Prof. Li's major research interest is marine microbial symbionts in sponges and corals. The marine biosphere is well-endowed with symbioses. As one of the oldest multicellular animals, i.e. more than 600 million years old, marine sponges (phylum Porifera) probably represent one of the most complex symbioses on the earth. Corals (more than 500 million years old) also harbor abundant and diverse microbial symbionts. Marine microbial symbionts are suggested to play an important role in the host's chemical defense, nutrients and energy transfer as well as the marine C/N/P cycle, and are important resources for marine natural products and functional genes. The present research includes:
1. Marine natural products and enzymes from marine microbial symbionts, biosynthesis and fermentation.
2. Symbiotic microbiome: community structure and functions of marine microbial symbionts in sponge holobiont/coral holobiont, interaction between the host and its microbial symbionts.
3. Response and adaption of sponge holobiont and coral holobiont to environment and climate changes.
Zhiyong Li. ed. Symbiotic Microbiomes of Coral Reefs Sponges and Corals. Springer Nature, 2019
Analysis of functional gene transcripts suggests active CO2 assimilation and CO oxidation by diverse bacteria in marine sponges. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 2019, 95,fiz087
Symbiochlorum hainanensis gen. et sp. nov. (ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta) isolated from bleached corals living in the South China Sea. Journal of Phycology. 2018, 54, 811-817
New Genomic Insights into “Entotheonella” Symbionts in Theonella swinhoei: Mixotrophy, Anaerobic Adaptation, Resilience, and Interaction. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2016, 7,1333.
Pezizomycotina dominates the fungal communities of South China Sea Sponges Theonella swinhoei and Xestospongia testudinaria. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 2014, 90, 935-945.
Functional transcripts indicate phylogenetically diverse active ammonia-scavenging microbiota in sympatric sponges. Marine Biotechnology. 2018, 20,131–143
New Metabolites From the Co-culture of Marine-DerivedActinomycete Streptomyces rochei MB037 and Fungus Rhinocladiellasimilis 35. Front. Microbiol. 2019,10, 915.
Biosynthesis in vitro of bacillamide intermediate-heterocyclic AlaCysthiazole by heterologous expression of nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS). Journal of Biotechnology. 2019, 292:5-11