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Institute for Environmental Genomics

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Institute for Environmental Genomics


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The mission of IEG is to advance scientific research and education in environmental genomics and stimulate bio-economic development in the State of Oklahoma in order to address scientific challenges related to (i) defining gene function, (ii) delineating gene regulatory networks (iii) developing a systems-level understanding of biological systems beyond individual cells, and (iv) creating computational simulations of biological systems. 

Current Research

Three research themes are pursued at IEG:

(i) functional and comparative genomics for understanding gene function, regulation, network and evolution,

(ii) microbial ecology and community genomics for analysis of diversity, composition, structure, function and dynamics of microbial communities related to global change, bioremediation, land use, bioenergy, and agricultural practices using metagenomics approaches, such as functional gene arrays (e.g., GeoChip), high-throughput sequencing, and single cell genomics, and

(iii) development of metagenomic and bioinformatic tools for big data analysis to understand and model ecosystem functioning and stability.

Read more

IEG Highlights

IEG Director

Dr. Jizhong Zhou

Dr. Jizhong Zhou is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor and a Presidential Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and Director for the Institute for Environmental Genomics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; Visiting Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Adjunct Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. His expertise is in molecular biology, microbial genomics, microbial ecology, theoretical ecology and genomic technologies. His laboratory has pioneered the development and use of genomic technologies for environmental studies for which GeoChip won an R&D 100 Award in 2009. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2001. He received an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 2014. He is a former Editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a current Editor for mBio and a Senior Editor for The ISME Journal. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Zhou recipient of an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

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Energy Secretary Moniz announced the names of the nine recipients of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, which recognizes exceptional US scientists and engineers preforming research supporting the Energy Department mission. IEG Director, Jizhong Zhou, was selected as one of nine recipients.

“These mid-career researchers have made significant advances in fundamental science and technology innovation,” Secretary Moniz said. “They will help sustain America’s research and development leadership. I congratulate the winners for their outstanding achievements, thank them for their work on behalf of the Department and the Nation, and look forward to their continued accomplishments.”

Jizhong (Joe) Zhou (University of Oklahoma) - Biological and Environmental Sciences Honored for his outstanding accomplishments in environmental genomics and microbial ecology, including the development of innovative metagenomics technologies for environmental sciences, for groundbreaking discoveries to understand the feedbacks, mechanisms, and fundamental principles of microbial systems in response to environmental change, and for transformative leadership to elucidate microbial ecological networks and to link microbial biodiversity with ecosystem functions.

Congressional Record of Award (pdf)

News and Announcements

March, 2019

Behind the Paper Blog Post at Nature's Ecology and Evolution

A Behind the Paper blog post on the newly published Zhou lab manuscript (Guo et al. 2019. Climate warming accelerates temporal scaling of grassland soil microbial biodiversity. Ecology and Evolution) has been posted at the Nature Ecology and Evolution Community page (link).

Addressing soil microbial responses to global warming: The value of time-series data

Soil microorganisms may amplify the impacts of climate change by releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. But, if we survey these communities at single time-points, we can miss the big picture on their climate change feedbacks. However, obtaining time-series data is challenging with long-term climate change experiments in terms of soil sampling, site management, and personnel turnover.

Read the full blog post here

November, 2018

Highly Cited Researchers 2018: Dr. Zhou & Dr. Van Nostrand

This list recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science

For more information click the link below:

Highly Cited Researchers 2018


New Publications

  1. Shi S, DJ Herman, Z He, J Pett-Ridge, L Wu, J Zhou, and MK Firestone. Plant roots alter microbial functional genes supporting root litter decompositionSoil Biol Biochem. 127:90-99.
  2. Deng Y, D Ning, Y Qin, K Xue, L Wu, Z He, H Yin, Y Liang, V Buzzard, ST Michaletz, and J Zhou. Spatial scaling of forest soil microbial communities across a temperature gradientEnviron Microbiol. Supplemental Information; Supplmental Data: R code R file
  3. Liang J, J Xia , Z Shi, L Jiang, S Ma, X Lu, M Mauritz, SM Natali, E Pegoraro, CR Penton, C Plaza, VG Salmon, G Celis, JR Cole, KT Konstantinidis, JM Tiedje, J Zhou, EAG Schuur, and Y Luo. 2018. Biotic responses buffer warming‐induced soil organic carbon loss in Arctic tundraGlob Change Biol.
  4. Shi Z, Y Lin, KR Wilcox, L Souza, L Jiang, J Jiang, CG Jung, X Xu, M Yuan, X Guo, L Wu, J Zhou, and Y Luo. Successional change in species composition alters climate sensitivity of grassland productivityGlob Change Biol. In press.
  5. Wang M, J Ding , B Sun, J Zhang, KN Wyckoff, H Yue, M Zhao, Y Liang, X Wang, C Wen, J Zhou, and Y Yang. Microbial responses to inorganic nutrient amendment overridden by warming: Consequences on soil carbon stabilityEnviron Microbiol.
  6. Whitman T, R Neurath, A Perera, I Chu‐Jacoby, D Ning, J Zhou, P Nico, J Pett‐Ridge, and M Firestone. Microbial community assembly differs across minerals in a rhizosphere microcosmEnviron Microbiol.
  7. Guo X, J Feng, Z Shi, X Zhou, M Yuan, X Tao, L Hale, T Yuan, J Wang, Y Qin, A Zhou, Y Fu, L Wu, Z He, J Van Nostrand, D Ning, X Liu, Y Luo, J Tiedje, Y Yang, and J Zhou. 2018. Climate warming leads to divergent succession of grassland microbial communitiesNat Clim Change. 8:813-818.