Zaigao Tan

Special Researcher/Tenure-track Associate Professor

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Education and Research Experience

  • 2008 B.S., Shandong Agriculture University 
  • 2011 M.S., Shandong University
  • 2014 Ph.D., University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology
  • 2014-2016 Postdoc, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University
  • 2016-2019 Postdoc, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of Biosciences, Rice University
  • 2019-Now principal investigator (PI), State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Research Interests

Microbial production of plant natural products

Plant natural products represent a class of bioactive compounds which are widely used in pharmacy, health products, food and cosmetics. We will elucidate the biosynthetic mechanism of several important plant natural products, assemble the related pathway enzymes in E. coli or yeast host cells using the synthetic biology tool, and finally achieve the microbial production of those important chemicals.

Tolerance engineering of microbial cell factories

Constructing microbial cell factories that produce biorenewables at economically viable yields and titers is often hampered by toxicities from both accumulated product and inhibitors in raw materials. We will elucidate the damage mechanism of cell factories caused by those toxic chemicals, and thus conceive corresponding resistant strategies. Through constructing highly tolerant cell factories, we will pave the way for eco-efficient synthesis of biorenewables.

Design of novel biosynthetic pathways

The key for constructing microbial cell factories relies on the design of biosynthetic pathway. However, naturally evolved pathways might be optimal for survival and propagation of living beings but not for the highly efficient production of target chemicals. To address this, we will firstly conceive the novel pathways using computational method, mine the required enzymes from the currently available database, and finally assemble those enzymes together into the microbial hosts. Through creation and application of those novel pathways with superior capacities, we hope achieve the high production of the interested products.

Selected Publications

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    A non-carboxylative route for the efficient synthesis of central metabolite malonyl-CoA and its derived products


    Integration of (S)-2,3-oxidosqualene enables E. coli to become Iron Man E. coli with improved overall tolerance


    Designing artificial pathways for improving chemical production


    A polyketoacyl-CoA thiolase-dependent pathway for the synthesis of polyketide backbones


    The isoprenoid alcohol pathway, a synthetic route for isoprenoid biosynthesis

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    Engineering of E. coli inherent fatty acid biosynthesis capacity to increase octanoic acid production


    Synthetic Pathway for the Production of Olivetolic Acid in Escherichia coli


    Engineering Escherichia coli Membrane Phospholipid Head Distribution Improves Tolerance and Production of Biorenewables


    Improving Escherichia coli membrane integrity and fatty acid production by expression tuning of FadL and OmpF


    Membrane Engineering via Trans Unsaturated Fatty Acids Production Improves Escherichia coli Robustness and Production of Biorenewables

Teaching Experiences

  • 2014-2016, Postdoctoral Research Associate of Iowa State University
  • 2016-2019, Postdoctoral Research Associate of Rice University
  • 2019-now, Ph.D supervisor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • 2019-now, Tenure track associate professor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University