Xi, Zhiyong

Zhiyong Xi
Associate Professor

B.S., 1991, Biopharmaceutics, China Pharmaceutical University, China
Ph.D., 2005, Medical Entomology, University of Kentucky
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2005-2007, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Giltner Hall, 293 Farm Lane, Room 314
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
 Phone: (517) 432-7506


Dengue Fever, and associated dengue hemorrhagic fever, is emerging globally as the most important arboviral disease threatening human populations. Approximately 2.5 billion people are at risk of the disease and each year an estimated 50-100 million cases occur. Moreover, this disease continues to both expand into temperate climates and increase in severity. The virus is transmitted to humans by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. In the U.S., Ae. albopictus is present in 36 states while Ae. aegypti is found in several southern states. Experience elsewhere in the world shows that the disease's occurrence usually follows where the mosquitoes are breeding. At the present time, no treatment or vaccine is available for dengue fever leaving vector control as the primary intervention tool. One such method is population replacement, in which natural mosquito populations would be replaced with modified populations that are unable to transmit the dengue virus. It is in this aspect that the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia has shown great potential to be used as a vehicle for introducing disease-resistance genes into mosquitoes, or to directly reduce the mosquito's ability to transmit the pathogen.

Our long-term goal is to develop Wolbachia-based control strategies to block dengue virus transmission in mosquitoes. Toward this, we will identify factors that enable Wolbachia-based population replacement to succeed in a way that reduced vectorial capacity for dengue viruses. Specifically, we are interested in:

  • The mosquito immune responses to dengue viruses and Wolbachia
  • The potential interactions between dengue viruses and Wolbachia in mosquitoes
  • The molecular mechanism of Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility in mosquitoes
  • The improved Wolbachia-based mosquito population replacement and suppression

Our lab owns a state-of-the-art insectary and BSL-2 facility to work on dengue virus in both mosquito and cell culture. We have strong expertise in the functional genomic assay, including microarray, RNA inteference and mosquito transgenesis. Our lab is also one of the leaders on Wolbachia transfection via embryo microinjection.

Zhiyong Xi’s work with mosquitoes and Wolbachia bacteria was highlighted in MSU President's report. See the video linked here. Dr. Xi and his colleagues are developing strategies that bring us closer than ever to eradicating dengue virus transmission in mosquitoes. http://report.president.msu.edu/360/dengue-fever/

Information for prospective postdocs or graduate students

If you are interested in our research and wish to apply for a postdoc position or pursue a M.S. or Ph.D. in these themes in medical entomology, please contact me.

Funding resources:

Principal Investigator. R01 AI080597 (NIH/NIAID). 2009-2015. Endosymbiont, Arbovirus & Mosquito Interactions and the Disease Control.

Principal Investigator. R21 AI082141 (NIH/NIAID). 2010-2013. Molecular Mechanism of Cytoplasmic Incompatibility in Mosquitoes

Co- Principal Investigator, “Supplemental Vector Intervention Required to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in the South Pacific” (Dr. Stephen L. Dobson, PI; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). 2010-2012.

Co- Principal Investigator, “Modifying mosquito population age structure to eliminate dengue transmission.” (Dr. Scott O’Neill, PI; FNIH/Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health). 2010-2014

Recent publications

Bian, G., Joshi, D., Dong, Y., Lu, P., Zhou, G., Xu, Y., Dimopoulos, G. & Xi, Z. (2013). Wolbachia Invades Anopheles stephensi Populations and Induces Refractoriness to Plasmodium Infection. Science.

Bian, G., Zhou, G., Lu, P. & Xi, Z. (2013). Replacing a Native Wolbachia with a Novel Strain Results in an Increase in Endosymbiont Load and Resistance to Dengue Virus in a Mosquito Vector. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 7 (6): e2250.

Lu, P., Bian, G., Pan, X. & Xi. Z. (2012). Wolbachia Induces Density-dependent Inhibition to Dengue Virus in Mosquito Cells. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 6(7):e1754.

Pan, X., Zhou, G., Wu, J., Bian, G., Lu, P., Raikhel, A. S., & Xi, Z. (2011). Wolbachia induces reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent activation of the Toll pathway to control dengue virus in the mosquito Aedes aegypti. PNAS. doi/10.1073.1116932108

Zou, Z., Souza-Neto, J. A., Xi, Z., Kokoza, V., Shin, S. W., Dimopoulos, G. & Raikhel, A. S. (2011). Transcriptome analysis of Aedes aegypti transgenic mosquitoes with altered immunity. Plos Pathogens. 7(11)?e1002394

Guo, X., Xu, Y., Bian, G., Pike, A., Xie, Y. & Xi, Z. (2010). Response of Mosquito Protein Interaction Network to Dengue Infection. BMC Genomics. 11(1):380

Bian, G., Xu, Y., Lu, P., Xie, Y. & Xi, Z. (2010). The Endosymbiotic Bacterium Wolbachia Induces Resistance to Dengue Virus in Aedes aegypti. Plos Pathogens. 6(4):e1000833

Erickson, S.M., Xi, Z., Mayhew, G.F., Ramirez, J.L., Aliota, M.T., Christensen, B.M. & Dimopoulos G. (2009). Mosquito infection responses to developing filarial worms. PloS Negl Trop Dis. 2009, 3(10):e529.

Xi, Z., Ramirez, J. L. & Dimopoulos G. (2008). The Aedes aegypti Toll pathway controls dengue virus infection. Plos Pathogens. 4(7):e100098

Xi, Z., Gavotte, S. L., Xie, Y. & Dobson, S. L. (2008). Genome-wide analysis of the interaction between the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia and its Drosophila host. BMC Genomics. 9:1

Gomulski, L. M., Dimopoulos, G., Xi, Z., Soares, M. B., Bomaldo, M. F., Malcrida, A. R. & Gasperi, G. (2008). Gene discovery in an invasive tephritid model pest species, the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata. BMC Genomics. 9:243

Garver, S. L., Xi, Z., & Dimopoulos, G. (2008). Immunoglobulin Superfamily Members Play Essential Role in the Mosquito Immune System. Dev. & Comp. Immunol. 32(5):519-31

Waterhouse, R. M., Kriventseva, E., Meister, S., Xi, Z., Alvarez, K. S., Bartholomay, L. C., Barillas-Mury, C., Bian, G., Blandin, S., Christensen, B. M., Dong, Y., Jiang, H., Kanost, M., Koutsos, A. C., Levashina, E. A., Li, J., Ligoxygakis, P., MacCallum, R., Mayhew, G., Mendes, A., Michal K., Osta, M., Paskewitz, S., Shin, S. W., Raikhel, A. S., Kafatos, F. C., Dimopoulos, G., Zdobnov, E. and Christohies G. K. (2007). Evolutionary dynamics of immune-related genes and pathways in disease vector mosquitoes. Science. 316 (5832): 1738-1743.

Nene, V., Wortman, J., Lawson, D., Haas, B., Kodira, C., Tu, Z., Loftus, B., Xi, Z., Megy, K., Grabherr, B., Ren, Q., Zdobnov, E., Lobo, N., Campbell, K., Brown, S., Bonaldo, M., Zhu, J., Sinkins., S., Hogenkamp, D., Amedo, P., Arsenburger, P., Atkinson, P., Bidwell, S., Bidler, J., Birney, E., Bruggner, R., Costas, J., Coy, M., Crabtree, J., Crawford, M., deBruyn, B., DeCaprio, D., Eiglmeier, K., Eisenstadt, E., El-Dorry, H., Gelbart, W., Gomes, S., Hammond, M., Hannick, L., Hogan, J., Holmes, M., Jaffe, D., Kennedy, R., Koo, H., Kravitz, S., S., Kriventseva, E., Kulp, D., LaButti, K., Lee, E., Li, S., Lovin, D., Mao, C., Mauceli, E., Menck, C., Miller, J., Montgomery, P., Mori, A., Nascimento, A., Naveira, H., Nusbaum, C., O'Leary, S., Orvis, J., Pertea, M., Quesneville, H., Reidenbach, K., Rogers, Y., Roth, C., Schneider, J., Schatz, M., Shumway, M., Stanke, M., Stinson E., Tubio, J., VanZee, J., Verjovski-Almeida, S., Werner, D., White, O., Wyder, S., Zeng, Q., Zhao, Q., Zhao, Y., Hill, C., Raikhel, A., Soares, M., Knudson, D., Lee, N., Galagan, J., Salzberg, S., Paulsen, I., Dimopoulos, G., Collins, F., Bruce, B., Fraser-Liggett, C., Severson, D. (2007). Genome Sequence of Aedes aegypti, a major arbovirus vector. Science. 316 (5832): 1718-1723.

Dong, Y., Aguilar, R., Xi, Z., Warr, E., Mongin, E., & Dimopoulos, G. (2006). Anopheles gambiae Immune Responses to Human and Rodent Plasmodium Parasite Species. Plos Pathogens. 2 (6): 1-13

Xi, Z., Khoo, C. & Dobson, S. L. (2006). Interspecific Transfer of Wolbachia into the Mosquito Disease Vecotr Aedes albopictus. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. [Biol.]. 273 (1592): 1317-1322

Xi, Z., Khoo, C. & Dobson, S. L. (2005). Wolbachia Establishment and Invasion in an Aedes aegypti Laboratory Population. Science. 310 (5746): 326-328

Xi, Z., Dean, J. L., Khoo, C. & Dobson, S. L. (2005). Generation of an Artificial Wolbachia Infection in Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) via Embryonic Microinjection. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 35 (8): 903-10

Xi, Z. & Dobson, S. L. (2005). Characterization of Wolbachia Transfection Efficiency using Microinjection of Embryonic Cytoplasm and Embryo Homogenate. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 71 (6): 3199-204


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