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    ZHANG Jianxu
    +86-10-64807206, +86-10-64807896  / 
    Zhangjx at ioz.ac.cn
    The State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, P.R.China
    Group of Animal Behavior and Chemical Ecology      


    1. 1997.10-present: Assistant, associate and full professor and PI in the Institute of zoology,Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
    2. 2002.4-2004.7: post doctoral-research associate working on chemical signals of house mice and ferrets in the Institute for Pheromone Research at Department of Chemistry and the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.
    3. 1997.6. Ph.D. with study of chemical communication and behavior of ratlike hamsters (Tscheskia(Cricetulus) triton) in Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
    4. 1992.6. MS. with study of wintering ecology of geese in East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
    5. 1987.6. BS. with study of wintering ecology of long-eared owls in Hebei University, Baoding, Hebei Province, China.

    Research Interest:
    • Chemical identification and artificial simulation of rodent pheromones.  We aim at definitely identifying the volatile components present in social odor to mediate various aspects of socio-sexual behavior of rodents emphasizing house mice and brown rats through both chemical and behavior approaches, where we hope to find some chemical compounds useful in controlling rodents. For evolutionary importance, we also identified some pheromones from birds and spiders, whose pheromones are poorly known.
    • Genetic mechanism underlying pheromone production. Here, we focused our work on the co-variation between odortype and genotype, geneotype by environmental interaction in regulating pheromones, and the effects of genes related to sexual selection and population differentiation on pheromones.
    • Molecular and neural mechanisms of pheromone reception and processing. Our direct interests are the pathway and molecular regulation of pheromone perception involved in activation of socio-sexual behavior in brain.

    Major scientific achievements

    1. Comparative identification of volatile pheromones across animal taxa.
    Based on our long studies on rodent pheromones, we developed a universal approach to search for putative and definitive pheromones across animal taxa. Thereby, we identified first avian sex pheromones and allomones from budgerigars and waxwings and first multi-component sex pheromones of spiders (published). We thus provided key evidence that birds and spiders have volatile compounds similar to rodents and insects, indicating the convergences of pheromone components among animal groups. We also improve the knowledge of olfactory communication between insect pests and their predators including spiders and birds. In addition, we chemically characterized male pheromones from flank glands in golden hamsters (published).

    2. Chemistry and functions of rodent pheromones.
    We first demonstrated that each of many compounds from rat urine odor may have multiple functions in chemical communication, for example, coding for information about both sexual and kinship information (published). We also found that exaggerated male pheromones serve as a “sexual chemical ornament” to attract females, independent of genetic compatibility, whereas genetic dissimilarity could influence the preferences only when the variability in male pheromones was small (submitted). However, such extravagant sexual trait in male rats also incurs greater predation risk by increasing cat attraction (submitted). Therefore, we provide first evidence that sexual and natural selection imparts opposing effects on sex pheromone in rodents.
    We first clarified that pheromones of social dominance in mice are enhanced multiple male pheromone components in urine secreted from preputial glands, independently of urine metabolites themselves, and the pheromones are a heritable male trait affected by interaction between direct genetic effect (DGE) and indirect genetic effect (IGE) (prepared).

    3. Molecular mechanisms underlying sex pheromone production.
    We used immunodeficient nake C57B/6 mice created by knockouting Foxn1 gene to examine the relation between immunity and odor-based mate choice. We found that immunodeficiency significantly suppressed multiple male pheromone levels in voided urine and thus might decrease mating success by reducing female attraction in mate choice (published).
    We also clarified that Darcin and MUP1 of major urine proteins (MUPs) in male mice were highly expressed in the liver and urine of dominant male, implying a possible contact chemosignals of social dominance. The MUP expression was under suppressive control by hepatic CRHR2 (Corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 2) independently of androgen and corticosterone and their receptors (submitted). 

    4. Neural mechanisms of social chemosensory recognition.
    Using Tph2 (Tryptophanhy droxylase 2, the synthetase of central 5-HT) knockout mice, we demonstrated that sexual attractiveness or male-male completion were not suppressed by chronic predator itself or its scent exposure in male mice lacking central 5-HT and some key prefrontal and hippocampal genes were also profoundly influenced   unlike in intact male mice, suggesting that central 5-HT deficiency may increase some ecological adaptation (published). We further revealed that reproduction of Tph2-/- female mice could rescue the deficiency of social olfactory recognition by up-regulating OTR and ERа expression in amygdale (prepared).

    Since 2009, we have published 20 academic papers in the journals including Chemical Senses, Behavioral Ecology, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Physiology and Behavior, Neuroscience, Proceeding of Royal Society Proceeding B, Nature Neuroscience,G3( Genes, Genomes, Genetics),Frontiers in Behavioral Neurosciences, Current Zoology and Integrative Zoology.

    Public Services:

    Awards and Honors:

    1. Co-winner of National Second-Class Award in Progress of Sciences and Technology of China in 2003. (J-201-2-11: Outbreak and management of agricultural rodent pests)
    2. Co-winner of Second-Class Award in Progress of Sciences and Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001. (Outbreak and management of agricultural rodent pests).
    3. Winner of First-Class DI-AO Award for Life Sciences to My PhD thesis titled "Chemical Communication of rat-like hamsters (Cricetulus triton)" in 1997.

    Research Grants:
    • The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences [XDB11010400](B)- Chemical signals and their perception inn rodents (2014-2018) (0.6 million YUAN in 2014).( PI)
    • China Nature Science Foundation-Effects of rat odor on reproductive behavior of mice and the underlying mechanisms. (2013.01-2016.12).(0.85 million YUAN). (PI)
    • China Nature Science Foundation-Genome mutation and its effects on pheromones and mate choice in brown rats.(2013.01-2015.12)(1 million YUAN).(PI)
    • The National Basic Research Program of China [973 Program, No. 2010CB833900]-,The mechanisms of the abnormality of aggressive and affiliative behavior. (2010.01-2014.12).(1.1 million YUAN). (Co-PI)
    • Innovation direction in 12th 5-Year Plan of Chinese Academy of Sciences -Chemical communication in rodents and potential use in rodent controls.(2011.01-2013.12). (0.65 million YUAN). (Co-PI)
    • Frontier Direction of Institute of Zoology,CAS-Genetic by environmental interaction in effects on chemical signals of rodents. (2011.01-2013.12). (0.4 million YUAN). (participant).

    Selected Publication:
    1. Yao-Hua Zhang#, Ming-Ming Tang#,Xiao Guo,Xiao-Rong Gao,Jin-Hua Zhang, Jian-Xu Zhang. 2019. Associative learning is necessary for airborne pheromones to activate sexual arousal-linked brain areas of female rats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73:75 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2685-9.
    2. Yao-Hua Zhang# , Lei Zhao#, Xiao Guo , Jin-Hua Zhang , Jian-Xu Zhang.2019. Sex pheromone levels are associated with paternity rate in brown rats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73:15 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2627-y.
    3. Xiao Guo, Huifen Guo, Lei Zhao, Yao-Hua Zhang, Jian-Xu Zhang. 2018. Two predominant MUPs, OBP3 and MUP13, are male pheromones in rats. Frontiers in Zoology 15:6
    4. Teng H#, Zhang YH#, Shi CM#, Zhao FQ*, Sun ZS* and Zhang JX*. 2017. Population genomics reveals speciation and introgression between brown Norway rats and their sibling species. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 34(9):2214-2228.
    5. Fang Q#, Zhang YH#, Shi YL, Zhang JH, Zhang JX. 2016. Individuality and transgenerational inheritance of social dominance and sex pheromones in isogenic male mice. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 326B:225–236.
    6. Zhang YH and Zhang JX*. 2014. A male pheromone-mediated trade-off between female preferences for genetic compatibility and sexual attractiveness in rats. Frontiers in Zoology 11:73.
    7. ZhangYH, Du YF and Zhang JX*. 2013. Uropygial gland volatiles facilitate species recognition between two sympatric sibling bird species. Behavioral Ecology 24(6): 1271-1278.
    8. Zhang JX, Wei W, Zhang JH and Yang WH. 2010. Uropygial gland-secreted alkanols contribute to olfactory sex signals in budgerigars. Chemical Senses 35:375-382.
    9. Zhang JX, Liu YJ, Zhang JH and Sun L. 2008. Dual role of preputial gland secretion and its major components in sex recognition of mice. Physiology & Behavior, 95:388-394.
    10. Zhang JX, Soini H, Bruce K, Wiesler D., Woodley S, Baum M. and Novotny M. 2005. Putative chemosignals of the ferret (Mustela furo) associated with individual and gender recognition. Chemical Senses 30: 727-737.