Zheng Zhao

My name is Zhao Zheng. I am a Ph.D. student in FungiG. My primary research is focused on the production and application of fungal surface-active proteins hydrophobins (HFBs) and cerato-platanins (CPs). These are amphiphilic small secreted cysteine-rich proteins that are only found in filamentous fungi, including Trichoderma, Aspergillus, and some other common molds. HFBs have shown numerous remarkable functions, such as contributing to spore surfaces’ hydrophobicity and their subsequent dispersal, fungal stress resistance. To humankind, HFBs can also be made into antifoaming agents and used as drug carriers for targeted medicine. Gene mutation can change protein characters and even biological function. Therefore, besides the research work on the production of HFBs and such other proteins by eukaryotic cell factories (yeast and filamentous fungi), my other research interest is protein engineering, which allows me to explore the possibility of artificial design in improving one designated protein function.

Besides doing research, I like street dance. I especially enjoy Popping. My goal is to be the one who can dance the most in the scientific circles and do the best in the street dance.

My recent publication:

Zhao, Z., Cai, F., Gao, R., Ding, M., Jiang, S., Chen, P.J, Chenthamara, K., Shen, Q., Bayram Akcapinar, G., Druzhinina, I.S. Hyphosphere SSCPs optimize surface properties to a moderately hydrophilic state suitable for fungal attachment, in preparation

Cai, F., Gao, R., Zhao, Z., Ding, M., Jiang, S., Yagtu, C., Zhu, H., Zhang, J., Ebner, T., Mayrhofer-Reinhartshuber, M., Kainz, P., Chenthamara, K., Bayram-Akcapinar, G., Shen, Q., and Druzhinina, I. S. 2020 Evolutionary compromises in fungal fitness: hydrophobins hinder the adverse dispersal of spores and challenge their survival, The ISME J 14, 2610–2624 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-020-0709-0

Ding, M., Chen, W., Gao, R., Jiang, S., Zhao, Z., Cai, F., and Druzhinina, I. S. Emerging salt marshes as a source of Trichoderma arenerea sp. nov. and other fungal bioeffectors for biosaline agriculture, Journal of Applied Microbiology, doi: 10.1111/jam.14751.

Gao, R., Ding, M., Jiang, S., Zhao, Z., Chenthamara, K., Shen, Q. Cai, F., Druzhinina I.S. 2020. The evolutionary and functional paradox of cerato-platanins in the mycoparasitic fungi Applied and Environmental Microbiology 86:e00696-20