Brief Introduction

Prof. Kai Xue obtained his ph.D degree in soil science at Cornell University in 2009 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Institute for Environmental Genomics after that. He joined the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) since 2017 and entered into the newly established tenure-tracked system in 2018. His research focus on soil microbial ecology, including spatial pattern of microbial communities and belowground mechanisms, microbial roles in restoring degraded grassland and regulating ecosystem feedback to global climate change, by using metagenomic techniques (e.g. functional gene microarray and high-throughput sequencing). He published more than 70 papers in academic journals, including PNAS, Nature Climate Change,eLife, mBio,Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Applied and Environment Microbiology.


Cornell University, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Ithaca, NY, USA. Feb, 2009

Ph.D., Major: Soil Science. Minors: Conservation and Sustainable Development & Microbiology

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China. May, 2004

Master of Environmental Science. Outstanding Thesis by committee.

Beijing Univ. of Chemical Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, Beijing, China. May, 2001
Bachelor of Environmental Engineering. Outstanding Thesis Award by college.


Work Experience

University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Professor,  Dec, 2021- Present

Tenure-tracked system, September, 2018- Dec, 2021
Associate Professor,  April, 2017- Dec, 2021

Focusing on soil microbial ecology, especially roles of microbes in restoring degraded grassland in Tibet Plateau, and regulating ecosystem feedback to global climate change.

Institute for Environmental Genomics, Norman, OK, USA
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Feb, 2009-March, 2017

Investigated influences of agriculture managements on crop yield, greenhouse gas emissions, soil attributes and functional genes in microbial community for nutrient cycling. Assessed soil and plant changes induced by aboveground biomass removal for producing biofuel or hay in grassland. Collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams (ecology, modeling, statistics and bioinformatics)  to study ecosystem responses to global climate changes, including soil processes and microorganisms by using metagenomic techniques (i.e. microarray and illumina sequencing).

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA Research Assistant, Aug, 2004-Jan, 2009

Conducted field studies to investigate effects of transgenic corn, Cry3Bb1 Bt corn against corn rootworm, on crop residue decomposition, tissue lignin concentration and associated microbial decomposer communities. Evaluated persistence of insecticidal Cry3Bb1 protein in soils, its within seasonal dynamics and decomposition in Bt corn residues by ELISA. Performed greenhouse experiment to investigate carbon allocation within plant and tissue lignin content in Bt and NonBt corn as infested by corn rootworm . Measured partitioning of photosynthate C to various plant components as short-term C allocation by 13CO2 pulse-labeling system. Investigated public perception towards transgenic food in China.

Teaching Experience

Modern Environmental Microbiology 




(Corresponding author is labeled by “*”, equally contributed authors are labelled by “#” )

Biao Zhang, Kai Xue*, Shutong Zhou, Kui Wang, Wenjing Liu, Cong Xu, Lizhen Cui, Linfeng Li, Qinwei Ran, Zongsong Wang, Ronghai Hu, Yanbin Hao, Xiaoyong Cui, Yanfen Wang. Environmental selection overturns the decay relationship of soil prokaryotic community over geographic distance across grassland biotas. 2022. eLife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.70164

Rémy Beugnon#*, Jianqing Du#, Simone Cesarz , Stephanie D. Jurburg , Zhe Pang, Bala Singavarapu, Tesfaye Wubet, Kai Xue* , Yanfen Wang and Nico Eisenhauer. Tree diversity and soil chemical properties drive the linkages between soil microbial community and ecosystem functioning. ISME Communications,2021.1, 41.

Shutong Zhou, Kai Xue*, Biao Zhang, Li Tang, Zhe Pang, Fang Wang, Rongxiao Che, Qinwei Ran, Anquan Xia, Kui Wang, Linfeng Li, Junfu Dong, Jianqing Du, Ronghai Hu,Yanbin Hao, Xiaoyong Cui, Yanfen Wang. Spatial patterns of microbial nitrogen-cycling gene abundances along a precipitation gradient in various temperate grasslands at a regional scale. Geoderma. 2021. 404:115236.

Ming-Hui Wu#, Sheng-Yun Chen#*, Jian-Wei Chen#, Kai Xue*, Shi-Long Chen, Xiao-Ming Wang, Tuo Chen, Shi-Chang Kang, Jun-Peng Rui, Janice E. Thies, Richard D. Bardgett, Yan-Fen Wang. Reduced microbial stability in the active layer is associated with carbon loss under alpine permafrost degradation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021.118 (25) e2025321118.

Yanfen Wang* and Kai Xue*.Linkage between microbial shift and ecosystem
functionality. Global Change Biology. 2021. 27:3197–3199.

StefanTrogisch*,Xiaojuan Liu*, Gemma Rutten, Kai Xue*,  Jürgen Bauhus, Ulrich Brose, Wensheng Bu, Simone Cesarz, Douglas Chesters, John Connolly, Xiaoyong Cui, Nico Eisenhauer, Liangdong Guo, Sylvia Haider, Werner Härdtle, Matthias Kunz, Lingli Liu, Zeqing Ma, Steffen Neumann, Weiguo Sang, Andreas Schuldt, Zhiyao Tang, Nicole M.van Dam, Goddertvon Oheimbo, Ming-Qiang Wang, Shaopeng Wang, Alexander Weinhold, Christian Wirth, Tesfaye Wubet, Xingliang Xu, Bo Yang, Naili Zhang, Chao-Dong Zhu, Keping Ma, Yanfen Wang, Helge Bruelheide. The significance of tree-tree interactions for forest ecosystem functioning. Basic and Applied Ecology, 2021(1).

Kai Xue*, Joy Van Nostrand, Jizhong Zhou, Silke Neu, Ingo Müller, Laura Giagnoni, Giancarlo Renella*.Phytomanagement reduces metal availability and microbial metal
resistance in a metal contaminated soil. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2020. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01899

Shengyun Chen*#, Xiangfei Li#, Tonghua Wu, Kai Xue*, Dongliang Luo, Xiaoming Wang, Qingbai Wu, Shichang Kang, Huakun Zhou, Dengxian Wei. Soil thermal regime alteration under experimental warming in permafrost regions of the central Tibetan Plateau. Geoderma. 2020. 372. 10.1016/j.geoderma.2020.114397.

Xue, K., Zhang, B,. Zhou, S.T., Ran, Q.W., Tang, L., Che, R.X., Pang, Z., Wang, F., Wang, D., Zhang, J., Jiang, L.L., Hu, R.H., Cui, X.Y., Hao, Y.B., Wang, Y.F.*. Soil microbial communities in alpine grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau and their influencing factors (In Chinese). Chinese Science Bulletin, 2019. 64: 2915, doi: 10.1360/TB-2019-0090

Tang, L.#, Zhong, L.#, Xue, K.*, Wang, S.P.*, Xu, Z.H., Lin, Q.Y., Luo, C.Y., Rui, Y.C., Li, X.Z., Li, M., Liu, W.T., Yang, Y.F., Zhou, J.Z., Wang, Y.F. Warming counteracts grazing effects on the functional structure of the soil microbial community in a Tibetan grassland. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 2019, DOI:

Biao Zhang, Kai Xue*, Shutong Zhou, Rongxiao Che, Jianqing Du, Li Tang, Zhe Pang, FangWang, Di Wang, Xiaoyong Cui, Yanbin Hao and Yanfen Wang*. Phosphorus mediates soil prokaryote distribution pattern along a small-scale elevation gradient in Noijin Kangsang Peak, Tibetan Plateau. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 2019. 95, fiz076.

Xue, K., Zhou, J.Z., Van Nostrand, J.D., Mench, M., Bes, C., Giagnoni, L., Renella, G.*, Functional activity and functional gene diversity of a Cu-contaminated soil remediated by aided phytostabilization using compost, dolomitic limestone and a mixed tree stand. Environmental Pollution 2018. 242:229-238.

Xue, K. #, Yuan, M.T. #, Shi, Z., Qin, Y.J., Deng, Y., Cheng, L., Wu, L.Y., He, Z.L., Van Nostrand, J., Bracho, R., Natali, S., Schuur, E.A.G., Luo, C.W., Konstantinidis, K.T., Wang, Q., Cole, J.R., Tiedje, J.M., Luo, Y.Q., Zhou, J.Z*. Tundra soil carbon is vulnerable to rapid microbial decomposition under climate warming. Nature Climate Change. 2016. doi:10.1038/nclimate2940.

Xue, K.#, Yuan, M.T.#, Xie, J.P,, Li, D.J., Qin,Y.J., Hale, L.E., Wu, L.Y., Deng, Y., He, Z.L., van Nostrand, J.D., Luo, Y.Q., Tiedje, J.M., Zhou, J.Z.*, Annual Removal of Aboveground Plant Biomass Alters Soil Microbial Responses to Warming. mBio 2016, 7(5): e00976-16.

Xue, K., Xie, J.P., Zhou, A.F., Liu, F.F., Li, D.J., Wu, L.Y., Deng, Y., He, Z.L., Van Nostrand, J., Luo, Y.Q., Zhou, J.Z*. Warming Alters Expressions of Microbial Functional Genes Important to Ecosystem Functioning. Frontiers in Microbiology 2016. 7: e3042.

Xue, K., Van Nostrand, J.D., Vangronsveld, J., Witters, J.N., Janssen, J.O., Kumpiene, J., Siebielec, G., Galazka, R., Giagnoni, L., Arenella, M., Zhou, J.Z., Renella, G*. Management with willow short rotation coppice increase the functional gene diversity and functional activity of a heavy metal polluted soil. Chemosphere 2015. 138:469-477.

Xue, K., Diaz, B.R., Thies, J.E*. Stability of Cry3Bb1 protein in soils and its degradation in transgenic corn residues. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 2014.76:119–126.

Xue, K., Wu, L.Y., Deng, Y., He, Z.L., van Nostrand, J., Robertson, P., Schmidt, T. and Zhou, J.Z*. Functional gene differences in soil microbial communities from conventional, low-input and organic farmlands. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2013. 79(4): 1284-1292.

Zhou, J.Z.*, Xue, K.,  Xie, J.P., Deng, Y., Wu, L.Y., Cheng, X.L., Fei, S.F., Deng, S.P.,  He, Z.L., van Nostrand, J. and Luo, Y.Q. Microbial mediation of carbon cycle feedbacks to climate warming. Nature Climate Change 2012. 2: 106—110.

Xue, K., Serohijos, R., Devare, M., Duxbury, J., Lauren, J. and Thies J*. Short-term carbon allocation and root lignin of Cry3Bb Bt and NonBt corn in the presence of corn rootworm. Applied Soil Ecology 2012. 57: 16-22.

Xue, K., Serohijos, R., Devare, M. and Thies, J*. Decomposition Rates and Residue-Colonizing Microbial Communities of Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Protein Cry3Bb-Expressing (Bt) and Non-Bt Corn Hybrids in the Field. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2011. 77(3): 839-846.