X. Zhou

Xuguo “Joe” Zhou
Associate Professor

Professional Profile


My research interests center around investigating and characterizing genetic and physiological adaptations in insects, which enable them to be one of the most successful groups of organisms on Earth.  This fundamental interest has led me to pursue various research topics at several institutions. Multi-disciplinary experiences in biology, toxicology, physiology, biochemistry, sociobiology, molecular biology, and genomics have provided me with unique perspectives and inspired me to understand how insects have coped with various biotic and abiotc challenges during the course of millions of years of evolution. 

My research program at the University of Kentucky is a marriage between basic and applied research with an integrative genomics platform. Overall, my research goal is to integrate molecular biology and “omics” tools with fundamental biological disciplines to address some long-standing biological questions with practical implications. Specifically, the directions of my research program at the University of Kentucky include: 1) digestomics research on wood-feeding Dictyoptera, 2) behavioral genomics study of eusocial termites, and 3) the regulatory and technical challenges of RNAi-based pest management.


Current Lab Members (2013)

I have three graduate students (Tian Yu, Qian Sun, and Li Tian), one postdoctoral researcher (Dr. Huipeng Pan). Two perspective students from Uppsala University, Sweden, serve as temporary laboratory technicians (Dongyan Song and Linghua Xu). One exchange graduate student (Xiaowei Yang) from the China Agricultural University and one visiting scientist (Dr. Youjun Zhang) from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences are also included in my research group. Q Sun, L Tian, T Yu, and DY Song are involved in termite projects including behavioral genomics research and the development of RNAi baiting system for termite control. HP Pan, XW Yang, and LH Xu focus on the ecological risk assessment of RNAi. XR Li, a former laboratory member and currently a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, and DY Song are analyzing the digestome of a wood-feeding cockroach. Zhang, YJ and I coordinate a whitefly project that is currently funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Bioinformatics support is provided by T Yu and DY Song who have bioinformatics expertise from the University of Kentucky and Uppsala University, Sweden, respectively. LH Xu serves as the laboratory manager.

Former Lab Members

  • Dr. Jing Shi, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee.

  • Dr. Xiangrui Li, Assistant Researcher, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science.

  • Dr. Zhen Li, Lecturer, Department of Entomology, China Agriculture University

  • Dr. Hu Li, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Entomology, China Agriculture University

  • Dr. Liang Pei, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, China Agriculture University

Prospective Students

I am looking for self-motivated individuals who are intrinsically interested in science to join our research group. Please note that the availability of Postdoctoral positions is contingent upon funding, and I would like to work with the perspective students who share the similar research interests to develop grant proposals for the postdoctoral fellowship applications. If you are interested in learning more about the research in my laboratory, I encourage you to contact me at xuguozhou@uky.edu


  • Beijing Agricultural College, Beijing, China B.A. 09/1987-07/1991 Entomology
  • China Agricultural University, Beijing, China M.S. 09/1994-07/1997 Entomology
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NE, USA Ph.D. 09/1997-12/2002 Entomology

Positions and Employment

  • 2008-present Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
  • 2006-2008 Senior Biological Scientist, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
  • 2004-2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
  • 2003-2004 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
  • 1997-2002 Research Assistant, Department of Entomology University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA.
  • 1995-1997 
  • Lecturer, Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
  • 1991-1995 Teaching Associate, Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.

Publications, Original and Peer-Reviewed 

Publication summary 

During my career, I have published 53 peer-reviewed articles, 7 refereed abstracts, 7 book chapters, 1 co-edited book, and over 80 conference proceedings and other non-refereed publications. In addition, 2 manuscripts are in revision and 14 others have been submitted.

Peer-Reviewed Publications (The corresponding author is marked with an asterisk “*”)


  • Fu, W, W Xie, Z Zhang, SL Wang, QJ Wu, Y Liu, XM Zhou, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2013. Exploring valid reference genes for quantitative real-time PCR analysis in Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae). International Journal of Biological Sciences [Impact factor: 3.17]. In Press
  • Minter*, LM, T Yu, D A Florin, N Nukmal, G C Brown, X Zhou*. 2013. Molecular identification of sand flies in eastern North America. Journal of Medical Entomology [Impact factor: 1.92]. In Press
  • Zhang, MX, GL Pu, XQ Sun, TT Fang, X Zhou*, QN Cai*. 2013. Xenobiotic metabolism of plant secondary compounds in English grain aphid, Sitobion avenae(F.) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pestbp.2013.05.002 [Impact factor: 2.11]. In Press
  • Yang, NN, W Xie, X Yang, SL Wang, QJ Wu, RM Li, HP Pan, BM Liu, XB Shi, Y Fang, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2013. Transcriptomic and proteomic responses of Sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, to thiamethoxam. PLoS One 8(5): e61820. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061820. [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Sun, Q, KF Haynes, X Zhou*. 2013. Differential undertaking response of a lower termite to congeneric and conspecific corpses. Scientific Reports 3: 1650. [Impact factor: 2.97].
  • Sun, Q, X Zhou*. 2013. Corpse management in social insects. International Journal of Biological Sciences 9: 313-321. [Impact factor: 3.17].
  • Li, H, RF Shao, F Song, X Zhou, QQ Yang, ZH Li, WZ Cai*. 2013. Mitochondrial genomes of two barklice, Psococerastis albimaculata and Longivalvus hyalospilus (Psocoptera: Psocomorpha): contrasting rates in mitochondrial gene rearrangement between major lineages of Psocodea. PLoS One 8(4): e61685. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061685. [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Liu, BM, FM Yan, D Chu, HP Pan, XG Jiao, W Xie, QJ Wu, SL Wang, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2013. Multiple forms of vector manipulation by a plant-infecting virus: Bemisia tabaci and tomato yellow leaf curl virus. Journal of Virology 87(9):4929. doi:10.1128/JVI.03571-12. [Impact factor: 5.08].
  • Li, RM, W Xie, SL Wang, QJ Wu, NN Yang, X Yang, HP Pan, XM Zhou, LY Bai, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang *. 2013. Reference gene selection for qRT-PCR analysis in the sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). PLoS One 8(1): e53006. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053006. [Impact factor: 3.73].


  • Li, H, H Liu, AM Shi, P Štys, X Zhou*, WZ Cai*. 2012. The complete mitochondrial genome of the unique-headed bug Stenopirates jeanneli: a novel gene arrangement among true bugs. PLoS One 7(1): e29419. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0029419. [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Li, H, HY Liu, F Song, AM Shi, X Zhou*, WZ Cai*. 2012. Comparative mitogenomic analysis of the damsel bugs (Hemiptera: Nabidae). PLoS One 7(9): e45925. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045925 [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Tang, BZ, W Dong, P Liang, X Zhou*, XW Gao*. 2012. Ecdysteroid receptor from Plutella xylostella: EcR/USP isoform cloning, ligand-binding properties and temporal expression profiles. BMC Molecular Biology 13: 32 doi:10.1186/1471-2199-13-32 [Impact factor: 2.80].
  • Xie, W, YY Lei, W Fu, ZX Yang, X Zhu, QJ Wu, SL Wang, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2012. Deep sequencing the larval midgut: transcriptome analysis of a Bt resistance diamondback moth Plutella xylostella. International Journal of Biological Sciences 8: 1142-1155. [Impact factor: 3.17].
  • Liu, BM, D Chu, HP Pan, XG Jiao, W Xie, SL Wang, QJ Wu, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2012. Differential effects of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus on the feeding behaviors of Bemisia tabaci biotypes B and Q: epidemiological implications. International Journal of Biological Sciences 8: 697-706. [Impact factor: 3.17].
  • Xie, W, QS Meng, QJ Wu, SL Wang, X Yang, NN Yang, RM Li, XG Jiao, HP Pan, BM Liu, Qi Su, BY Xu, SN Hu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2012. Pyrosequencing theBemisia tabaci transcriptome reveals a highly diverse bacterial community and a robust system for insecticide resistance. PLoS One 7(4): e35181. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035181. [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Xie, W, X Yang, SL Wang, QJ Wu, NN Yang, RM Li, XG Jiao, HP Pan, BM Liu, YT Feng, BY Xu, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2012. Gene expression profiling in the thiamethoxam resistant and susceptible B-biotype sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. Journal of Insect Science 12: 46. [Impact factor: 0.88].
  • Pan, HP, D Chu, WQ Yan, Qi Su, BM Liu, SL Wang, QJ Wu, W Xie, XG Jiao, RM Li, NN Yang, X Yang, BY Xu, JK Brown, X Zhou*, YJ Zhang*. 2012. Rapid spread of tomato yellow leaf curl virus in China is aided differentially by two invasive whiteflies. PLoS One 7(4): e34817. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034817. [Impact factor: 3.73].
  • Liu, N, X Yan, ML Zhang, L Xie, Q Wang, YP Huang, X Zhou, SY Wang, ZH Zhou. 2012. Profiling the metatranscriptome of protistan community inCoptotermes formosanus with emphasis on the lignocellulolytic system. Genomics 99: 246-55. [Impact factor: 3.01].
  • Huang, Q, P Sun, X Zhou*, C Lei*. 2012. Characterization of head transcriptome and analysis of gene expression involved in caste differentiation and aggression in Odontotermes formosanus (Shiraki). PLoS One 7(11): e50383. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0050383 [Impact factor: 3.73].


Federal Competitive Grants

  • Developing a framework for assessing the risks of in planta RNAi on non-target arthropods. Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grant (BRAG), NIFA-USDA. 2011-2014, $500,000. Zhou, X. (PD); Siegfried, B. (Co-PD).
  • RNA interference: a sustainable control alternative for integrated pest management. US-China Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program (SCEP), the Trade and Scientific Exchanges Division (TSED), USDA. Nov. 16th through 30th, 2009; 15-day visit in China hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China (MOA).
  • Soldier-derived semiochemicals in termites - templates for prototype termiticides that act via caste disruption. Arthropod and Nematode Genomics Program, USDA-CSREES-NRI. 2006-2009, $369,000. Scharf, M. (PD); Zhou, X. (Co-PD).

State, University, and Foundation Competitive Grants

  • Transcriptomic dissection of worker-soldier caste transition in the Eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae).The Research Support Grant Program sponsored by the University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research. 2013-2014, $20,000. Zhou, X. (PD).
  • Talk to the dead: chemical communications in corpse management in termites. Research and Development Grant Program, the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSEF-2944-RDE-016). 2013-2014, $30,000. Zhou, X. (PD); Haynes, K. (Co-PD).
  • Integration of double stranded RNA into baiting system- a novel genetic control strategy for termites. Commercialization fund, the Kentucky Commercialization Fund Program, the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (COMMFUND-08-RFP-008). 2009-2011, $102,500. Zhou, X. (PD); Potter M. (Co-PD).
  • Identification and production in transgenic plants of novel lignocellulases from a wood-feeding cockroach, Cryptocercus punctulatus. Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center (KTRDC), University of Kentucky. 2010-2011, $30,000. Zhou ,X. (PD) and Yuan L. (Co-PD).
  • Metatranscriptome sequencing of a wood-feeding cockroach, Cryptocercus punctulatus. Advanced Genetic Technologies Center (AGTC), University of Kentucky. 2010-2011, $5,000. Zhou X. (PD).


  • ENT 770: Topics in insect molecular biology and genomics (1 credit)
  • ENT 770: Cultural Entomology (1 credit)
  • ENT 635: Insect Physiology Laboratory (1 credit)
  • ABT 360: Principles of Genetics (3 credits)