, A., Brenner, T., Jackson, RW., Giddens, SR., . . . Rainey, PB. (2010). Testing temperature-induced proteomic changes in the plant-associated bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(3), 396-402
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Liu, YH., & Rainey, PB. (2010). CbrAB-dependent regulation of pcnB, a poly(A) polymerase gene involved in polyadenylation of RNA in Pseudomonas fluorescens. Environmental Microbiology. 12(6), 1674-1683
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
McDonald, MJ., Gehrig, SM., Meintjes, PL., Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2009). Adaptive divergence in experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens. IV. Genetic constraints guide evolutionary trajectories in a parallel adaptive radiation. Genetics. 183(3), 1041-1053
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Silby, MW., Cerdeño-Tárraga, AM., Vernikos, GS., Giddens, SR., Jackson, RW., Preston, GM., . . . Thomson, NR. (2009). Genomic and genetic analyses of diversity and plant interactions of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Genome Biology. 10(5)
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2008). Regulation of copper homeostasis in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Environmental Microbiology. 10(12), 3284-3294
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2008). Dual involvement of CbrAB and NtrBC in the regulation of histidine utilization in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Genetics. 178(1), 185-195
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Moon, CD., Zhang, XX., Matthijs, S., Schäfer, M., Budzikiewicz, H., & Rainey, PB. (2008). Genomic, genetic and structural analysis of pyoverdine-mediated iron acquisition in the plant growth-promoting bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. BMC Microbiology. 8
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Fukami, T., Beaumont, HJE., Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2007). Immigration history controls diversification in experimental adaptive radiation. Nature. 446(7134), 436-439
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2007). The role of a P1-type ATPase from Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 in copper homeostasis and plant colonization. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 20(5), 581-588
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Giddens, SR., Jackson, RW., Moon, CD., Jacobs, MA., Zhang, XX., Gehrig, SM., . . . Rainey, PB. (2007). Mutational activation of niche-specific genes provides insight into regulatory networks and bacterial function in a complex environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104(46), 18247-18252
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., Scott, K., Meffin, R., & Rainey, PB. (2007). Genetic characterization of psp encoding the DING protein in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. BMC Microbiology. 7
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2007). Construction and validation of a neutrally-marked strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 71(1), 78-81
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Tett, A., Spiers, AJ., Crossman, LC., Ager, D., Ciric, L., Dow, JM., . . . Bailey, MJ. (2007). Sequence-based analysis of pQBR103; A representative of a unique, transfer-proficient mega plasmid resident in the microbial community of sugar beet. ISME Journal. 1(4), 331-340
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., & Rainey, PB. (2007). Genetic analysis of the histidine utilization (hut) genes in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Genetics. 176(4), 2165-2176
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, XX., George, A., Bailey, MJ., & Rainey, PB. (2006). The histidine utilization (hut) genes of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 are active on plant surfaces, but are not required for competitive colonization of sugar beet seedlings. Microbiology. 152(6), 1867-1875
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Zhang, X-X., Lilley, AK., Bailey, MJ., & Rainey, PB. (2004). Functional and phylogenetic analysis of a plant-inducible oligoribonuclease (orn) gene from an indigenous Pseudomonas plasmid.. Microbiology (Reading). 150(Pt 9), 2889-2898
[Journal article]Authored by: Zhang, X.

Book

Moon, CD., Giddens, SR., Zhang, XX., & Jackson, RW. (2008). Molecular Mechanisms Underpinning Colonization of a Plant by Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria. In Plant-Bacteria Interactions: Strategies and Techniques to Promote Plant Growth. (pp. 111 - 128).
[Chapter]Authored by: Zhang, X.

Conference

Preston, G., Spiers, A., Zhang, XX., Jackson, R., Gal, M., Knight, C., . . . Rainey, P.(2002, September). Pseudomonas in the underworld: The secret life of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. PSEUDOMONAS SYRINGAE AND RELATED PATHOGENS: BIOLOGY AND GENETICS. (pp. 347 - 353).
[Conference]Authored by: Zhang, X.
Bailey, MJ., Rainey, PB., Zhang, XX., & Lilley, AK.(2000, August). Population dynamics, gene transfer and gene expression in plasmids, the role of the horizontal gene pool in local adaptation at the plant surface. PHYLLOSPHERE MICROBIOLOGY. (pp. 173 - 191).
[Conference]Authored by: Zhang, X.

Consultancy and Languages

Languages

  • English
    Last used: now
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent
  • Chinese
    Last used: 2000
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

I am coordiating two papers 122.231 (Genes and Gene Expression) and 203.342 (Molecular and cellular Biology), and also invovled in the teaching of 162.214 (Biology of Microorganisms) and 246.302 (Research Themes in Natural Sciences)

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Main Supervisor 1 1
Co-supervisor 4 2

Current Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • Kiran Sreeja Jayan - Doctor of Philosophy
    Investigating the molecular basis of histidine catabolism in a human pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1

Co-supervisor of:

  • Indika Serasinghe Mudiyanselage - Doctor of Philosophy
    Investigation into the development of probiotic starter culture for industrial production of sauerkraut
  • Huei-Yi Lai - Doctor of Philosophy
    Mechanisms of maintaining antibiotic resistance without antibiotic selection
  • Farhad Sadeghpour Golzar - Doctor of Philosophy
    Experimental Evolution Under Predation in Pseudomonas Fluorescens SBW25

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - ~ Naren - Doctor of Philosophy
    Regulation of histidine catabolism in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2020 - Amber Paulson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Temperature- and host-dependent transcriptional responses in the entomopathogenic bacterium, Yersinia entomophaga MH96
  • 2015 - Yunhao Liu - Doctor of Philosophy
    Molecular mechanism of xylose utilization in a plant growth-promoting bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25

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