Xin Wang

Assistant Professor of Microbiology

Office: 50 Pearson Hall
Phone: (513) 529-5427


Ph.D., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013

Research Interests

Cyanobacteria physiology and Synthetic biology

Photosynthesis improvement is a key strategy to meet the growing demand of food production in the next few decades. A variety of bottlenecks in photosynthesis have been identified and targeted for enhancing photosynthetic performance in plants. The Calvin cycle is highly efficient in energy utilization for C fixation reactions but under constant environmental perturbations. We aim to employ both traditional genetic/biochemical methods and evolution tools to seek photosynthesis optimization strategies in cyanobacteria. The inferred technology can be transferred to plants for improved crop production. 

One of environmental factors we are interested in is light. Cyanobacteria drastically change their carbon metabolism under daily light-dark cycles. Carbon fixed during the day is partially stored as glycogen to support cellular respiration in the dark. Cellular respiration contributes largely to the survival of cyanobacteria in the dark, and the smooth dark-to-light transition. Recent studies in the field highlighted the genetic background important for the fitness of cyanobacterial during diel growth. Expanding from this research, we found that the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus can leverage cellular respiration to support the CBB cycle during dark-light transition. It is likely that this strategy has empowered cyanobacteria and green plants with evolutionary advantages to stabilize photosynthetic reactions. We are working to dissect the metabolic engagement during dark-to-light transition and under other fluctuating light conditions in cyanobacteria. The ultimate goal is to design synthetic pathways to stabilize photosynthesis, and maximize the photosynthetic performance in cyanobacteria/plants.

Selected publications

  • Wang B, Xu Y, Wang X, Yuan J, Johnson C, Young J, Yu J. (2021) A guanidine-degrading enzyme controls genomic stability of ethylene-producing cyanobacteria. Nat. Commun. 12: 5150. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25369-x.
  • Zhang A, Mernitz KA, Wu C, Xiong W, He Y, Wang G, Wang X. (2021) ATP drives efficient terpene biosynthesis in marine thraustochytrids. mBio DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00881-21.
  • Kalra I, Wang X, Cvetkovska M, Jeong J, McHargue W, Zhang R, Hüner NP, Yuan JS, Morgan-Kiss RM. (2020) Chlamydomonas sp. UWO 241 exhibits high cyclic electron flow and rewired metabolism under high salinity. Plant Phys. 183(2): 588-601. DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.01280.
  • Shinde S, Zhang X, Singapuri SP, Kalra I, Liu X, Morgan-Kiss RM, Wang X. (2020) Glycogen metabolism supports photosynthesis start through the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway in cyanobacteria. Plant Phys. 182: 507-517.  DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.01184.
  • Wu C, Jiang H, Kalra I, Wang X, Cano M, Maness P, Yu J, Xiong W. (2020) A generalized computational framework to streamline thermodynamics and kinetics analysis of metabolic pathways. Metab. Eng. 57: 140-150. DOI: 10.1016/j.ymben.2019.08.006.
  • Jones JA, Wang X. (2018) Use of bacterial co-cultures for the efficient production of chemicals. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 53:33-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.ymben.2019.08.006.
  • Wang X, Liu W, Xin C, Zheng Y, Cheng Y, Sun S, Li R, Zhu XG, Dai SY, Rentzepis PM, and Yuan JS. 2016. Enhanced limonene production in cyanobacteria reveals photosynthesis limitations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113(50): 14225.
  • Wang X, Ort DR, and Yuan JS. 2015. Photosynthetic terpene hydrocarbon production for fuels and chemicals. Plant Biotechnol. J. 13(2): 137.