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Institute for Environmental Genomics

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Institute for Environmental Genomics


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

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.  Dr. Zhou was the ESA Fellow in 2018. He was the ASM Environmental Research award winner in 2019. Dr. Zhou was listed as a Highly Cited Researcher for 2018 worldwide. 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.

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Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award recognizes exceptional US scientists and engineers preforming research supporting the Energy Department mission. IEG Director, Jizhong Zhou, was selected as one of nine recipients in 2015.

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

October, 2019

The Institute for Environmental Genomics was awarded the iSENTRY: An Integrated Microfluidics-Enabled System for Phenotypic Detection of Biothreat Agents grant with the Department of Defense in December 2018. The newly funded DARPA project aims to develop a universal platform for the high-throughput, phenotype-based identification of bacterial pathogens in complex environments like soil or water. The IEG lab leads the effort to develop novel techniques for the efficient extraction and maintenance of viability of microbes from environmental samples. The extracted microbial communities are expected to represent the original communities which include unknown and/or unculturable bacteria from complex environments. Combinations of physical and chemical dispersion methods will be optimized and tested with various soil types to harvest viable cells with high recovery rates. Additionally, synthetic media will be designed and generated to maintain the highest viability of these extracted environmental cells.  


Newest Publications

  1. Huang RL, SP McGrath, PR Hirsch, IM Clark, J Storkey, LY Wu, JZ Zhou, and Liang YT. 2019. Plant-microbe networks in soil are weakened by century-long use of inorganic fertilizers. Microbial Biotechnol. DOI: 10.1111/1751-7915.13487
  2. Escalas, A., L. Hale, J. W. Voordeckers, Y. Yang, M. K. Firestone, L. Alvarez-Cohen, and J.-Z. Zhou. 2019. Microbial functional diversity: From concepts to applications. Ecol Evol,
  3. Song, D., X. Chen, M. Xu, R. Hai, A. Zhou, R. Tian, J. D. Van Nostrand, M. L. Kempher, J. Guo, G. Sun, and J.-Z. Zhou. 2019. Evolution of Sphingobium hydrophobicum C1T in Electronic Waste Contaminated River Sediment. Front Microbiol, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.02263.
  4. Yang, S., Q. Zheng, Y. Yang, M. Yuan, X. Ma, N. R. Chiariello, K. M. Docherty, C. B. Field, J. L. M. Gutknecht, B. A. Hungate, A. Niboyet, X. Le Roux, and J.-Z.  Zhou. 2019. Fire affects the taxonomic and functional composition of soil microbial communities, with cascading effects on grassland ecosystem functioning. Glob. Chang. Biol.,
  5. Buzzard, V., S. T. Michaletz, Y. Deng, Z. He, D. Ning, L. Shen, Q. Tu, J. Van Nostrand, J. W. Voordeckers, J. Wang, M. D. Weiser, M. Kaspari, R. B. Waide, J.-Z. Zhou, and B. J. Enquist. Continental scale structuring of forest and soil diversity via functional traits. 2019. Nature Ecol. & Evol. 3:1298-1308.
  6. Hale, L., W. Feng, H. Yin, X. Guo, X. Zhou, R. Bracho, E. Pegoraro, C. R. Penton, L. Wu, J. Cole, K. T. Konstantinidis, Y. Luo, J. M. Tiedje, E. A. G. Schuur, and J.-Z. Zhou. 2019. Tundra microbial community taxa and traits predict decomposition parameters of stable, old soil organic carbon. ISME J.
  7. Ning D, Y Deng, JM Tiedje, and J Zhou. 2019. A general framework for quantitatively assessing ecological stochasticity. Proc Nat Acad Sci.
  8. Day LA, De León KB, Kem pher ML, Zhou J, Wall JD. 2019. Complete genome sequence of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans IC1, a sulfonate-respiring anaerobe. Microbiol Resour Announc 8:e00456-19.
  9. Dai J, Y Liu, S Li u, S Li, N Gao, J Wang, J Zhou and D Qiu. 2019. Differential gene content and gene expression for bacterial evolution and speciation of Shewanella in terms of biosynthesis of heme and heme-requiring proteins. BMC Microbiol. 19:173