Liang Zhao-Xun


Liang Zhao-Xun

Liang Zhao-Xun
Associate Professor

Office: 02s-57
Telephone: 6316 7866



  • B.S./M.Sc., Department of Chemistry, Lanzhou University, China
  • Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, US

Professional Experience

  • Associate professor, School of Biological Sciences, NTU (02/2012 – present)
  • Assistant professor, School of Biological Sciences, NTU (09/2005-02/2012)
  • Postdoctoral fellow, University of California at Berkeley (02/2002-07/2005)

Research Interest

The research interests of our group lie broadly at the interface of chemistry and biology. Our group is comprised of graduate students and research staff with background in chemistry, microbiology and molecular biology. The two on-going research projects are:
1. Molecular mechanism underlying bacterial pathogenesis and antibiotic resistanceCyclic dinucleotides (e.g. c-di-GMP and c-di-AMP) emerged as prominent messengers in many multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacteria in recent years. Cyclic dinucleotides contribute to bacterial pathogenesis by mediating such important processes as virulence expression, antibiotic resistance and biofilm formation. Accumulating evidence suggest that the cellular level of cyclic dinucleotides is controlled in a spatiotemporal manner by a complex network of enzymes and effector proteins. We conduct biochemical, structural and transcriptomic studies to understand cyclic dinucleotide-mediated mechanisms that underpin bacterial infection and antibiotic resistance. Given the vital role played by the cyclic nucleotides in both acute and chronic bacterial infection, we expect the research to unveil novel proteins and pathways for developing antimicrobial and biofilm-controlling agent.

2. Genomics-guided discovery of microbial natural products. Soil and marine microorganisms produce a wide range of secondary metabolites with spectacular chemical structure and interesting biological activity. Using a genomics-guided approach, we focus on discovering microbial secondary metabolites produced by unusual biosynthetic pathways. After isolating phylogenetically unique soil and marine microbes from the tropic environment of South East Asia, we sequence the genome of the microbes to identify novel biosynthetic enzymes and pathways. We employ molecular biology and genome-editing tools to manipulate the biosynthetic gene clusters to stimulate or trigger the production of targeted secondary metabolites. For microbes that are recalcitrant to genetic manipulation, we use synthetic biology tools to assemble the targeted biosynthetic gene clusters for the production of the secondary metabolite in heterologous hosts. The secondary metabolites produced by original microbial producer or heterologous hosts are produced by fermentation and characterized by chemical tools. Biosynthetic enzymes that catalyze novel chemical transformation are characterized by biochemical assays and structural studies. This research project is expected to yield novel natural products and biosynthetic enzymes that can be potentially exploited as biocatalysts.

We welcome Ph.D. applicants with either chemistry or biology background. Enquiries about Ph.D. study or research assistant positions in our lab can be sent to Dr. Liang directly (