Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Dr Xiaocheng Zhu

Dr Xiaocheng Zhu


Xiaocheng Zhu (Diego) is a molecular biologist working on population genetics, phylogenetics and functional genetics of invasive species. His works involve in some most significant weed in Australia and around the world including silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), Echium species (including Paterson’s curse), fleabane (Conyza species), Panicum species, knotweed (Reynoutria species) and mile-a-minute (Mikania micrantha). He works on the biosynthesis pathway of weed-suppressive compounds produced by Australian native Sorghum species using Transcriptome Sequencing and try to unfold the evolutionary adaptation of the genus of Sorghum. Dr. Zhu also use Next Generation Sequencing to investigate the shift of soil microbial communities under various conditions.

Dr. Zhu is currently working as a research fellow on the Dung Beetle Ecosystems Engineers Project. His role involves in mass rearing of new introduced and existing dung beetle species, field monitoring of dung beetle population dynamics, evaluation of ecological benefits of dung beetle, outreach extension and population genetics of introduced dung beetle.

Plant interactions research group

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    Dung Beetle Ecosystems Engineers

    Phylogenetic relationships of 150 Australian native Solanum species which will provide crucial background information for introduction of biological agents.

    Introduction history of silverleaf nightshade (Weed of National Significance).

    Introduction history of Paterson’s curse.

    Phylogenetic relationships among Echium species, Conyza species and Panicum species.

    Global introduction pathway of Mikania micrantha.

    Biosynthesis pathway and in situ localization of allelopathic compounds including sorgoleone from Sorghum species and shikonins from Echium species.

    Molecular identification of invasive plant species and parasitic nematodes.

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  • Plant molecular biology
  • Plant biochemistry
  • Plant microstructure
  • Entomology

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Read more on CSU Research Output

  • Clements, D. R., Day, M. D., Oeggerli, V., Shen, S. C., Weston, L. A., Xu, G. F., . . . Zhu, X. (2019) Site-specific management is crucial to managing Mikania micrantha. Weed Research. doi:10.1111/wre.12359
  • Wu, L., Chen, J., Xiao, Z., Zhu, X., Jiang, X., Wang, J., Wu, Y., Wu, H., Zhang, Z., & Lin, W. (2018) Barcoded Pyrosequencing Reveals a Shift in the Bacterial Community in the Rhizosphere and Rhizoplane of Rehmannia glutinosa under Consecutive Monoculture. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19, 850
  • Zhu, X., Skoneczny, D., Gopurenko, D., Meyer, L., Lepschi, B. J., Weston, P. A., Callaway R. M., Gurr G. M. and Weston, L. A. (2017). Ecology and genetics affect relative invasion success of two Echium species in southern Australia. Scientific Reports, 7, 42792
  • Skoneczny, D., Weston, P. A., Zhu, X., Gurr, G. M., Callaway, R. M., Barrow, R. A., Weston, L. A. (2017). Metabolic profiling and identification of shikonins in root periderm of two invasive Echium spp. weeds in Australia. Molecules, 22, 330
  • Zhu, X., Skoneczny, D., Weidenhamer, J. D., Mwendwa, J. M., Weston, P. A., Gurr, G. M., Callaway, R. M., and Weston, L. A. (2016). Identification and localization of bioactive naphthoquinones in the roots and rhizosphere of Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum), a noxious invader. Journal of Experimental Botany, 67(12), 3777-3788. Cover article
  • Shaik, R. S., Zhu, X., Clements, D. R., Weston, L. A. (2016). Understanding invasion history and predicting invasive niches using genetic sequencing technology in Australia: case studies from Cucurbitaceae and Boraginaceae. Conservation Physiology, 4(1), cow030.
  • Skoneczny, D., Weston, P. A., Zhu, X., Gurr, G. M., Callaway, R. M., and Weston, L. A. (2015). Metabolic Profiling of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Foliage of Two Echium spp. Invaders in Australia - A Case of Novel Weapons? International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16, 26721-26737.
  • Burrows, G. E., White, R. G., Harper, J. D. I., Heady, R. D., Stanton, R. A., Zhu, X., Wu, H., Lemerle, D. (2013). Intrusive trichome bases in the leaves of silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium; Solanaceae) do not facilitate fluorescent tracer uptake. American Journal of Botany, 100(12), 2307-2317. Cover article
  • Zhu, X., Raman, H., Wu, H., Lemerle, D., Burrows, G., & Stanton, R. (2013). Development of SSR markers for genetic analysis of silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) and related species. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter, 31(1), 248-254.
  • Zhu, X., Wu, H. W., Raman, H., Lemerle, D., Stanton, R., & Burrows, G. E. (2012). Evaluation of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers from Solanum crop species for Solanum elaeagnifolium. Weed Research, 52(3), 217-223.

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