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 and Insect Molecular Biology.

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

 

Awards and grants

  • 2016-2018 ARC DECRA ($372,000)
  • 2015-2017 PBCRC 3149 Molecular basis of response to (sub)lethal stresses ($692,978)
  • 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

  • Xu W.. Molecular basis of response to (sub)lethal stresses. Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, Austria, September 2, 2015.
  • Xu W.. Molecular basis of response to (sub)lethal stresses. PBCRC Science Exchange Program, Sunshine Coast, Australia, August 11-14, 2015.
  • Xu W.. How do insects smell and taste? Australia National University, Canberra, Australia. August 7, 2014.
  • Xu W.. Chemosensory genes from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. International Chemical Ecology Conference (ICEC), Melbourne, Australia. August 19-23, 2013.
  • Xu W.. Chemosensory genes from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The 14th Australasian Association for ChemoSensory Science (AACSS) conference, Melbourne, Australia. August 16-18, 2013.
  • Xu W..A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. XVI International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT) conference, Stockholm, Sweden. June 23-27, 2012.
  • Xu W.. A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera.  The 28th International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) annual conference, Vilnius, Lithuania. July 22-26, 2012.
  • Xu W.. Olfactory receptors from cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The 13th Australasian Association for ChemoSensory Science (AACSS) conference, Matakana, New Zealand. December 7-9, 2011.
  • Xu W.. Navel orangeworm moth (Amyleois transitella) pheromone-binding protein 1 (AtraPBP1). The 6th Asia-Pacific Association of Chemical Ecologists (APACE) conference. Beijing, China. October 11-15, 2011.
  • Xu W.. Odorant binding proteins from malaria mosquito Anopheles funestus. The 8th Chinese National Chemical Ecology Conference, Shanghai, China. October 9-12, 2010.
  • Xu W.. Study on Aedes Aegypti odorant binding protein-1. The 92th Entomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch annual meeting, Boise, ID, USA. April 10-13, 2010.
  • Xu W. The olfactory system of mosquito. State key laboratory for biocontrol, Guangzhou, China. October 23, 2010.
  • Xu W.. Insect olfactory system, moth, mosquito and beetle. International insect science symposium, Beijing, China. July 24-30, 2009.
  • Xu W.. The localization of Culex quinquefasciatus odorant binding protein-1 (CquiOBP1). The 56th Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting, Reno, NV, USA. November 16-19, 2008.
  • Xu W.. Study on odorant binding proteins from malaria mosquito Anopheles funestus. The 91th Entomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch annual meeting, Napa, CA, USA. April 1-3, 2008.
  • Xu W.. Molecular switch for pheromone release from Bombyx mori pheromone-binding protein. The 90thEntomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch annual meeting, Portland, OR, USA. March 25-28, 2007.
  • Xu W.. Molecular switch atthe C-terminus of BmorPBP. The 54th Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting,Indianapolis, IN, USA. December 10-13, 2006.

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

Publications

  1. Xu W. and Anderson A. Carbon dioxide receptor genes in cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. The Science of Nature, 2015; 102 (3-4): 1-9.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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)

    Xu W., Zhang H. and Anderson A. A sugar gustatory receptor identified from the foregut of cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. J. Chem. Ecology, 2012; 38(12):1513-20.

    Xu W., Xu X., et al. Extrusion of the C-terminal helix in navel orangeworm moth pheromone-binding protein (AtraPBP1) controls pheromone binding. BBRC, 2011; 404(1):335-8.

    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. PNAS, 2010; 107(44):19102-7.

    Xu W., Cornel A. and Leal W. Odorant binding proteins of the malaria mosquito Anopheles funestus sensu stricto. PLoS One 5 (10),e15403, 2010.

    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

    Xu W. The progress of mosquito olfaction study. Chinese J. Envir. Ent., 2009, 2:175-180.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Xu W. and Leal W. Molecular Switch of Pheromone Binding Protein from Bombyx mori. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2008, 372, 559-564.

    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.

    Grater F., Xu W., et al. Pheromone discrimination by the pheromone-binding protein of Bombyx mori. Structure, 2006, 14: 1–11.

    Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Expression of the truncated vip3A gene at the 3′-terminus from Bacillus thuringiensis in Escherichia coli. Chinese J. Agri. Biotech., 2006, 14: 401-405.

    Shi Y., Lu L., Xu W., et al.Expressionof vip2Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis in insect cell. Chinese J. Agri. Biotech., 2006, 14: 401-405.

    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. J. Appl. Microbiol., 2005, 99:426-434.

    Shi Y., Xu W., et al. Expression of vip1/vip2 genes in Escherichia coli and Bacillus thuringiensis and the analysis of their signal peptides. J. Appl. Microbiol., 2004, 97:757-765.

    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.

    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. Curr. Microbiol., 2002, 45:133-138.

    Yu J., Xu W., et al. Cloning and expression of cyt2Ba7 gene from a soil-isolated Bacillus thuringiensis. Curr. Microbiol., 2002, 45:309-314.