Xueping Zhou was born on 4 July, 1965 in Suzhou, China. He completed his B.S. degree in 1986, the MS degree in 1989 and the PhD degree in 1992 under the direction of Professor Zhongda Fang in the Department of Plant Protection, Nanjing Agricultural University. Then, he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Zhejiang Agricultural University with Professor Debao Li and was appointed as an Associate Professor in the Institute of Biotechnology in 1994. From 1996 to 1997, he took a leave at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee, UK with Professor Bryan Harrison to initiate studies of cassava mosaic and cotton leaf curl diseases. Dr. Zhou was promoted to full professor in 1997, and after 1998, held successive split appointments in Zhejiang University as Vice Dean, Acting Dean, and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biotechnology. In 2013, he accepted his current position as Director of the Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China.
In applied research, Dr. Zhou raised sensitive monoclonal antibodies against 40 viruses causing important diseases, and used these antibodies to design sensitive serological methods for virus detection in crops and vectors, and to implement disease control measures. For example, Dr. Zhou provided leadership that reduced rice stripe virus (RSV) disease to low levels by using virus detection and control methods that he pioneered. He first found that RSV overwinters on wheat in China, and then instituted multifaceted controls that included reducing wheat cultivation in major overwintering sites, selective pesticide applications in the spring to eradicate planthopper vectors and interfere with migrations from overwintering sites, postponed rice planting to avoid vector migration peaks, and protected rice seedlings with vector resistant films. Consequently, the incidence of RSV and the proportion of viruliferous planthoppers in rice fields gradually declined through 2013 when RSV infections were rare in rice fields.
Dr. Zhou’s extensive fundamental research has focused on identification and elucidation of molecular functions of geminiviruses and their associated DNA satellites. He has identified 41 geminiviruses, 32 of which are distinct species, and demonstrated that 17 geminiviruses are associated with a novel type of DNA satellite, designed betasatellites, that have co-evolved with their viral DNAs. Dr. Zhou’s early research showed that geminivirus variants have heterogeneous genomes with quasi-species characteristics and mutation rates similar to those of RNA viruses, and that most geminiviruses in China originate by recombination. More recently he has analyzed on betasatellite encodedβC1 protein interactions that affect host gene silencing. These findings show that the βC1 protein interacts with a host methyltransferase co-factor to suppress methylation activities that interfere with epigenetic modifications of the viral genome. Dr. Zhou also demonstrated that a Nicotiana benthamiana calmodulin-like protein is up-regulated by βC1 to affect gene silencing by repression of an RNA-dependent RNA- polymerase 6 in the RNA silencing pathway. He has also identified host defense responses in which a tobacco E3 ligase interacts with the βC1 protein to mediate ubiquitination and βC1 degradation through the ubiquitin/26S proteasome system. In addition, he discovered that a tomato SUCROSE-NONFERMENTING1-related kinase can phosphorylate the βC1 protein to interfere with gene silencing suppression. In cooperation with entomologists, Dr. Zhou has shown that βC1 also suppresses jasmonic acid (JA) responses to permit increased whitefly multiplication and population dynamics that facilitate geminivirus spread.
Dr. Zhou is highly committed to education of students and has trained numerous graduate students (108) and postdoctoral associates (16), who have gone on to scientific careers in academia or various plant pathology disciplines. He has also developed graduate student courses on Plant Virology, Genetic Engineering Manipulation, and Advanced Plant Pathology, and undergraduate courses on Principles of Molecular Biology.
Dr. Zhou has an exemplary record of professional service as the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biotechnology at Zhejiang University and as Director of the Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests. His contributions to the plant pathology community include service as councilor of the International Society for Plant Pathology and a governing board member of the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences. He facilitated international interactions as co-chair of the scientific committee of the 10th International Congress of Plant Pathology, chairman of the organizing committee of the 7th International Geminivirus Symposium and the 5th International ssDNA Comparative Virology Workshop, chairman of the organizing committee of the 5th, 6th and 7th Hangzhou International Symposium on Plant Pathology and Biotechnology, and co-chair of the organizing committee of the 3rd Beijing International Symposium on Molecular Plant Pathology. Dr. Zhou has served as an editorial board member for more than 15 journals, including Annual Review of Phytopathology, Journal of Integrative Agriculture, Journal of General Virology, Virology, and is a section editor for the Virology Journal. Since 2010, Dr. Zhou has hosted visits of more than 50 scientists from the USA and Europe to introduce Chinese scientists and their research activities, and these visits have resulted in several research collaborations. In addition, he has visited the USA and undeveloped nations seeking cooperation with Chinese scientists. These visits have resulted several collaborations in the USA, and development of integrated pest management programs in rice and maize in Laos and Myanmar and nematode control strategies in East Africa.
In summary, Dr. Zhou has outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching and administration. His research record is diverse in its approaches to disease management and his fundamental studies have uncovered novel findings that have expanded our understanding of geminiviruses and their pathogenesis. Dr. Zhou’s teaching has produced students with advanced knowledge of plant pathology, and his administrative activities have led to international interactions with APS that have advanced our profession.