Xu Wang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Comparative Genomics in Animal Health
Adjunct Faculty Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Dr. Wang received a B.S. in Biological Science in the School of Life Science at Fudan University in 2004 and did his Honors Thesis on genetic diversity of Chinese minority populations and linkage mapping of anthropometric traits in Dr. Li Jin’s lab. Dr. Wang earned his Ph.D. degree in Genetic and Genomics with Dr. Andrew Clark in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University in 2011, with minors in Biometry and Computational Biology. After completing his graduate work, Dr. Wang was appointed as a Research Associate in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and the Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics before coming to Auburn.
Comparative and functional genomics of allelic imbalance: Dr. Wang’s research focuses primarily on the genetic and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in vertebrates and insects, with emphasis on functional, evolutionary and comparative genomic analyses of epigenetically regulated allelic imbalance, such as X chromosome inactivation (XCI) and genomic imprinting, whose misregulation is often involved in human and animal diseases including cancer. To profile allele-specific expression (ASE), allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) and allele-specific histone modifications genome-wide, Dr. Wang uses reciprocal F1 hybrid crosses of inbred strains/species, including lab mouse strains, horse and donkey (known as mule and hinny), cow and bison, two opossum lines, two inbred chicken breeds, African and European bees and two jewel wasp species. Based on this experimental design, Dr. Wang developed and applied a bioinformatic analysis pipeline, and performed next generation sequencing experiments including RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), genomic DNA sequencing (gDNA-seq), whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS-seq), ChIP-seq and ChIP-exo, which led to several new discoveries in genomic imprinting and XCI in different vertebrate species.
Genomics and metagenomics on host-microbial interactions: With previous experience in analyzing metagenomic data of the human gut microbiome in the TwinsUK project, Dr. Wang is interested in identifying the differences in bacteria composition and abundance between normal and diseased animals which are potentially associated with animal diseases. Through the understanding of the function of DNA methylome and epigenome in parasitic insects, Dr. Wang will study the genetic and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in insect vector species, to develop new strategies for pest control and beneficial insect protection. The ultimate goal is to improve the health status of farm animals and companion animals.
Assorted topics in evolutionary genomics: In addition, Dr. Wang is interested in a number of evolutionary puzzles, including but not limited to genetic basis for behavior evolution in the silver farm foxes during artificial selection and domestication, the genetic and epigenetic basis of hybrid dysregulation vs. hybrid vigor, the evolutionary origin of genomic imprinting, the basis of asymmetric post-mating isolation known as Darwin’s Corollary, the evolution of sex-specific alternative splicing network and sexual dimorphisms in insects, cis– vs. trans-regulation of gene expression due to DNA sequence and epigenetic divergence, transgenerational inheritance of the DNA methylome, and the evolution of interaction