I conducted my PhD studies in a structural biology laboratory at the University of Queensland (UQ) (2012-2015), where I combined protein biochemistry and structural biology to reveal protein structures of key proteins in plant and animal innate immunity. These proteins included proteins acting as signalling activators in plant effector triggered immunity, and in human innate immunity and neuronal disease. My studies have provided structural insights into how immune receptors activate signalling.
I then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO Agriculture & Food (A&F) (2015-2018), where I further studied plant disease immunity in complex plant systems. I combined my expertise in protein biochemistry and structural biology, and developed pipelines to investigate structural-hypothesis in plant-pathogen interactions and plant immune signalling. I have further integrated recent progress in plant and animal immunity to engineer chimeric proteins, revealing fundamental immune signalling mechanisms conserved across different biological contexts.
I am currently at the Research School of Biology (RSB) at the Australian National University (ANU). I have been using my expertise in structural biology and plant-fungal biology to investigate fungal disease in living plants. I recently recieved a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from Australian Research Council (ARC) to use synthetic biology to engineer novel disease resistance in cereal crops.
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=QhzkKa0AAAAJ&hl=en
- Horsefield, S, Burdett, H, Zhang, X et al. 2019, 'NAD+ cleavage activity by animal and plant TIR domains in cell death pathways', Science, vol. 365, no. 6455, pp. 793-799.
- Zhang, X, Dodds, P & Bernoux, M 2017, 'What Do We Know About NOD-Like Receptors in Plant Immunity?', Annual Review of Phytopathology, vol. 55, pp. 205-229.