Dr Wei Xu
PhD

Lecturer in Entomology, ARC DECRA Fellow

About me

I am an insect biologist.  My research focuses are on insect chemical ecology, insect molecular biology, biochemistry and functional genomics to improve our understanding of insect behaviors, insect-host interaction and evolution.

I received my PhD in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in June, 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Walter Leal, a leading authority in insect chemical ecology. My research project was “Olfactory (Smell) proteins in moths and mosquitoes”. I came to Australia with an OCE (Office of the Chief Executive) Postdoctoral Fellowship and joined CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (CES). My study focus is the molecular mechanisms of insect chemosensory systems and their functions in insect-host interaction and co-evolution. I joined Murdoch University in January 2015 as a lecturer in Entomology in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

Teaching area

Entomology, Insect Chemical Ecology, functional genomics and Insect Molecular Biology.

  1. BIO257, Australia Biodiversity (Invertebrate Module)
  2. ANS208 Crop Protection and Plant Biosecurity (Insect and Insect Management Modules)
  3. Visiting Plant Protection Student Study Program (Coordinator)

 

Research areas

Insects, one of the most important groups of organisms, live in a world of chemistry. They rely upon smell (the olfactory system) to detect mates, food and oviposition sites. They rely upon taste (the gustatory system) to evaluate which foods to feed on and which foods to avoid. My research is focused on insect olfactory and taste systems at the molecular level. I will also dissect how these insects have fine-tuned their chemical sensory systems to sense their environment and regulate their behaviours. Understanding the molecular basis of these mechanisms will provide a vital tool for assessing crucial natural interactions of hosts and insects, as well as allowing us to develop new strategies for insect control through disruption of chemosensory mechanisms.

Current projects

1. PBCRC3149-Molecular basis of insect response to (sub)lethal stresses

2. DE160100382–Odorant recognition in insect olfactory system to control insect behaviour

 

Awards and grants

  • 2016-2018 ARC DECRA DE160100382–Odorant recognition in insect olfactory system to control insect behaviour ($372,000)
  • 2015-2017 PBCRC 3149 Molecular basis of response to (sub)lethal stresses ($692,978)
  • 2016 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE) Australia Runner-up Prize (only one champion and two runner-ups every year).
  • 2015 FASIC Program Early Career Fellowships ($7,000)
  • 2011-2012 CSIRO Acorn Grant ($25,000)
  • 2010-2013 CSIRO OCE (Office of the Chief Executive) postdoctoral fellowship.
  • 28th international society of chemical ecology annual conference travel award, 2012.
  • 6th Asia-Pacific association of chemical ecology conference organization award, 2011.
  • 8th Chinese national chemical ecology conference paper competition, 1st Place, 2010.
  • 56th ESA annual meeting president’s award, 2008.

Events and speaking engagements

  1. Xu W. Molecular basis of Fruit fly response to (sub)lethal stresses. The 1st Australia-China Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation (ACCSTI2017) in Perth, WA, Feb. 2-6, 2017.
  2. Xu W. Molecular basis of Fruit fly response to (sub)lethal stresses. 2016 PBCRC Scientific Exchange Program, Creswick, Victoria, Australia, Oct. 25-39, 2016.
  3. Xu W. Expansion of a taste receptor family in a polyphagous insect herbivore. 2016 International Congress of Entomology (ICE) in Orlando, Florida, USA. Sep. 25-Oct. 1, 2016.
  4. Xu W. Molecular basis of response to postharvest treatment stresses. 2016 TAAO Symposium, Putrajay, Malaysia, Aug. 15-18, 2016.
  5. Xu W. Expansion of a taste receptor family in a polyphagous insect herbivore. The 16th Australasian Association for ChemoSensory Science (AACSS) conference, Canberra, Australia. Dec. 2-4, 2015.
  6. Xu W. Chemosensory genes from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. International Chemical Ecology Conference (ICEC), Melbourne, Australia. Aug. 19-23, 2013.
  7. Xu W. Chemosensory genes from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The 14th AACSS conference, Melbourne, Australia. Aug. 16-18, 2013.
  8. Xu W., Zhang H. and Anderson A. A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigeraThe 28th International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) annual conference. Vilnius, Lithuania, Jul. 22-26, 2012.
  9. Xu W., Zhang H. and Anderson A. A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. XVI International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT) conference. Stockholm, Sweden. Jun. 23-27, 2012.
  10. Xu W., Papanicolaou A. and Anderson A. Olfactory receptors from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The 13th AACSS conference. Matakana, New Zealand. Dec. 7-9, 2011.
  11. Xu W. and Leal W. Navel Orangeworm Moth (Amyleois transitella) Pheromone-Binding Protein 1 (AtraPBP1). The 6th Asia-Pacific Association of Chemical Ecologists (APACE) conference. Beijing, China. Oct. 11-15, 2011.
  12. Xu W. and Leal W. Odorant Binding Proteins from Malaria Mosquito Anopheles funestus. The 8th Chinese National Chemical Ecology conference, Shanghai, China. Oct. 9-12, 2010.
  13. Xu W. and Leal W. Study on Aedes Aegypti odorant binding protein-1. The 92th ESA Pacific Branch annual meeting, Boise, ID, USA. Apr. 10-13, 2010.
  14. Xu W. and Leal W. The localization of Culex quinquefasciatus odorant binding protein-1 (CquiOBP1). The 56th ESA annual meeting, Reno, NV, USA. Nov. 16-19, 2008.
  15. Xu W. and Leal W. Study on odorant binding proteins from malaria mosquito Anopheles funestus. The 91th ESA Pacific Branch annual meeting, Napa, CA, USA. Apr. 1-3, 2008.
  16. Xu W. and Leal W. Molecular Switch for pheromone release from Bombyx mori pheromone-binding protein. The 90th ESA Pacific Branch annual meeting, Portland, OR, USA. Mar. 25-28, 2007.
  17. Xu W. and Leal W. Molecular switch at the C-terminus of BmorPBP. The 54th ESA annual meeting, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Dec. 10-13, 2006.
  18. Xu W. and Leal W. Proteins make sense in Culex quinquefasciatus. The 53th ESA annual meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA. Dec. 15-18, 2005

Professional and community service

  • Convener for “Functional Genomics and Transgenesis” section of the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) 2016 in Orlando, Florida, USA.
  • Scientist in School program in Harrison School, Canberra, ACT, 2012-2013.
  • Symposium “Chemical ecology meets evolutionary and molecular biology” co-organizer, 28th ISCE annual conference. Vilnius, Lithuania, July 22-26, 2012.
  • Symposium “Olfaction and receptors” co-organizer, 6th APACE conference. Beijing, China. Oct. 13th, 2011.
  • 2008 Pacific Branch ESA Annual Conference Moderator

Doctoral and masters supervisions

You should list the students you are supervising or have supervised and the topic areas covered here.

Ph.D. Students

Naiyong Liu (2012-2014) (Co-supervisor)

Basman Al-Jalely (2015-

Farhan Al-Behadili  (2016-

Thamer Al-Shuwaili (2016- (Co-supervisor)

Annirudha Agnihotri (2017-

 

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kay Anantanawat (2015- 2017)

Antonios Augustinos (2016-2017)

 

Technical Officer

Vineeta Bilgi (2016-2017)

 

Honours Student

Andrew Phillips (2016-2017 )

Publications

  1. Gouin A., Bretaudeau A., et al. Two genomes of highly polyphagous lepidopteran pests (Spodoptera frugiperda, Noctuidae) with different host-plant ranges. Scientific Reports, 2017 (IF 4.259, 1 citation). DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-10461-4
  2. Pearce S., Clarke D., East P. et al.  Genomic innovations, transcriptional plasticity and gene loss underlying the evolution and divergence of two highly polyphagous and invasive Helicoverpa pest species. BMC Biology, 2017 (IF 6.779, 2 citations).  DOI:10.1186/s12915-017-0402-6
  3. Liao Y, Weber D, Xu W, Durbin-Johnson BP, Phinney BS, Lönnerdal B. Absolute quantification of human milk caseins and the whey/casein ratio during the first year of lactation. Journal Proteome Research 2017 (IF 4.268). DOI:10.1021/acs.jproteome.7b00486
  4. Xu W and Liao Y.. Identification and characterization of aldehyde oxidases (AOXs) in the cotton bollworm. The Science of Nature, 2017; 102 (3-4): 1-9. (IF: 2.098, 1st and Corresponding author). DOI:10.1007/s00114-017-1515-z
  5. Xu W., Liu N., Liao Y. and Anderson A.. Molecular Characterization of Sugar Taste Receptors in Cotton Bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. Genome, 2017 (IF 1.424, 1st and Corresponding author, selected as 2017 editor’s choice for permanent Open Access). DOI:10.1139/gen-2017-0086
  6. Stevenson B., Cai L., Faucher C., Michie M., Berna A., Ren Y., Anderson A. and Xu W.. Walking Responses of Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) to Its Aggregation Pheromone and Odors of Wheat Infestations. Journal of Economic Entomology 2017; 1-8 (IF 1.824, corresponding author). DOI:10.1093/jee/tox051
  7. Xu W., Papanicolaou A., Zhang H. and Anderson A. Expansion of a taste receptor family in a polyphagous insect herbivore. Scientific Reports 2016 (IF 4.259, 11 citations). DOI:10.1038/srep23666
  8. Xu W. and Anderson A. Carbon dioxide receptor genes in cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The Science of Nature, 2015; 102 (3-4): 1-9. (IF: 2.098, 2 citations). DOI:10.1007/s00114-015-1260-0
  9. Liu N., Yang K., Xu W., et al. Two general-odorant binding proteins in Spodoptera litura are differentially tuned to sex pheromones and plant odorants. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A, 2015; 180:23-31. ( IF: 2.371, 19 citations). DOI:10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.11.00
  10. Xu W., Papanicolaou A., Liu N., and Anderson A.. Chemosensory receptor genes in oriental tobacco budworm Helicoverpa assulta. Insect Molecular Biology, 2014; 24 (2): 253-263. (IF: 2.844, 13 citations). DOI:10.1111/imb.12153
  11. Liu N., Yang F., He P., Yang K., Niu X., Xu W., et al. Two subclasses of odorant‐binding proteins in Spodoptera exigua display structural conservation and functional divergence.  Insect Molecular Biology, 2014; 24 (2): 167-182. (IF: 2.844, 18 citations). DOI:10.1111/imb.12143
  12. Liu N., Xu W., et al., Identification and characterization of three chemosensory receptor families in cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. BMC Genomics, 2014; 15:597. (Co-first author, IF: 3.729, 28 citations). DOI:10.1186/1471-2164-15-597
  13. Xu W., Zhang H. and Anderson A. A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 2012; 38(12):1513-20. (IF: 3.151, 19 citations). DOI:10.1007/s10886-012-0221-8
  14. Xu W., Xu X., et al. Extrusion of the C-terminal helix in navel orangeworm moth pheromone-binding protein (AtraPBP1) controls pheromone binding. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2011; 404(1):335-8. (IF: 2.297, 18 citations). DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.11.119
  15. Mao Y., Xu X., Xu W. et al. Crystal and solution structures of an odorant-binding protein from the southern house mosquito complexed with an oviposition pheromone. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010; 107(44):19102-7. (IF: 9.661, 65 citations). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1012274107
  16. Xu W., Cornel A. and Leal W. Odorant binding proteins of the malaria mosquito Anopheles funestus sensu stricto. PLoS One 5 (10), e15403, 2010. (IF: 2.806, 28 citations). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0015403
  17. Xu X., Xu W., et al. NMR Structure of Navel Orangeworm Moth Pheromone Binding Protein: Implications for pH-Sensitive Pheromone Detection. Biochemistry, 2010, 49(7): 1469-76 (IF: 2.938, 21 citations). DOI:10.1021/bi9020132
  18. Xu W. The progress of mosquito olfaction study. Chinese J. Envir. Ent., 2009, 2:175-180. (Invited Review, 5 citations).
  19. Leite N., Krogh R., Xu W., et al. A pH-sensitive “lid” covers the binding pocket of an odorant-binding protein from the yellow fever mosquito. PLoS One, 2009 4(11):e8006. (IF: 2.806, 57 citations). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0008006
  20. Leal W., Ishida Y., Pelletier J., Xu W., et al. Olfactory proteins mediating chemical communication in the Navel orangeworm Moth, Amyelois transitella. PLoS One, 2009, 30; 4(9):e7235. (IF: 2.806, 30 citations). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0007235
  21. Xu X., Xu W., et al. 1H, 15N, and 13C chemical shift assignments of the mosquito odorant binding protein-1 (CquiOBP1) bound to the mosquito oviposition pheromone. Biomolecular NMR Assignments., 2009, 3(2):195-197. (4 citations). DOI:10.1007/s12104-009-9173-5
  22. Xu W. and Leal W. Molecular Switch of Pheromone Binding Protein from Bombyx mori. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2008, 372, 559-564. (IF: 2.297, 22 citations). DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.05.087
  23. Leal W., Barbosa R., Xu W. et al. Reverse and conventional chemical ecology approaches for the development of oviposition attractants for Culex mosquitoes. PLoS One, 2008 Aug 22; 3(8):e3045. (IF: 2.806, 71 citations). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0003045
  24. Grater F., Xu W., et al. Pheromone discrimination by the pheromone-binding protein of Bombyx mori. Structure, 2006, 14: 1–11. (IF: 5.618, 32 citations)
  25. Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Expression of the truncated vip3A gene at the 3′-terminus from Bacillus thuringiensis in Escherichia coli. Chinese Journal of Agriculture Biotechnology, 2006, 14: 401-405.
  26. Shi Y., Lu L., Xu W., et al. Expression of vip2Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis in insect cell. Chinese Journal of Agriculture Biotechnology, 2006, 14: 401-405.
  27. Chen J., Sun F., Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Efficient expression of vip184ΔP gene under the control of promoters plus ‘Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequences of cry genes from Bacillus thruingiensis. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2005, 99:426-434. (IF: 2.386, 9 citations)
  28. Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Expression of vip1/vip2 genes in Escherichia coli and Bacillus thuringiensis and the analysis of their signal peptides. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2004, 97:757-765. (IF: 2.337, 35 citations)
  29. Tang M., Zeng S., Chen J., Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Effects of helper protein encoded by p19 and orf1-orf2 genes on Cyt1Aa protein expression in acrystalliferous strain of Bacillus thuringiensis. Entomologia Sinica., 2003, 4:221-229.
  30. Yu J., Xie R., Tan L., Xu W., et al. Expression of the full-length and 3’-spliced cry1Ab gene in the 135-kDa crystal protein minus derivative of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kyushuensis. Current Microbiology, 2002, 45:133-138. (IF: 1.322,  citations)
  31. Yu J., Xu W., et al. Cloning and expression of cyt2Ba7 gene from a soil-isolated Bacillus thuringiensis. Current Microbiology, 2002, 45:309-314. (IF: 1.322, 2 citations)