Principal Investigator: Dr. Prof. Hua Xiang

Deputy Director of SKLMR, IM, CAS

Telephone: 86-10-64807472

Address: NO.1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China

Postcode: 100101

Research Areas

Molecular genetics and metabo​lism of the extremely halophilic archaea and other halophiles.


B.S. 1991  Biology, Beijing Normal University 
M.S. 1994  Genetics, Beijing Normal University ​
Ph.D. 1997  Biochemistry & Molecular biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College (CAMS&PUMC)


Work Experience

1997-1999     Dr. H. Tan’s Lab., Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

1999-2001     Dr. David WC Li’s Lab., University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), New Jersy, U.S. A

2001-2003     Principal Investigator and Associate Professor, IMCAS 

2003-present  Principal Investigator, Professor and Ph.D Advisor, IMCAS

Teaching Experience

Courses taught at UCAS and Institute of Microbilogy, CAS

  -Microbial Genetics and Molecular Biology

  -Frontiers in Microbiology

Honors & Distinctions

2009 Awardee of the National Distinguished Young Scholar Program, China

2014 Awardee of the One Hundred Talents Program, CAS (Type D) 


Prof. Xiang's group has published almost 70 papers on internatioal journals and holden 15 patents since 2004.


Liu J, Wang Q, Jiang X, Yang H, Zhao D, Han J, Luo Y, Xiang H*. 2017. Systematic analysis of Lysine acetylation in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax mediterranei. J Proteome Res. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.7b00222.

Han J, Wu L, Liu X, Hou J, Zhao L, Chen J, Zhao D, Xiang H*. 2017. Biodegradation and biocompatibility of haloarchaea-produced poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) copolymers. Biomaterials. 139, 172-186.

Li M, Gong L., Zhao D, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2017. The spacer size of I-B CRISPR is modulated by the terminal sequence of the protospacer. Nucleic Acids Research. 45, 4642-4654.

Zhao D, Kumar S, Zhou J, Wang R, Li M, Xiang H*. 2017. Isolation and complete genome sequence of Halorientalis hydrocarbonoclasticus sp. nov., a hydrocarbon-degrading haloarchaeon. Extremophiles. 21(6): 1081-1090.

Zhao D, Yang H, Chen J, Cheng F, Kumar S, Han J, Li M, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2017. Development of the first gene expression system for Salinicoccus strains with potential application in bioremediation of hypersaline wastewaters. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 101(19): 7249-7258

Cheng F, Gong L, Zhao D, Yang H, Zhou J, Li M, Xiang H*, 2017, Harnessing the native type I-B CRISPR-Cas for genome editing in a polyploid archaeon. J Genet Genomics,

Borjian F, Han J, Hou J, Xiang H, Zarzycki J, Berg IA. 2017. Malate synthase and beta-methylmalyl coenzyme a lyase reactions in the methylaspartate cycle in Haloarcula hispanica. J Bacteriol. 199(4), pii: e00657-16. doi: 10.1128/JB.00657-16.


Wang R, Li M, Gong L, Hu S, Xiang H*. 2016. DNA motifs determining the accuracy of repeat duplication during CRISPR adaptation in Haloarcula hispanica. Nucleic Acids Research, 44(9):4266-77.

Liu G, Cai S, Hou J, Zhao D, Han J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2016. Enoyl-CoA hydratase mediates polyhydroxyalkanoate mobilization in Haloferax mediterranei. Scientific Reports. 6, 24015.

Borjian F, Han J, Hou J, Xiang H, Berg IA. 2016. The methylaspartate cycle in haloarchaea and its possible role in carbon metabolism. ISME Journal, 10(3):546-57.

Liu X, Wu L, Hou J, Chen J, Han J*, Xiang H*. 2016. Environmental biodegradation of haloarchaea-produced poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) in activated sludge.  Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 100(15):6893-902.

Chen S, Liu HC, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2016. Haloparvum sedimenti gen. nov., sp. nov., a new member of the family Haloferacaceae. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 2016, 66(6):2327-34.

Chen S, Liu HC, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2016. Halorubrum pallidum sp. nov., a novel extremely halophilic archaeon isolated from a subterranean rock salt. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 2016, 66(8):2980-6.

Chen S, Wang C, Xiang H*. 2016. Sequence analysis and minimal replicon determination of a new haloarchaeal plasmid pHF2 isolated from Haloferax sp. strain Q22. Plasmid. 83:1-7.

Xiang H*2016. PHBHV Biosynthesis by Haloferax mediterranei: from Genetics, Metabolism, and Engineering to Economical Production. Recent Advances in Biotechnology (Martin Koller Ed. Bentham Science Publishers)2016, 348-379.


Yang H, Wu Z, Liu J, Liu X, Wang L, Cai S, Xiang H*, 2015, Activation of a dormant replication origin is essential for Haloferax mediterranei lacking the primary origins. Nature Communications, 6:8321.

Liu G, Hou J, Cai S, Zhao D, Cai L, Han J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2015. A patatin-like protein associated with the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granules of Haloferax mediterranei acts as an efficient depolymerase in degradation of native PHA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(9):3029-38.

Han J, Wu LP, Hou J, Zhao D, Xiang H*. 2015. Biosynthesis, characterization and hemostasis potential of tailor-made poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) produced by Haloferax mediterranei. Biomacromolecules, 16: 578-588. 

Hou J, Xiang H*, Han J*. 2015. Propionyl-CoA carboxylase in Haloferax mediterranei: indispensability for propionyl-CoA assimilation and impacts on global metabolism. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(2):794-804.

Cai S, Cai L, Zhao D, Liu G, Han J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2015. A novel DNA-binding protein, PhaR, plays a central role in the regulation of polyhydroxyalkanoate accumulation and granule formation in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterraneiApplied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(1):373-385.

Chen S, Liu HC, Zhao D, Yang J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2015. Halorubrum yunnanense sp. nov., isolated from a subterranean salt mine. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 65(12):4526-32.

Lu H, Lü Y, Ren J, Wang Z, Wang Q, Luo Y, Han J, Xiang H, Du Y, Jin C. 2015. Identification of the S-layer glycoproteins and their covalently linked glycans in the halophilic archaeon Haloarcula hispanica. Glycobiology, 2015 25(11):1150-62.


Wu Z, Yang H, Liu J, Wang L, Xiang H*. 2014. Association between the dynamics of multiple replication origins and the evolution of multireplicon genome architecture in Haloarchaea. Genome Biology and Evolution, 26(10):2799-810. 

Li M, Wang R, Xiang H*. 2014. Haloarcula hispanica CRISPR authenticates PAM of a target sequence to prime discriminative adaptation. Nucleic Acids Research, 42(11):7226-35

Cai L, Cai S, Zhao D, Wu J, Wang L, Liu X, Li M, Hou J, Zhou J, Liu J, Han J, Xiang H*. 2014. Analysis of the transcriptional regulator GlpR, promoter elements, and posttranscriptional processing involved in fructose-induced activation of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar phosphotransferase system in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80(4):1430-40.

Wu Z, Liu J, Yang H, Liu H, Xiang H*.2014. Multiple replication origins with diverse control mechanisms in Haloarcula hispanicaNucleic Acids Research42(4): 2282-2294. 

Li M, Wang R, Zhao D, Xiang H*. 2014. Adaptation of the Haloarcula hispanica CRISPR-Cas system to a purified virus strictly requires a priming process. Nucleic Acids Research42(4): 2483-2492. 

Wu Z, Liu J, Yang H, Xiang H*.2014. DNA replication origins in archaea. Frontiers in Microbiology, 5:179. 

Hou J, Han J, Cai L, Zhou J, LüY, Jin C, Liu J, Xiang H*. 2014. Characterization of genes for chitin catabolism in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 98(3): 1185-1194.


Hou J, Feng B, Han J, Liu H, Zhao D, Zhou J, Xiang  H*. 2013. Haloarchaeal type β-ketothiolases involved in poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) synthesis in Haloferax mediterraneiApplied and  Environmental Microbiology, 79(17):5104-11.

Han J, Hou J, Zhang F, Ai G, Li M, Cai S, Liu H, Wang L, Wang Z, Zhang S, Cai L, Zhao D, Zhou J, Xiang H*.2013. Multiple propionyl-CoA supplying pathways for production of bioplastic poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 79(9): 2922-31.
Liu X, Wang L, Liu J, Cai L, Xiang H*. 2013. Genome-wide analysis of gene expression in stationary phase and genetic characterization of stationary-phase-dependent halocin gene expression in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterraneiJournal of Genetics and Genomics, 40: 441-444.  
Liu H, Luo Y, Han J, Wu J, Wu Z, Feng D, Cai S,  Li M, Liu J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2013. Proteome reference map of Haloarcula hispanica and comparative proteomic and transcriptomic analysis of polyhydroxyalkanoate biosynthesis under genetic and environmental perturbations. Journal of Proteome Research12(3):1300-15.

Li M, Liu H, Han J, Liu J, Wang R, Zhao D, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2013. Characterization of CRISPR RNA biogenesis and Cas6-cleavage mediated inhibition of a provirus in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterraneiJournal of Bacteriology, 195(4):867-75.

Liu X, Miao D, Zhang F, Wu Z, Liu J, Xiang H*. 2013. Characterization of the minimal replicon of pHM300 and independent copy number control of major and minor chromosomes of Haloferax mediterraneiFEMS Microbiology Letters, 339(1):66-74.

Zhao D, Cai L, Wu J, Li  M, Liu H, Han J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2013. Improving polyhydroxyalkanoate production by knocking out the genes involved in exopolysaccharide biosynthesis in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology97(7):3027-36.


Wu Z, Liu H, Liu J, Liu X, Xiang H*. 2012. Diversity and evolution of multiple orc/cdc6-adjacent replication origins in haloarchaea, BMC Genomics.13: 478. 
Liu J, Li J, Wu Z, Pei H, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2012. Identification and Characterization of the cognate anti-sigma factor and specific promoter elements of a T. tengcongensis ECF sigma factor. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40885.  
Han J, Zhang F, Hou J, Liu X, Li M, Liu H, Cai L, Zhang B, Chen Y, Zhou J, Hu S, Xiang H*. 2012. Complete genome sequence of the metabolically versatile halophilic archaeon Haloferax mediterranei, a poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) producer. Journal of Bacteriology, 194 (16): 4463–4464. 
Cai L, Zhao D, Hou J, Wu J, Cai S, DasSarma P, Xiang H*. 2012. Cellular and organellar membrane-associated proteins in haloarchaea: perspectives on physiological significance and biotechnological application. Science China Life Science, 55: 404–414.
Cai S, Cai L, Liu H, Liu X, Han J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2012. Identification of the haloarchaeal type phasin (PhaP) that functions in polyhydroxyalkanoate accumulation and granule formation in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 78(6):1946-1952.


Liu H, Wu Z, Li M, Zhang F, Zheng H, Han J, Liu J, Zhou J, Wang S, Xiang H*. 2011. Complete genome sequence of Haloarcula hispanica, a model haloarchaeon for studying genetics, metabolism, and virus-host interaction. Journal of Bacteriology, 193(21):6086-7.  
Liu H, Han J, Liu X, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2011. Development of pyrF-based gene knockout systems for genome-wide manipulation of the archaea Haloferax mediterranei and Haloarcula hispanicaJ Genet Genomics, 38(6):261-9.  
Li J, Liu J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2011. Functional evaluation of four putative DNA-binding regions in Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis reverse gyrase. Extremophiles. 15(2):281-91.


Han J, Hou J, Liu H, Cai S, Feng B, Zhou J, Xiang H*2010. Wide distribution among halophilic archaea of a novel polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase subtype with homology to bacterial type III synthases. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76(23): 7811-7819.
Han J, Li M, Hou J, Wu L, Zhou J, Xiang H*2010. Comparison of four phaC genes from Haloferax mediterranei and their function in different PHBV copolymer biosyntheses in Haloarcula hispanicaSaline Systems, 2010, 6:9.
Li J, Liu J, Zhou L, Pei H, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2010. Two distantly homologous DnaG primases from Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis exhibit distinct initiation specificities and priming activities. Journal of Bacteriology192(11):2670-81.


James A. Coker, Priya DasSarma, Melinda Capes, Tammitia Wallace, Karen McGarrity, Rachael Gessler, Jingfang Liu, Hua Xiang, Roman Tatusov, Brian R. Berquist, and Shiladitya DasSarma. 2009. Multiple Replication Origins of Halobacterium sp. Strain NRC-1: properties of the conserved orc7-Dependent oriC1. Journal of Bacteriology, 191(16): 5253–5261.  
Han J, Lu Q, Zhou L, Liu H, Xiang H*. 2009. Identification of the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-Specific Acetoacetyl Coenzyme A Reductase among Multiple FabG Paralogs in Haloarcula hispanica and Reconstruction of the PHA Biosynthetic Pathway in Haloferax volcanii. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75(19): 6168–6175.


Lu Q, Han J, Zhou L, Coker JA, DasSarma P, DasSarma S, Xiang H*. 2008. Dissection of the regulatory mechanism of a heat-shock responsive promoter in haloarchaea: a new paradigm for general transcription factor directed archaeal gene regulation. Nucleic Acids Research, 36(9):3031–3042.  
Mei S, Sun C, Liu X, Lu Q, Cai L, Li Y, Xiang H*. 2008. The helix-loop-helix motif at the N-terminal of HalI is responsible for its immunity function against halocin C8. Journal of Bacteriology, 190(19):6501-6508.  
Zhou L, Zhou M, Sun C, Han J, Lu Q, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2008. Precise determination, cross-recognition and functional analysis of the double-strand origins of the rolling circle replication plasmids in haloarchaea. Journal of Bacteriology, 190(16): 5710-5719.  
Lu Q, Han J, Zhou L, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2008. Genetic and biochemical characterization of the poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) synthase in Haloferax mediterranei. Journal of Bacteriology,190 (12): 4173–4180.
Liu J, Pei H, Mei S, Li J, Zhou L, Xiang H*. 2008. Replication initiator DnaA interacts with an anti-terminator NusG in T. tengcongensisBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 371(3): 573–577.


Pei H, Liu J, Li J, Guo A, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2007Mechanism for the TtDnaA-Tt-oriC cooperative interaction at high temperature and duplex opening at an unusual AT-rich region in Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensisNucleic Acids Research, 35(9): 3087-3099. 
Han J, Lu Q, Zhou L, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2007. Molecular characterization of the phaECHm genes required for biosynthesis of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in the extremely halophilic archaeon Haloarcula marismortui. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(19): 6058-6065.  
Zhou L, Zhou M, Sun C, Xiang H*, Tan H. 2007. Genetic analysis of a novel plasmid pZMX101 from Halorubrum saccharovorum: determination of the minimal replicon and comparison with the related haloarchaeal plasmid pSCM201. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 270(1):104-8.  
Chen S, Liu J, Pei H, Li J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2007Molecular investigation of a novel thermostable glucan phosphorylase from Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensisEnzyme and Microbial Technology , 41(3): 390-396.  


Sun C, Zhou M, Li Y, Xiang H*. 2006. Molecular Characterization of the Minimal Replicon and the Unidirectional Theta Replication of pSCM201 in Extremely Halophilic Archaea. Journal of Bacteriology,188(23): 8136–8144.  


Pei H, Liu J, Cheng Y, Sun C, Wang C, Lu Y, Ding J, Zhou J, Xiang H*. 2005. Expression of SARS-coronavirus nucleocapsid protein in Escherichia coli and Lactococcus lactis for serodiagnosis and mucosal vaccination. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology68(2): 220–227.  
Ren Y, Dai X, Zhou J, Liu J, Pei H, Xiang H*. 2005. Gene expression and molecular characterization of thermostable trehalose phosphorylase in Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensisScience in China Series C: Life Sciences48(3): 221-227.  
Sun C, Li Y, Mei S, Lu Q, Zhou L, Xiang H*. 2005. A single gene directs both production and immunity of halocin C8 in a haloarchaeal strain AS7092. Molecular Microbiology,57 (2):537–549.




Research Interests

Haloarchaea are a distinct evolutionary branch of the Archaea (the third domain of life on Earth). They require high salt concentrations for optimal growth, and thrive in salt lakes, sea salterns and many other hypersaline environments. The research in our laboratory focuses on genetics and metabolism of haloarchaea. We are particularly interested in i) DNA replication and genome stability; ii) Gene regulation and environmental adaptation; iii) CRISPR-Cas system and anti-halovirus; iv) Carbon metabolism and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) biosynthesis; as well as v) Bioremediation by haloarchaea and other halophiles.

For the two haloarchaeal model strains, Haloarcula hispanica and Haloferax mediterranei, we have already determined their complete genome sequences (JB 2011, JB 2012), and have also established high efficient genetic manipulation systems for both species (JGG2011).

In the research of haloarchaeal metabolism, we have identified and characterized for the first time the key enzymes and pathways involved in biosynthesis of the bioplastic PHA in halophilic archaea, including characterization of the haloarchaeal PHA synthases (AEM 2007, JB 2008a, AEM 2010), PHA-specific β-Ketothiolases (AEM 2013a) and acetoacetyl-CoA reductases (AEM 2009), and the PHA granule-associated proteins (AEM 2012, AEM 2015) that are involved in regulation of PHA granule formation in haloarchaea. Multiple propionyl-CoA supplying pathways for poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid-co-3-hydroxyvaleric acid) (PHBV) production (AEM 2013b) and the relationship between PHBV biosynthesis and central metabolism (JPR 2013, AMB 2013) have also been demonstrated. Recently, PHBV mobilization (AEM 2015a, Sci Rep 2016) and its linkage to haloarchaeal-specific acetyl-CoA and propionyl-CoA assimilation (ISME J 2016, AEM 2015b) were also illuminated. These progresses may provide novel insights for future economical production of industry-scale PHAs or tailor-made PHAs (Biomacromolecules 2016) by haloarchaea.

For genetics research of haloarchaea, we have characterized the multiple replication origins of the haloarchaeal replicons and their potential control mechanisms (NAR 2014a, BMC Genomics 2012, FM2014, GBE 2014). We have reported for the first time the activation of a dormant origin in haloarchaeal chromosome (NC 2015), and have also identified the conserved double-strand origins (DSO) for haloarchaeal RCR plasmids (JB 2008b). We have also reported a new paradigm for general transcription factor directed archaeal gene regulation (NAR 2008), and the transcriptional as well as post-transcriptional mechanisms involved in the PTS regulation in haloarchaea (AEM 2014).

For haloarchaeal CRISPR systems, the mechanisms for priming adaptation (NAR 2014b) and self vs viral sequence discrimination (NAR 2014c), and the DNA motif determining accurate repeat duplication (NAR 2016) during CRISPR adaptation were well addressed. A CRISPR–independent Cas6-cleavage-mediated provirus inhibition (JB 2013) was also revealed. These have provided novel insights into the haloarchaeal genome stability as well as the interaction between the CRISPR and halovirus.

In the near future, we will still focus on the genetics and metabolism of haloarchaea at the genome level, towards a comprehensive understanding of the strategy of haloarchaea to the extreme environments and provide insights into the haloarchaeal biology and their ecological function. We will also establish techniques for genome-wide manipulation and high-level fermentation of the halophilic archaea & bacteria, providing novel technology for utilization of halophiles in bioplastic production and in bioremediation.

These projects were funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Ministry of Science & Technology of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Prof. Xiang has been invited to give presentations on a kinds of internatioanl conference such as ISBP, Golden Conference, International Conference on Salt Lake Research, International Congress on Extremophiles, Symposium on Genomics, Stem Cells and Tissue Regeneration and so on.


Prof. Xiang  has built up long-standing collaborations with Dr. Berg IA from Germany, Prof.Shiladitya DasSarma from USA and some domestic professors. Some papers has been published based on the close collaborations with different groups​.



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