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Zhijian (Jake) Tu

University Distinguished Professor
  • Research area(s): Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics of Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Zhijian (Jake) Tu
303 Fralin Hall


Ph.D., Entomology, University of Arizona, 1994

B.S., Physiology and Biophysics, Beijing University, 1988

B.S., Law (Second Degree), Beijing University, 1988


  • June 2008 – present: Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
  • June 2004 – June 2008: Associate Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
  • June 1999 – June 2004: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
  • January 1998 – June 1999: Assistant Research Scientist, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of Arizona
  • August 1994 – December 1997: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of Arizona

Courses Taught

BCHM 4116: General Biochemistry

BCHM 5344: Molecular Biology for Life sciences

BCHM 5014: Protein Biochemistry-Laboratory Rotation

BCHM 5116: Principles of Biochemistry

Other Teaching and Advising

  • Currently advising three PhD students, one Postdoc, and two Research Scientists.
  • Co-Advisor to Class of 2016 Biochemistry Undergraduate Students

Program Focus

Mosquito transmitted diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, and encephalitis claim millions of lives worldwide each year. Current control measures are under threat as drug- and insecticide-resistance increases. Novel approaches are needed and needed urgently. My laboratory studies the basic genetics and physiology of mosquitoes with the long-term goal of reducing the burden of vector-borne infectious diseases.

My laboratory employs functional genomics, comparative genomics, and bioinformatics approaches to study genes involved in sex-determination and early embryonic development in mosquitoes. The above research topics will lead to mosquito control applications through the manipulation of sex ratios and mating behavior. A better understanding of embryonic development will contribute to new approaches to facilitate efficient and safe spread of refractory genes in mosquito populations to control infectious diseases. We are also interested in the function and evolution of non-coding RNAs and repetitive sequences.

Current Projects

1.     Mechanism and application of male determination in aedine mosquitoes.
       PI: Tu, Z. R01AI123338, NIAID, NIH

2.    Guy1-conferred female lethality: mechanism and application for mosquito control.
       PI: Tu, Z. R01AI121284, NIAID, NIH

Dr. Tu's PubMed Site

Criscione, F. Qi, Y., and Tu, Z. 2016. GUY1 confers complete female lethality and is a strong candidate for a male-determining factor in Anopheles stephensi. eLife, in press.

Hall A. B., Papathanos PA, Sharma A, Cheng C, Akbari OS, Assour L, Bergman NH, Cagnetti A, Crisanti A, Dottorini T, Fiorentini E, Galizi R, Hnath J, Jiang X, Koren S, Nolan T, Radune D, Sharakhova MV, Steele A, Timoshevskiy VA, Windbichler N, Zhang S, Hahn MW, Phillippy AM, Emrich SJ, Sharakhov IV*, Tu Z*, Besansky NJ*. 2016. Radical remodeling of the Y chromosome in a recent radiation of malaria mosquitoes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. pii: 201525164. *Co-corresponding authors.

Adelman, Z. and Tu, Z. 2016. Control of mosquito-borne infectious diseases: sex and gene drive. Trends in Parasitology, 32, 219-229.

Gulia-Nuss, M. et al., 2016. Genomic insights into the parasitic vector of Lyme disease, Ixodes scapularis. Nature Communications, 7, article 10507.

Hall, A. B., Basu, S. Jiang, X., Qi, Y., Timoshevskiy, V. A., Biedler, J. K., Sharakhova, M. V., Elahi, R., Anderson, M. A. E., Chen, X., Sharakhov, I. V., Adelman, Z. N*., and Tu, Z.* 2015. A male determining factor in the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Science 348, 1268-70. *Co-corresponding authors.

Neafsey, D., Waterhouse, R., Hall, A.B., Jiang, X., …Sharakhov, I.V., Tu, Z., Zwiebel, L. and Besansky, N. 2015. Highly evolvable malaria vectors: The genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquitoes. Science, 347, 1258522.

Jiang X, Biedler JK, Qi Y, Hall AB, and Tu Z. 2015. Complete dosage compensation in Anopheles stephensi and the evolution of sex-biased genes in mosquitoes. Genome Biol Evol.  7, 1914-24.

Mesquita, R. D. et al., 2015. Genome of Rhodnius prolixus, an insect vector of Chagas disease, reveals unique adaptations to hematophagy and parasite infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 112, 14936-14941.

Chen XG, Jiang X, Gu J, …Tu Z, Fang X, James AA. 2015. Genome sequence of the Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, reveals insights into its biology, genetics, and evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26483478.

Hu, W., Criscione, F., Liang, S. and Tu, Z. 2015. MicroRNAs of two medically important mosquito species: Aedes aegypti and Anopheles stephensi. Insect Mol. Biol., 24, 240-52.

Biedler. J., Chen, X and Tu, Z. 2015 Horizontal transmission of an R4 clade non-long terminal repeat retrotransposon between the divergent Aedes and Anopheles mosquito genera. Insect Mol Biol. 24, 331-7.

Jiang, X., Peery, A., Hall, A.B., …Sharakhov, I.V.*, and Tu, Z.* 2014. Genome analysis of a major urban malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi. Geome Biol., 15, 459. *Co-corresponding authors.

Hall, A. B., Timoshevskiy, V. A., Sharakhova, M. V., Jiang, X., Basu, S., Anderson, M. A. E., Hu, W., Sharakhov, I. V., Adelman, Z. N., and Tu, Z. 2014. Insights into the preservation of the homomorphic sex-determining chromosome of Aedes aegypti from the discovery of a male-biased gene tightly-linked to the M-locus. Genome Biol. Evol. 6: 179-191.

Biedler, J.K., Qi, Y., Pledger, D., James, A.A. and Tu Z. 2014. Maternal Germline-Specific Genes in the Asian Malaria Mosquito Anopheles stephensi: Characterization and Application for Disease Control. G3, 5, 157-66.

International Glossina Genome Initiative. 2014. Genome sequence of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans): vector of African trypanosomiasis. Science. 344, 380-386.

Criscione, F. Qi, Y., Saunders, T.R., Hall, A.B. and Tu, Z. 2013. A unique Y gene in the Asian malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi encodes a small lysine-rich protein and is transcribed at the onset of embryonic development. Insect Mol Biol., 22, 433-441.

Hall, A.B., Qi , Y., Timoshevskiy, V.  Sharakhova, M.V., Sharakhov, I.V. and Tu, Z. 2013. Six novel Y chromosome genes in Anopheles mosquitoes discovered by independently sequencing males and females. BMC Genomics, 14, 273 (13 print pages).

Gu, J., Hu, W., Wu, J., Zheng, P., Chen, M. James, A.A., Che, X. and Tu, Z. 2013. MicroRNA genes of an invasive vector mosquito, Aedes albopictus. PLoS One 8, e67638.