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OU Study Shows Effects of Climate Warming in Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem

OU Professor Jizhong Zhou and his team have completed a study on the effects of climate warming on soil microbes in an experiment of a tallgrass prairie ecosystem. They collaborated with researchers from around the world on the first study to demonstrate that climate warming plays an important role in accelerating temporal turnover rates of soil bacterial and fungal communities.

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.

Nov 27th, 2018

2018 Highly Cited Researcher

Highly Cited Researchers 2018: Dr. Jizhong Zhou & Dr. Joy 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


Aug 13, 2018

Nature Climate Change Publication

Publication: Climate warming leads to divergent succession of grassland microbial communities

Accurate climate projections require an understanding of the effects of warming on ecological communities and the underlying mechanisms that drive them. However, little is known about the effects of climate warming on the succession of microbial communities. Here we examined the temporal succession of soil microbes in a long-term climate change experiment at a tall-grass prairie ecosystem. Experimental warming was found to significantly alter the community structure of bacteria and fungi. By determining the time-decay relationships and the paired differences of microbial communities under warming and ambient conditions, experimental warming was shown to lead to increasingly divergent succession of the soil microbial communities, with possibly higher impacts on fungi than bacteria. Variation partition- and null model-based analyses indicate that stochastic processes played larger roles than deterministic ones in explaining microbial community taxonomic and phylogenetic compositions. However, in warmed soils, the relative importance of stochastic processes decreased over time, indicating a potential deterministic environmental filtering elicited by warming. Although successional trajectories of microbial communities are difficult to predict under future climate change scenarios, their composition and structure are projected to be less variable due to warming-driven selection.

OU Press Release: Climate Warming Affects Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem

June 13, 2017

IEG research on permafrost thawing highlighted by DOE's Office of Science

The U.S. DOE's Office of Science highlighted IEG collaborative work on the impacts of permafrost thawing on microorganisms and resultant changes in carbon degradation rates and release of CO2.

Permafrost's deep layers ... [lock] away [degraded] organic matter...for thousands of years. ... [W]arming could cause permafrost to thaw much faster and more extensively than ever before. ... Organic matter in thawed permafrost can decompose rapidly. As bacteria, fungi, and other tiny organisms break down the matter, they release the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. ... Greenhouse gases from the thawed permafrost would lead to more climate change, which then could lead to more permafrost thawing – a self-reinforcing cycle.

"This is the most important tipping point," said Jizhong Zhou, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and professor at the University of Oklahoma.

- Defrosting the World’s Freezer: Thawing Permafrost


May 25, 2017

GeoChip article one of the 5 most cited articles in THE ISME Journal

April, 2017

Dr. Lauren Hale Receives VPR's Award for Exceptional Performance

Dr. Hale, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Zhou lab, was recognized with the VPR's Award for Exceptional Performance by a Post-doctoral Researcher. This award is "given annually to a non-faculty post-doctoral researcher on the Norman or Tulsa Campuses across all disciplines, who is within five years of receiving their terminal degree and who has exhibited exceptional performance in their researchand/or creative activity, broadly defined." (Office of the VPR).

Dr. Hale has 3 first author publications and 9 as co-author. She was a Moderator and Session Organizer for the Microbial Responses to Climate Changes and Predictability of Ecosystem Functioning session at the 2016 Annual Ecological Society of America Meeting. She has been a mentor for graduate research associates in the lab, is a certified Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator and the co-founder of the Association for Women in Science - Oklahoma chapter.


Dr. Zhou Appointed Senior Editor of The ISME Journal

Dr. Zhou was appointed Senior Editor for The ISME Journal.  His appointment will begin Feb. 1, 2017 and will continue for three years.  Dr. Zhou was previously a member of the Editorial Board. 

"The ISME Journal seeks to promote diverse and integrated areas of microbial ecology spanning the breadth of microbial life, including bacteria, archaea, microbial eukaryotes, and viruses."

Dr. Zhou's areas of expertise for the journal are: Metagenomics, Microbiomes, Theoretical ecology, Microbial biogeography, Experimental evolution, Genomic technologies, Soil microbial ecology, Climate change microbial ecology, Subsurface microbial ecology, Microbial ecology in engineered systems, Network microbiology, and Systems microbiology.

May, 2016

Graduate Student Awarded DOE Early Career Development Travel Award

Tao Xu, a PhD student in the lab, was awarded a DOE Early Career Development Travel Award to attend the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology's general meeting in New Orleans, LA (July 24-28).  He will be one of the student speakers at the meeting.


March 22, 2016

IEG Graduate Student Recieves a Robert E. and Mary B. Sturgis Scholarship

Daniel Curtis, a graduate student in the lab, was awarded a Robert E. and Mary B. Sturgis Scholarship.  These scholarships are awarded by Arts and Sciences based on financial need and academic perfomance.


March, 2016

Graduate Students Awarded ASM Travel Grants

Jason Shi and Tao Xu awarded ASM Student Travel Grants to present their research at the ASM Microbe Meeting (June 16–20, 2016, Boston, MA).

Jason Shi, "An improved method for inferring the accurate co-occurrence networks from microbial metagenomes based on Random Matric Theory and machine learning"

Tao Xu, "Cas9 nickase-assisted RNA repression enables stable manipulation of essential genes and combined metabolic engineering in Clostridium cellulolyticum"


Feb 22, 2016

Nature Climate Change Publication

A new publication in Nature Climate Change examines the affect of experimental warming on the active layer microbiome of a tundra soil and found this ecosystem to be highly sensitive to warming.

Publication: Tundra soil carbon is vulnerable to rapid microbial decomposition under climate warming

OU's Press Release: Collaborative Study of Tundra Soil Demonstrates Vulnerability of Ecosystem to Climate Warming

Washington Post Article: These tiny creatures could cause huge trouble in the Arctic

DOE University Research Highlight (2-23-16): University Research

May 21, 2015

Dr. Zhou recipient of an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

Dr. Zhou Recieving Orlando Award

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)


April 2015

IEG member selected for an oral presentation at the 2015 ESA meeting

Maggie Yuan, a graduate student in the lab, was selected to present her research as a Contributed Oral presentation at the 2015 Ecological Society of America's Annual Meeting. 


Mar. 24, 2015

IEG Student awarded a George L. and Cleo Cross Graduate Student Endowed Scholarship

Jason Shi, a PhD candidate at IEG, was awarded a George L. and Cleo Cross Graduate Student Endowed Scholarship. These competitive scholarships are awarded based on merit in teaching or research.

Sept., 2014

Paper Published in Nature Communications

A paper by Zhou lab collaborators was just published in Nature Communications. This research was part of iCARES (International Center for Advanced Environmental Sciences).

Wang et al., 2014. Aridity threshold in controlling ecosystem nitrogen cycling in arid and semi-arid grasslands. Nature Comm. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5799.

Higher aridity and more extreme rainfall events in drylands are predicted due to climate change. Yet, it is unclear how changing precipitation regimes may affect nitrogen (N) cycling, especially in areas with extremely high aridity. Here we investigate soil N isotopic values (δ15N) along a 3,200 km aridity gradient and reveal a hump-shaped relationship between soil δ15N and aridity index (AI) with a threshold at AI=0.32. Variations of foliar δ15N, the abundance of nitrification and denitrification genes, and metabolic quotient along the gradient provide further evidence for the existence of this threshold. Data support the hypothesis that the increase of gaseous N loss is higher than the increase of net plant N accumulation with increasing AI below AI=0.32, while the opposite is favoured above this threshold. Our results highlight the importance of N-cycling microbes in extremely dry areas and suggest different controlling factors of N-cycling on either side of the threshold.


April 10, 2014

Dr. Zhou awarded a George Lynn Cross Research Professorship

Dr. Zhou was awarded a George Lynn Cross Research Professorship by the University of Oklahoma. Awardees of this Professorship have "demonstrated outstanding leadership over a period of years in his or her field of learning or creative activity and have been recognized by peers for distinguished contributions to knowledge or distinguished creative work"


April, 2014

Tao Xu awarded a George L. and Cleo Cross Graduate Scholarship from the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology

Tao Xu, a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, was awarded a George L. and Cleo Cross Graduate Scholarship. This is a merit-based scholarship and recipients are selected based on faculty recommendation and teaching/research achievements.


February, 2014

Zhou lab members receive awards for 2014 ASM meeting

Several members of the Zhou lab received awards or honors from the American Society of Microbiology for research that will be presented at the 113th ASM General Meeting.

Travel Grants

Rong Song, Maggie Yuan, Feifei Liu, and Qichao Tu, graduate students in the lab, were awarded ASM student travel grants for outstanding student posters.

Oral Presentations

Daliang Ning, a postdoc in the lab, was selected for an ASM Young Investigator Oral Abtract Presentation: Effects of Temperature on the Phylogenetic and Functional Structures and the Dynamics of Soil Microbial Communities


February, 2014

Zhou lab publication in PNAS

A new paper out in in PNAS (Zhou et al., 2014. Stochasticity, succession, and environmental perturbations in a fluidic ecosystem. Proceed. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1324044111) examines ecological succession.

One of the goals of ENIGMA is to map genotypes to phenotypes within ecological context. In this study, a novel theoretical framework comprised of four different cases was developed for fluidic and non-fluidic ecosystems to conceptualize the relationships between stochasticity and ecological succession. We show that the succession of groundwater microbial communities in response to nutrient amendment is primarily stochastic, but that the drivers controlling biodiversity and succession are dynamic rather than static. This is the first study to demonstrate the importance and dynamic behavior of stochastic processes in controlling the succession of microbial communities. By identifying the mechanisms controlling microbial community assembly and succession, this study makes a fundamental contribution to the mechanistic understanding essential for a predictive microbial ecology of many systems including microbiomes of natural and managed ecosystems.


February, 2014

IEG 2013 Performance Scholarship Recipients Announced

Aifen Zhou – Two first author articles, multiple tasks with a focus on the ENIGMA project, and training students and visitors

Ye Deng – Two first/co-first author publications, multiple co-author publications, bioinformatics work coordination, and data analysis help

Tao Xu – Two first-author papers published, and tasks with a focus on engineering of Clostridium cellulolyticum using new technologies

Qichao Tu – One first author paper published, three first author papers accepted, multiple co-author papers, and multiple tasks with sequence analysis

Qingyun Yan – Diligently working on multiple projects, with >3000 samples analyzed using MiSeq/GeoChip technologies, and greatly helping others.  

Zhou Lab Publication Acknowledgements

"Geochip-based analysis of microbial communities in alpine meadow soils in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau" (Zhang Y, Z Lu, S Liu, Y Yang, Z He, Z Ren, J Zhou and D Li. 2013. BMC Microbiology, 13:72) designated as a "Highly Accessed" article by BMC Microbiology due to the number of times it has been accessed since published.

As of July 19, 2013, this publication had been accessed 1215 times (almost 100 times per week on average).

"Random Sampling Process Leads to Overestimation of β-Diversity of Microbial Communities" (Zhou JZ, Jiang Y, Deng Y, Shi Z, Zhou BY, Xue K, Wu L, He Z, Yang Y. 2013. Random sampling process leads to overestimation of β-diversity of microbial communities. mBio 4(3):e00324-13. doi:10.1128/mBio.00324-13) was selected as an Editors' Pick by mBio.

Editors' Picks are highlighted on the Journal's website. The Editors indicated that "this work makes a fundamental contribution to those designing and interpreting microbiome research".


May, 2013

IEG Scholarship Winners Announced

IEG scholarships are awarded annually to IEG members for exemplary performance in the previous year.

Recipients for 2012 Performance

Ye Deng – two first/co-first author publications, multiple co-author publications, coordination of bioinformatics work, and assisting others with data analysis help

Qichao Tu – multiple co-author publications, multiple manuscripts ready for submission, and performance of multiple tasks related to sequence analysis

Chongqing Wen – specific IEG service (GeoChip analysis, MiSeq technology development)

Kai Xue – one first author publication, multiple co-author publications, overseeing multiple tasks and projects, and assiting others

Aifen Zhou – one first author publication, multiple co-author publications, overseeing multiple tasks with a focus on the ENIGMA project, and training students and visitors

Recipients for 2011 Performance

Ye Deng – co-first author and multiple co-author publications, assisting others with data analysis

Zhou Shi – excellent performance in both research and courses, involved in multiple tasks

Joy D. Van Nostrand – multiple first-author publications, assisted with editing many manuscripts

Kai Xue – involved in multiple tasks and projects, assisting others

Tong Yuan – specific IEG service (GeoChip analysis)

Aifen Zhou – excellent work focused on the ENIGMA project, training students and visitors  


April, 2013

Zhou lab members receive awards for 2013 ASM meeting

Several members of the Zhou lab received awards or honors from the American Society of Microbiology for research that will be presented at the 112th ASM General Meeting.

Travel Grants

Tao Xu, a graduate student in the lab, was awarded an ASM student travel grant for outstanding student posters.

Oral Presentations

Ye Deng, a research scientist in the lab, was selected for an ASM Young Investigator Oral Abtract Presentation: Microbial network analysis of microbial community succession during uranium bioremediation  


April 24, 2013

Tao Xu winner of the OK EPSCoR State Conference student hybrid poster competition

Tao Xu, a graduate student in the Zhou lab, was the first place winner of the OK EPSCOR State Conference student hybrid poster competition for his project, "Dockerin-Containing Protease Inhibitor Protects Key Cellulosomal Components from Proteolysis in Clostridium Cellulolyticum”.  

Students from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University took the top prizes in a hybrid poster competition held recently during the Oklahoma EPSCoR Annual State Conference in Stillwater. Students who had performed research under the current OK EPSCoR Cellulosic Bioenergy RII Award were qualified to participate in the contest, which consisted of three-minute oral presentations and a formal scientific poster session. Each portion of the hybrid competition was competitively judged by an independent panel of judges. Oklahoma EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education 

Tao receiving EPSCoR award
Tao Xu shown receiving his award from from Dr. Jim Wicksted, OK EPSCoR associate director. (Image from EPSCoR)
April 2013

Three abstracts selected for contributed talks at ESA

Three abstracts submitted by the Zhou lab have been selected for contributed talks at the 2013 Ecological Society of America's Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

He Z, et al., "Ecosystem-specific responses of soil microbial communities to elevated carbon dioxide"

Xue K, et al., "Soil microbial community determines vulnerability of soil carbon exposed to warming in northern permafrost"

Zhou J, et al., "Stochastic assembly leads to alternative communities with distinct functions in a bioreactor microbial community"  


Mar. 20, 2013

Dr. Zhou Appointed to the ASM Committee on Global Engagement

The American Society for Microbiology appointed Dr. Zhou to its Committee on Global Engagement. The Committee on Global Engagement is part of ASM's International Board, whose mission is to "sustain and promote the global activities of the American Society for Microbiology". Dr. Zhou will serve on this committee for three years.  


Jan. 2013

Proposed Special Session accepted for 98th ESA Annual Meeting

Kai Xue, a postdoc at IEG, proposed a special session, "Ecological Theory in Microbial Ecology", for the 98th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. The proposal was accepted and Kai will be organizing this exciting session.

There is an increasing recognition that roles micro-organisms play in ecosystems is important in preserving and enhancing the earth’s lift-supporting systems. However, the mechanistic understandings of microbial-communities are still lacking, especially for their population dynamics, spatial distribution, diversity maintenance mechanisms, and so on. These issues have long been studied in macro-ecology by conceptual and mathematical models, computational simulations and other advanced data analysis methods. It would be interesting to investigate whether the ecological theories obtained based on macro-organisms are universal in microbial-world or not. In this way, we propose to organize a special section in 2013 ESA annual conference by inviting micro-ecologists to discuss the following topics: 1) the effectiveness of ecological theories obtained from macro-ecology in microbial world; 2) the advantages of using microbial community to test ecological theories; 3) the reasons for the possible ineffectiveness of ecological theories obtained from microbial-ecology in macro-ecology; and 4) how these understandings inspire the future studies in both macro- and micro-ecology. This session will help to promoting theory exchanges between macro- and micro-ecology. Conversations between session speakers and attendees will be highly encouraged. Finally, we will conclude a summary report based on discussions in this special session and will share it with ecologists, policy-makers and the public through the ESA website.

More information on the ESA meeting can be found on the ESA website  

June, 2012

Zhou lab members receive awards for 2012 ASM meeting

Several members of the Zhou lab received awards or honors from the American Society of Microbiology for research that will be presented at the 111th ASM General Meeting.

Travel Grants

Yujia Qin and Zhou Shi, graduate students in the lab, were awarded ASM student travel grants for outstanding student posters.

Oral Presentation

Yue Huang, a graduate student in the lab, was selected to present an oral presentation: Genomic Analysis Reveals Correlation Between Functional Diversity and Structural Organization of the Cellulosome


April 8, 2012

Dr. Zhou receives VPR Award

Dr. Zhou was named a recipient of the VPR Award for Outstanding Research Impact for his "outstanding contributions to science, to society, and to OU".  

December 18, 2011

Zhou lab paper published by Nature Climate Change

The Zhou lab's paper, J. Zhou, K. Xue, J. Xie, Y. Deng, L. Wu, X. Cheng, S. Fei, S. Deng, Z. He, J.D. Van Nostrand, and Y. Luo. Microbial mediation of carbon-cycle feedbacks to climate warming. Nat. Clim. Change. was published via Advance Online Publication on Nature Climate Change's website.


August 19, 2011

Dr. Zhou appointed a member of the ASM Committee on Environmental Microbiology

Dr. Zhou has been appointed a member of the American Society for Microbiology's Committee on Environmental Microbiology of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board.

The Public and Scientific Affairs Board was created in 1979 to "encourage the adoption of sound policies affecting science and technology and the discipline of microbiology."

[The Committee on Environmental Microbiology] promotes the adoption of sound science policies involving environmental microbiology by reviewing and analyzing pertinent federal programs. This is achieved by responsive interactions among ASM, the public, Congress and appropriate federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, in communicating the scientific and educational interests of microbiology.


April 18, 2011

IEG Announces 2010 IEG Award Winners

IEG announced winners of the IEG Award for work performed in 2010. Award winners were selected based on multiple criteria including publication, research productivity, IEG service, and difficulty of work.

Graduate Students

Feifei Liu – for his consistent and careful work, the difficulty of his research work and helping other lab members on their projects

Qichao Tu – for the difficulty of his research and assisting others in the lab

Visiting Scholars

Lingfang Gao – for her hard work, excellent research progress and high level of independence

Postdocs/Research Scientists

Ping Zhang – For her excellent lab skills, careful work, focus on publications and willingness to help others

Kai Xue – For taking the lead on several projects, his broad research activity and proposal development

James Voordeckers – For taking the lead on providing new and novel areas of GeoChip probe coverage and helping with writing and reviewing manuscripts

Aifen Zhou – For overseeing and training many students while still making excellent progress with her own research

Ye Deng – For his work on the GeoChip and pure culture data analysis pipelines, helping the lab and visitors with the pipelines, and overseeing much of the computational work in the lab

Joy Van Nostrand – For overseeing students, overall lab supervision and equipment upkeep, assisting visitors and outside scientists with sample analysis and writing and editing of manuscripts  


April, 2011

Zhou lab members receive awards from ASM

Several members of the Zhou lab received awards or honors from the American Society of Microbiology for research that will be presented at the 111th ASM General Meeting.

Travel Grants

Wenbin Liu, a graduate student in the lab, was awarded an ASM student travel grant for outstanding student posters.

Qichao Tu, a graduate student in the lab, was awarded an ASM student travel grant.

Oral Presentations

Feifei Liu, a graduate student in the lab, was selected to present an oral presentation: Microbial Communities Associated with Legume Forb and C3 Grass respond Differently to Elevated CO2 and N Deposition

Ye Deng, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab, was also selected to present an oral presentation: Molecular Ecological Network Analyses

Press Room Highlights

Two abstracts were selected as ones which may be of interest to journalists covering the meeting and will be highlighted in the ASM press room:

Q.Tu, Y.Deng, Z.He, H.Yu, Y.Qin, A.Zhou, J.Xie, Z.Lu, J.Voordeckers, Y.Lee, K.Xue, J.Van Nostrand, C. Hemme, L. Wu, T.C. Hazen, P.Adams, and J.Zhou. GeoChip 4.0: A High Density Functional Gene Array for Microbial Ecology Study

J.D.Van Nostrand, W.Liu, B.Zhou, Z.Wang, A.Wang, J.Zhou. From Wastewater to Hydrogen: Metagenomics-based analysis of microbial community for Electrohydrogenesis 

Aug. 24, 2010

GeoChip used to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

An article just published in Science via Science Express examined changes in the microbial community due the the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Several molecular methods were used, including the Zhou lab GeoChip.

Hazen, T.C., E.A. Dubinsky, T.Z. DeSantis, G.L. Andersen, Y.M. Piceno, N. Singh, J.K. Jansson, A. Probst, S.E. Borglin, J.L. Fortney, W.T. Stringfellow, M. Bill, M.S. Conrad, L.M. Tom, K.L. Chavarria, T.R. Alusi, R. Lamendella, D.C. Joyner, C. Spier, J. Baelum, M. Auer, M.L. Zemla, R. Chakraborty, E.L. Sonnenthal, P. D’haeseleer, H.N. Holman, S. Osman, Z. Lu, J.D. Van Nostrand, Y. Deng, J. Zhou, O.U. Mason. 2010. Deep-sea oil plume enriches indigenous oil-degrading bacteria. Science. DOI:10.1126/science.1195979

The biological effects and expected fate of the vast amount of oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon blowout are unknown due to the depth and magnitude of this event. Here, we report that the dispersed hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-sea indigenous {gamma}-proteobacteria that are closely related to known petroleum-degraders. Hydrocarbon-degrading genes coincided with the concentration of various oil contaminants. Changes in hydrocarbon composition with distance from the source and incubation experiments with environmental isolates demonstrate faster-than-expected hydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5°C. Based on these results, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation of the oil plume in the deep-water column without substantial oxygen drawdown.

Full article  


June, 2010

Dr. Zhou to attend the HIT 90th Anniversary Celebration in Harbin, China

The Harbin Institute for Technology will be celebrating their 90th Anniversary on June 4-7, 2010

"Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) was founded in 1920. From its beginning, HIT has received preferential support from the government. In 1950s, HIT was one of the two university representative models studying from the education system of Russia. In 1954, the Ministry of Higher Education designated, for the first time, six national key universities HIT was the only one of the six outside of Beijing. In 1984, HIT again found its way onto the list of 15 national key universities to receive special support. In 1996, HIT was in the first batch of universities to be included in Project 211. This project targets at 100 institutions of higher education in China to receive preferential support for development in becoming world-class universities in the 21st century. In 1999, HIT was listed as one of the top nine key universities in China. This distinction provided HIT with the opportunity to develop into a world-class, first-rate competitive university."

Dr. Zhou will participate in the University Day events on June 5th as a representative of the University of Oklahoma and promote OU programs in China.  


March, 2010

Institute for Environmental Genomics awarded a 2010 Innovator of the Year award

Over the past 13 years, The Journal Record has presented Innovator of the Year awards to "top-notch business innovation in Oklahoma" annually. The Institute for Environmental Genomics is one of 34 Oklahoma organizations honored with this award for 2010 .

"“The Journal Record’s Innovator of the Year program has honored the spirit of Oklahoma ingenuity for more than a decade. This program allows us to recognize businesses, organizations and individuals who embrace both the entrepreneurialism and innovation that make Oklahoma such a special place to live and work,” said Mary Mélon, publisher of The Journal Record. “Our honorees over the years have developed products and services that have grown our communities and have literally put us on the map – both nationally and internationally.”

The Journal Record article

An awards banquet will be held to honor winning organizations in Oklahoma City on April 13, 2010.  


February, 2010

Dr. Zhou now an Editor for mBio

ASM's new journal, mBio, has named its Board of Editors, which includes Dr. Jizhong Zhou among other notable microbiologists.

"[mBio will be] ASM’s first broad-scope, online-only, open access journal, [and] will offer rapid review and publication of the best research in microbiology and allied fields. The new journal will continue ASM’s non-profit publishing mission and will be edited by scientists involved in active research.
The scope of mBio™ will reflect the enormity of the microbial world, a highly interconnected biosphere where microbes interact with living and non-living matter to produce outcomes that range from symbiosis to pathogenesis, energy acquisition and conversion, climate change, geologic change, food and drug production, and even animal behavioral change. We will encourage authors to explain how their findings fit into the larger picture."


November, 2009

OU GeoChip Wins a 2009 R&D100 Award

R&D100 Award for GeoChip

Drs. Jizhong Zhou, Zhili He, Liyou Wu, Joy Van Nostrand, and Ye Deng of the Institute for Environmental Genomics and the Department of Botany and Microbiology travelled to Orlando, Fl on November 12th to be presented with a 2009 R&D100 Award for their development of the GeoChip.

GeoChip Developers receive R&D100 Award
November 7, 2009

Dr. Jizhong Zhou Awarded an Outstanding Asian American 2009

IEG-Outstanding Asian American Award Zhou

Dr. Zhou was presented with an Award for Excellence as the Outstanding Asian American 2009 by the Asia Society of Oklahoma on November 7th. He was selected for this award for his outstanding contribution to science and for his inspiration to and support of fellow Asian citizens.  


October, 2009

Dr. Zhou Invited to the People's Republic of China's 60th Anniversary Celebration

Dr. Jizhong Zhou, along with approximately 300 other scientists and engineers from around the world, was honored with an invitation from the Chinese government to participate in the People's Republic of China’s 60th Anniversary Celebration in Beijing, China on October 1st. Dr. Zhou was invited because of his reputation as a world-renowned scientist and pioneer in the field of molecular biology and functional genomics.

From September 29 to October 2, 2009, Dr. Zhou and his wife, Cindy Shi, attended the 60th Anniversary Celebration Events of the People's Republic of China as special guests. About half of the delegates were Chinese scientists and engineers from overseas. The participants included Dr. Daozhong Ting from MIT, a noble prize winner in physics and Dr. Chentong Qiu from Harvard.

In September 30, 2009, Chinese President Jintao Hu, Premier Jiabao Wen, and other key Chinese government leaders received the delegates in the People’s Great Hall, Beijing. President Hu and other leaders shook hands with the guests and took a picture together. President Hu gave a key note speech during which he praised the scientists and engineers for their great contribution to scientific research and technology development.

On October 1, all the special guests went to Tiananmen Square and sat on the stage right by the Tiananmen gate. They watched the entire celebration program and then attended the evening gala. "They were lovely, gigantically, magnificently, marvelously great events and achievements," said Dr. Zhou. Spirits remained high after the 2.5-hour parade ended during and again soared for the evening gala, which featured 60,000 people dancing and performing in Tiananmen Square. One highlight on a day full of incredible moments came near the end of the evening gala- the event capping a day of excitement and pride - when President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders offered a rare glimpse of their dancing steps and singing voices as they danced hand-in-hand with gala performers.

China typically holds grand celebrations every 10 years but this year's festivities top those staged in the past -- and outdid last year's Olympic opening ceremony, because the 60th anniversary carries special cultural significance. Chinese consider six to be an auspicious number because it sounds like the word for “to stay”, with its positive connotations of endurance and perseverance. Sixty years also marks a full cycle of life in the Chinese zodiac.  


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Technology Earns Spot in National Research Magazine

Jared Rader/The Daily

OU Stephenson Research and Technology Center researchers recently earned a spot in the 2009 R&D 100 for the GeoChip, a new technology that is capable of quickly and cheaply identifying functioning microorganisms in a scientific sample.

“This is the highest honor for technology development,” said Jizhong Zhou, principal researcher and Presidential Professor of the OU Department of Botany and Microbiology.

R&D Magazine announced the GeoChip’s selection as one of the R&D 100 in an article dated Aug. 6. The magazine produces the list to honor the top 100 technological achievements of each year.

“We are the pioneer in the world in this technology,” Zhou said. “Nobody else has it. We are the only group.”

Joy D. Van Nostrand, a researcher on the project and a post-doctoral research associate said that, at a glance, the GeoChip looks like a regular glass microscope slide. However, a chemical is added to attach thousands of genetic probes to the slide’s surface that can recognize the genes of more than 50,000 microorganisms at once, Van Nostrand said.

The GeoChip makes it easier to quickly recognize what genes are functioning in samples of soil, water and other substances.

Van Nostrand said the GeoChip is especially useful for identifying microorganisms in contaminated environments such as soil or water. Once the GeoChip knows exactly what the contaminants are, scientists can decide how to fix the contamination.

The GeoChip can also be used to test microbial samples in the air as well as human and animal bodies, according to the award application provided by Van Nostrand.

Zhou said before the GeoChip’s development, the process of testing for individual genes was painstaking because scientists often do not know what they are initially looking for.

“They used to identify organisms one-by-one, gene-by-gene,” Zhou said. “Now you can do this simultaneously, so it is much cheaper, much quicker and you can gain information which you could not before.”

Researchers from around the world send scientific samples to the Stephenson Research Center to be analyzed by the GeoChip, Van Nostrand said.

Zhou said he has worked with more than 50 researchers from different universities over the past 10 years to create the GeoChip, with funding from three sources: the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

The current GeoChip is the fourth model of the device.

“This is a continuous process,” Zhou said. “Every two years we will have a new generation of the GeoChip.”

There has been talk of creating specialized GeoChips for specific functions, such as detecting things that cause disease, Van Nostrand said.


University of Oklahoma GeoChip selected for 2009 R&D Award

Norman, Okla.—A technology developed by University of Oklahoma researchers—the GeoChip—is one of the top 100 most outstanding technology developments of 2009, editors of R&D Magazine announced today.

GeoChip, which is a revolutionary high throughput technology for geochemical, ecological and environmental sciences, was created by Jizhong Zhou, Presidential Professor in OU’s Department of Botany and Microbiology, with project team members Zhili He, Liyou Wu, Joy D. Van Nostrand, and Ye Deng.

Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have indentified revolutionary technologies with promising commercial potential that have been newly introduced to the market, many of which have become household names. Some of these include the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the printer (1986), the Kodak Photo CD (1991), the Nicoderm antismoking patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drug (1993), and HDTV (1998), just to name a few.

“The R&D 100 Awards honor the latest technology developments that are designed to meet societal, scientific, or business challenges facing us today—and tomorrow,” according to Rita Peters, editorial director for R&D Magazine.

The winning of an R&D 100 Award provides a mark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the most innovative ideas of the year. This helps provide an important initial push a new product needs to compete successfully in the marketplace.

Winners of the R&D 100 Awards are selected by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine. The publication and its online portal serve research scientists, engineers, and other technical staff members at high tech industrial companies and public and private laboratories around the world.

Zhou and his team members will be among the winners recognized at the 47th Annual R&D Awards Banquet on Nov. 12, 2009, in Orlando, Florida. A full list of winners is available at

The development of GeoChip was supported by The United States Department of Energy under the Environmental Remediation Science Program and Genomics: GTL program through the Virtual Institute of Microbial Stress and Survival (VIMSS;, the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Office of Science, as well as by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through NSF-USDA Microbial Observatories Program, and by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology under Oklahoma Applied Research Support Program.


Dr. Zhou's 1996 paper listed as one of the 20 Most-Frequently Cited Articles in Appl. Environ. Microbiol. as of March 1, 2009

J Zhou, MA Bruns, JM Tiedje. DNA recovery from soils of diverse composition. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. Feb 01, 1996; 62: 316-322.  


Dr. Jizhong "Joe" Zhou Named 2008 AAAS Fellow

University of Oklahoma Researcher Named 2008 AAAS Fellow

Jana Smith
Phone: (405) 325-1322

Norman, OK—Jizhong Zhou, University of Oklahoma, has been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow for contributions to the field of microbial genomics and ecology, particularly for pioneering advances in developing genomic technologies for environmental technologies.

Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Zhou is a presidential professor in the Department of Botany and Microbiology and director of the Institute for Environmental Genomics.

Zhou has distinguished himself as an international leader in four areas of environmental microbiology: (1) environmental genomics, (2) functional genomics, (3) microbial ecology and community dynamics and (4) microbial detection and identification.

Zhou and a group of colleagues are credited with development of GeoChip, a novel genomics-based tool that can detect functional genes and processes within a microbial community with many applications. This is the first comprehensive gene chip for studying biogeochemical, ecological and environmental processes.

GeoChip was successfully tested in a bioremediation field study where it was used to monitor a microbial community as it reduced uranium levels in contaminated groundwater. Bioremediation is only one of the many possible applications of GeoChip.

It has been applied to a variety of systems and has the potential to impact a diversity of areas affected by micro-organisms, including human health, agriculture, global climate change, environmental cleanup and restoration.

AAAS awarded this honor to 486 members because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be honored on Saturday, February 14 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2009 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

The AAAS Council makes the final selection of New Fellows. The Council is chaired by the president and consists of members of the board of directors, retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and regional division and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.