Population and Evolutionary Genetics Group —— Principal Investigator

Dr. Xiangjiang Zhan

I joined the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences as a full professor in 2014, which was supported by the “The Recruitment Program of Global Youth Experts” of China. Currently, I am the principal investigator of Lab of Population and Evolutionary Genetics.

I got my PhD degree in the Institute of Zoology, CAS in 2006, and was awarded “Distinguished PhD dissertation of Chinese Academy of Sciences”. In 2008, I went to Cardiff University, UK, for the post-doctoral training and became a lecturer in School of Biosciences of Cardiff University in September, 2013. Up to date, I have published 43 papers in scientific journals, including Nature GeneticsCurrent BiologyMolecular Biology and EvolutionMolecular EcologyScience and Ecology,and many of them were highlighted and recommended by NatureScienceFaculty 1000, BBC, etc. My team has published the first raptor genomes and identified a series of evolutionary features for their predatory lifestyle. I have also involved in the first wildlife population genomics study, where we have reconstructed the complete demographic history of the giant pandas.

Currently, my research team focuses on population genomics, evolutionary genetics and ecology studies on animals, especially birds and small mammals living in extreme environment.

Other Position

Honorary visiting professor of Cardiff University, UK; Editorial Board of Heredity; Editorial Board of Integrative Zoology.


Distinguished PhD dissertation of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Top 49; 2008)

Selected Publications

  • Pan SK, Bruford MW, Wang YS, Lin ZZ, Gu ZR, Hou X, Deng XM, Dixon A, Graves JAM, Zhan XJ. 2018. Transcription-associated mutation promotes RNA complexity in highly expressed genes-a major new source of selectable variation. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35: 1104-1119.
  • Hou X, Xu PW, Lin ZZ, Urban-Jackson J, Dixon A, Bold B, Xu JL, Zhan XJ. 2018. An integrated tool for microsatellite isolation and validation from the reference genome and their application in the study of breeding turnover in an endangered avian population. Integrative Zoology, 12: 553-568(Cover story).
  • Pan SK, Zhang TZ, Rong ZQ, Hu L, Gu ZR, Wu Q, Dong SS, Liu Q, Lin ZZ, Deutschova L, Li XH, Dixon A, Bruford MW, Zhan XJ. 2017. Population transcriptomes reveal synergistic responses of DNA polymorphism and RNA expression to extreme environments on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in a predatory bird. Molecular Ecology, 26: 2993-2010.
  • Dixon AD, Li XH, Rahman L, Batbayar N, Zhan XJ. 2017. Characteristics of home range areas used by Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) wintering on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Bird Conservation International, 27: 525-536.
  • Dahal N, Lissovsky AA, Lin ZZ, Solari K, Hadly EA, Zhan XJ, Ramakrishnan U. 2017. Genetics, morphology and ecology reveal a cryptic pika lineage in the Sikkim Himalaya. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 106: 55-60.
  • Dixon AD, Dragyov D, Purev-Ochir G, Rahman L, Batbayar N, Bruford MW, Zhan XJ. 2016. Evidence for deleterious effects of harness-mounted satellite transmitters on Saker Falcons Falco cherrug. Bird Study, 63: 96-106.
  • Bruford MW,…. Zhan XJ. 2015. Prospects and challenges for the conservation of farm animal genomic resources, 2015-2025. Frontier in Genetics, 6: 314.
  • Zhan XJ, Dixon A, Batbayar N, Bragin E, Z Ayas et al. 2015. Exonic versus intronic SNPs: contrasting roles in revealing the population genetic differentiation of a widespread bird species. Heredity, 114: 1-9. (Cover story)
  • Li XH, Jiang GS, Tian HD, Xu L, Yan C, Wang ZW, Wei FW, and Zhang ZB. 2015. Human impact and climate cooling caused range contraction of large mammals in China over the past two millennia. Ecography, 38: 74-82.
  • Jarvis ED,……, Zhan XJ…... 2014. Whole genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds. Science, 346: 1320-1331. (Cover story)
  • Zhan GJ,……, Zhan XJ……2014. Comparative genomics across modern bird species reveal insights into avian genome evolution and adaptation. Science, 346: 1311-1320. (Cover story)
  • Zhan XJ, Pan SK, Wang JY, Dixon A, He J et al. 2013. Peregrine and saker falcon genome sequences provide insights into evolution of a predatory lifestyle. Nature Genetics, 45: 563-566. (Highlighted by Faculty 1000)
  • Zhao SC*, Zheng PP*, Dong SS*, Zhan XJ*, Wu Q*et al. 2013. Whole-genome sequencing of giant pandas provides insights into demographic history and local adaptation. Nature Genetics, 45: 67-71. (*contributed equally) (Cover story)
  • Zhu LF, Hu YB, Qi DW, Wu H, Zhan XJ et al. 2013. Genetic consequences of historical anthropogenic and ecological events on giant pandas. Ecology, 94: 2346-2357. (Cover story)
  • Wei FW, Hu YB, Zhu LF, Bruford MW, Zhan XJ et al. 2012. Black and white and read all over: the past, present and future of giant panda genetics. Molecular Ecology, 21: 5660-5674. (Cover story)
  • Zhan XJ, Zheng YF, Wei FW, Bruford MW & Jia CX. 2011. Molecular evidence for Pleistocene refugia at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Molecular Ecology, 20: 3014-3026.
  • Zhu LF, Zhan XJ, Wu H, Zhang SN, Meng T et al. 2010. Conservation implications of drastic reductions in the smallest and most isolated populations of giant pandas. Conservation Biology, 24: 1299-1306.
  • Zhan XJ, Zhang ZJ, Wu H, Goossens B, Li M et al. 2007. Molecular analysis of dispersal in giant pandas. Molecular Ecology, 16: 3792-3800.
  • Zhan XJ, Li M, Zhang ZJ, Goossens B, Chen YP et al. 2006. Molecular censusing doubles giant panda population estimate in a key nature reserve. Current Biology, 16: R451-452. (Cover story and highlighted by Nature, Science etc.)
  • Zhan XJ & Zhang ZW. 2005. Molecular phylogeny of avian genus Syrmaticus based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and control region. Zoological Science, 22: 427-435.