Wei Zhang

Principal Investigator

Educational experience

2005 BS in Biotechnology, Shandong University, China
2011 PhD in Botany, Peking University, China

Work experience

2018-present Principal Investigator, School of Life Sciences, Peking University
2018-present Principal Investigator, Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences, Peking University
2012-2017 Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago
2012 Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago


Research Interests

Our research tackles some fundamental evolutionary questions such as speciation, adaptation, and introgression. In particular, our work focuses on integrating experimental and computational approaches to study adaptive introgression in model and non-model organisms. Our research interests also include investigating anti-predator adaptation such as mimicry, aposematic coloration, and camouflage in insects.

Representative Publications

  • (* equal contribution, # corresponding author)
    Yang J*, Wan W*, Xie M*, Mao J*, Dong Z*, Lu S, He J, Xie F, Liu G, Dai X, Chang Z, Zhao R, Zhang R, Wang S, Zhang Y, Zhang W#, Wang W#, Li X#. Chromosome-level reference genome assembly and gene editing of the dead-leaf butterfly. Mol. Ecol. Resour. 2020 Jul;20(4):1080-1092. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.13185.(Cover Story)
    Mullen SP#, VanKuren NW, Zhang W, Nallu S, Kristiansen EB, Wuyun Q, Liu K, Hill RI, Briscoe AD, Kronforst MR. Disentangling population history and character evolution among hybridizing lineages. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2020 Jan 13. pii: msaa004. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msaa004.
    Zhang W#, Leon-Ricardo BX, van Schooten B, Van Belleghem SM, Counterman BA, McMillan WO, Kronforst MR, Papa R. Comparative transcriptomics provides insights into reticulate and adaptive evolution of a butterfly radiation. Genome Biol. Evol. 2019 Sep 13. 11(10):2963-2975. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evz202.
    Chen J*#, Huang Y*, Brachi B*, Yun Q*, Zhang W, Lu W, Li H, Li W, Sun X, Wang G, He J, Zhou Z, Chen K, Ji Y, Shi M, Sun W, Yang Y#, Zhang R#, Abbott RJ#, Sun H#. Genome-wide analysis of Cushion willow provides insights into alpine plant divergence in a biodiversity hotspot. Nat. Commun. 2019 Nov 19;10(1):5230. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13128-y.
    Westerman E*, VanKuren N*, Massardo D, Tanger-Trolander A, Zhang W, Hill RI, Perry M, Bayala E, Barr K, Chamberlain N, Douglas TE, Buerkle N, Palmer S, Kronfost MR#. Aristaless controls butterfly wing color variation used in mimicry and mate choice. Curr. Biol. 2018 Nov 5;28(21):3469-3474.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.08.051.
    Nallu S, Hill JA, Don K, Sahagun C, Zhang W, Meslin C, Snell-Rood E, Clark NL, Morehouse NI, Bergelson J, Wheat CW, Kronforst MR#. The molecular genetic basis of herbivory between butterflies and their host-plants. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 2018 Sep;2(9):1418-1427. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0629-9. (Reported by Nature Plants)
    Zhang W, Westerman E, Nitzany E, Palmer S, Kronforst MR#. Tracing the origin and evolution of supergene mimicry in butterflies. Nat. Commun. 2017 Nov 7;8(1):1269. (Reported by University of Chicago, PBS, and ScienceDaily)
    Zhang W#, Dasmahapatra KK, Mallet J, Moreira GR, Kronforst MR#. Genome-wide introgression among distantly related Heliconius butterfly species. Genome Biol. 2016 Feb 27;17(1):25. (Research highlighted by Genome Biology)
    Li X*, Fan D*, Zhang W*, Liu G*, Zhang L*, Zhao L, Fang X, Chen L, Dong Y, Chen Y, Ding Y, Zhao R, Feng M, Zhu Y, Feng Y, Jiang X, Zhu D, Xiang H, Feng X, Li S, Wang J, Zhang G, Kronforst MR#, Wang W#. Outbred genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in butterflies. Nat. Commun. 2015 Sep 10;6:8212.
    Zhan S#, Zhang W, Niitepold K, Hsu J, Fernández Haeger J, Zalucki M, Altizer S, De Roode J, Reppert S, Kronforst MR#. The genetics of monarch butterfly migration and warning colouration. Nature. 2014 Oct 16;514(7522):317-21. (Reported by Nature News & Views, Science Magazine, NY Times, National Geographic, Washington Post and NBC News)
    Kunte K*#, Zhang W*, Tenger-Trolander A, Palmer D, Martin A, Reed RD, Mullen SP, Kronforst MR#. doublesex is a mimicry supergene. Nature. 2014 Mar 13;507(7491):229-32. (Recommended by Faculty of 1000, reported by Nature News & Views, Nature Magazine, Science Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and University of Chicago and included in An Introduction to Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics, 2016 Edition and Genetics: From Genes to Genomes (Hartwell), 2017 Edition)
    Kronforst MR#, Hansen MEB, Crawford NG, Gallant JR, Zhang W, Kulathinal RJ, Kapan DD, Mullen SP#. Hybridization reveals the evolving genomic architecture of speciation. Cell Rep. 2013 Nov 14;5(3):666-77. (Selected as Cell Report Best of 2013 and reported by Science Magazine, The Economist, LA Times and University of Chicago)
    Zhang W, Kunte K, Kronforst MR#. Genome-wide characterization of adaptation and speciation in tiger swallowtail butterflies using de novo transcriptome assemblies. Genome Biol. Evol. 2013;5(6):1233-45. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evt090. (Cover Story)
    Yang C, Zhang W, Ren M, Song L, Li T#, Zhao J#. Whole-genome sequence of Microcystis aeruginosa TAIHU98, a nontoxic bloom-forming strain isolated from Taihu Lake, China. Genome Announ. 2013 Jun 1(3). pii: e00333-13.
    Hu Y, Zhang X, Shi Y, Zhou Y, Zhang W, Su XD, Xia B, Zhao J#, Jin C#. Structures of Anabaena calcium-binding Protein CcbP: insights into Ca2+ signaling during heterocyst differentiation. J Biol. Chem. 2011 Apr 286(14): 12381-12388.
    Shi Y*, Zhao W*, Zhang W, Ye Z, Zhao J#. Regulation of intracellular free calcium concentration during heterocyst differentiation by HetR and NtcA in Anabaena sp. PCC 7120. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2006 Jul 103(30): 11334-11339.

Teaching courses