Jianmin Zhong

Professor - Microbiology and Cellular and Molecular Biology

Jianmin Zhong
(707) 826-5554
SciB 220

Research Interests: Using microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetic approaches to uncover the nature of the symbiotic relationship between bacterial symbionts and Ixodes pacificus tick host.


BA (1988) Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University
MS (1991) Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University
PhD (2001) Univ. of Tennessee Health Science Center

Courses Taught

General Microbiology
Principles of Biology
Medical Microbiology


Ticks are a major vector of arthropod-borne infections and transmit a wide variety of pathogens. Tick-borne diseases continue to cause severe illness and death in otherwise healthy adults and children, thus tick control remains as a major challenge on a global basis. One of the biggest gaps is our lack of understanding of the biology of endosymbiotic bacteria and physiology of ticks. Little is known about the nutritional interactions between bacteria and ticks. I propose to use microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetic approaches to uncover the nature of the symbiotic relationship between Rickettsia monacensis strain Humboldt, which was discovered by our lab in 2011, and Ixodes pacificus tick host. The outcomes of this proposal will give insights on designing novel tick control measures by suppressing tick host population, with an ultimate goal of decreasing incidence of tick-borne diseases. 


# HSU undergraduate student * HSU graduate student 

  • A Bodnar, J*, Fitch, S#, Sanchez, J#, Lesser, M#, Baston, DS, and Zhong, J. 2020.  GTP Cyclohydrolase I Activity from Rickettsia monacensis Strain Humboldt, a  Rickettsial Endosymbiont of Ixodes pacificus. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 4(4):280-287.  

  • Alowaysi M*, Chen J*, Stark S#, Teague K*, LaCourse M*, Proctor J#, Vigil K*,  Corrigan J*, Harding A#, Li L#, Kurtti T, and Zhong J. 2019. Isolation and  Characterization of a Rickettsia from the Ovary of a Western Blacklegged Tick,  Ixodes pacificus. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 10(4):918-923. 

  • Bodnar JL*, Fitch S#, Rosati A#, Zhong J. 2018. The folA gene from the Rickettsia endosymbiont of Ixodes pacificus encodes a functional dihydrofolate reductase  enzyme. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 9(3): 443-449. 

  • Bagheri G*, Lehner JD#, Zhong J. 2017. Enhanced detection of Rickettsia species in  Ixodes pacificus using highly sensitive fluorescence in situ hybridization coupled  with Tyramide Signal Amplification. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 8(6):915-921. 

  • Hunter DJ#, Torkelson JL*, Bodnar J*, Mortazavi JB, Laurent T#, Deason J#,  Thephavongsa K#, and Zhong J. 2015. The rickettsia endosymbiont of Ixodes  pacificus contains all the genes of de novo folate biosynthesis. PLOS ONE. 10(12):e0144552. 

  • Wu D., Kou J., Zhang H., Zhou H., Monagin C., Zhong J., Huang P., Ke C. and Lin J. 2015. Scrub typhus, a disease with increasing threat in Guangdong, China. PLOS  One. 10(2):e0113968. 

  • Kurlovs AH*, Li J#, Cheng D#, Zhong J. 2014. Ixodes pacificus ticks maintain  embryogenesis and egg hatching after antibiotic treatment of Rickettsia endosymbiont. PLoS One. 9(8):e104815.  

  • Cheng D#, Lane RS, Moore BD*, Zhong J. 2013. Host blood meal-dependent  growth ensures transovarial transmission and transstadial passage of Rickettsia sp.  phylotype G021 in the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). Ticks Tick  Borne Dis. 4(5):421-6.  

  • Cheng D#, Vigil K*, Schanes P#, Brown RN, Zhong J. 2013. Prevalence and burden  of two rickettsial phylotypes (G021 and G022) in Ixodes pacificus from California  by real-time quantitative PCR. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 4(4):280-7. 

  • Cheng D#, Lane RS, and Zhong J. 2012. Field and laboratory studies on the  transmission of the spotted fever group Rickettsia sp. phylotype G021 by the  western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). Proc Pap Annu Conf Calif Mosq  Control Assoc. 80:123-127. 

  • Phan JN#, Lu CR, Bender WG#, Smoak RM 3rd#, Zhong J. 2011. Molecular  detection and identification of Rickettsia species in Ixodes pacificus in California.  Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 11(7):957-61.  

  • Zhong J, Jasinskas A, and Barbour AG. 2007. Antibiotic Treatment of the Tick  Vector Amblyomma americanum Reduced Reproductive Fitness. PLoS ONE.  2:e405.

  • Jasinskas A, Zhong J, and Barbour AG. 2007. Highly prevalent Coxiella sp.  bacterium in the tick vector Amblyomma americanum. Appl Environ Microbiol.  73(1): 334-336.

  • Zhong J, Skouloubris S, Dai Q, Myllykallio H, and Barbour AG. 2006. Function  and evolution of plasmid-borne genes for pyrimidine biosynthesis in Borrelia spp. J Bacteriol. 188(3):909-918. 

  • Zhong J and Barbour AG. 2004. Cross-species Hybridization of a Borrelia  burgdorferi DNA Array Reveals Infection- and Culture-associated Genes of the  Unsequenced Genome of the Relapsing Fever Agent Borrelia hermsii. Mol  Microbiol. 51(3):729-748.

  • Putteet-Driver AD, Zhong J, Barbour AG. 2004. Transgenic Expression of RecA of  the Spirochetes Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia hermsii in Escherichia coli Revealed Differences in DNA Repair and Recombination Phenotypes. J Bacteriol.  186(8):2266-2274. 

  • Zhong J, Douglas AL, and Hatch TP. 2001. Characterization of Integration Host  Factor (IHF) Binding Upstream of the Cysteine-Rich Protein operon (omcAB)  Promoter of Chlamydia trachomatis LGV Serovar L2. Mol Microbiol. 41: 451-462. 

  • Zhong J and Wen TW. 1993. Purification and Physicochemical Characterization of  Der f I Allergen. Chinese Journal of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases. 11(3):  206-208.

  • Zhong J and Wen TW. 1993. The Immunochemical Characterization of Der f I  Allergen. Acta Academiae Medicinae Shanghai. 20(5): 355-358.

  • Zhong J and Wen TW. 1992. Advances in the Immunological Research of the  House Dust Mites. Guo Wai Yi Xue Ji Sheng Chong Fen Ce. 19(5): 193-196. Wen TW, Cai L, Wang H, and Zhong J. 1991. Mite Prevalence and Mite Sensitivity  in China. J Korean Society Allergology. 11(2).suppl: 89-101. 


Zhong, J. 2012. Coxiella-like endosymbionts. In Toman R, Heinzen RA, Samuel  JE, and Mege JL (ed.). Coxiella burnetii: Recent advances and new perspectives in  research of the Q fever bacterium. 984:365-79. Springer SBM, New York, NY  (ISBN: 978-94-007-4314-4).

Graduate Students

Current: Brandon Hill, Erin Trent


  • Maryam Alowaysi
  • Ghazaleh Bagheri
  • Junyan Chen
  • James Bodnar
  • Jeremy Corrigan
  • Taylor Howe
  • Andre Kurlovs
  • Christina Porras
  • Katie Vigil