Research Interests

The research at Dr. Zhang's lab is focused on the microbial communities dwelling in the human body or various environmental elements. We study the composition and dynamics of the microbial communities, with the intention of understanding their roles in human health. We also use cutting-edge techniques to screen the microbial communities for novel enzymes, which may find applications in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Currently, the techniques within the scope of genome mining, bioinformatics, structural biology and synthetic biology are implemented in Dr. Zhang's lab to study:

  1. Antibiotic resistance in human pathogens and domestic animal pathogens. In particular,how are antibiotic resistance genes transferred between the pathogens and their surrounding microbial communities?

  2. The roles of microbiome in their hosts. We try to understand how microbiome contributes to the defense of various pathogens and how microbiome is involved in the metabolism of the hosts.

  3. The enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of pharmaceutically important compounds. We screen the microbial communities to find the enzymes which can catalyze chemical reactions at mild conditions and produce enantiomeric pure chemicals.   

  4. Synthetic microbial communities. The collaboration is set up with other labs to explore the possibilities of constructing the artificial microbial communities which may serve the desired purposes