Advanced Search



WEI Zhong




Lab of rhizosphere micro-ecology

College of Resources and Environmental Sciences

Nanjing Agricultural University

Weigang No. 1, Nanjing, 210095, China

E-mail :

Office Tel86-025-84396864


I am working in Nanjing Agriculture University as a full professor. Together with my team, I have pioneered during the last 14 years a novel an eco-evolutionary microbiome management framework to control plant soil-borne pathogens. My work has been funded by research councils in China, UK and the Netherlands, in collaboration with industrial stakeholders across the world. I have published over 40 high quality studies as first or corresponding authors, including publications in top-tier journals such as Nature Biotechnology, Science Advances, Nature Microbiology, Ecology Letters, Nature communications and Microbiome. In addition to the scientific advances, I have been granted nine patents on the use of microorganisms in sustainable agriculture. I have been awarded the highly prestigious excellent youth project of the national natural science foundation of China ( 2019), and the first prize of shennong agricultural science and technology as the third person ( 2019), and recently w on the Youth Science and Technology Prize of the China Agricultural Society.

All the achievements have made a new and highly effective disease control strategy by unravelling the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying natural pathogen control by plant-associated microbiomes. This is particularly important for sustainable agriculture as microbiome research is increasingly reaching a dead end of ever more detailed description but with little means to improve it. My work therefore by taking knowledge gleaned from single microbial species and genes to a microbiome-level, have discovered that the type of interactions between microbiome dwellers was more important to prevent pathogen spread than their interactions with the pathogen itself. In particular, microbiomes containing species using different sets of resources, but otherwise highly antagonistic to each other appear to offer the best protection. Together with my team, I built phage-based microbiome editing techniques allowing to cut out unwanted species out of the community, and developed prebiotics treatments increasing the efficiency of the native microbiome. This expertise is now being brought to farmers, helping them develop truly sustainable and efficient crop protection strategies.

I have made good progresses in international cooperation, talent cultivation, public education and academic community services. I have established good cooperation with outstanding scholars from the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Korea and the United States. I have provided 12 Chinese PhD students an opportunity to study abroad in courtesy of China Scholarship Council funding to learn new methods and scientific techniques and has organised more than 20 academic workshops in China. As a teacher, I not only give lectures in my home university, but also recently established an online lecture series for students and the public with more than 30k followers. I also maintain a blog with more than 10k followers, introducing latest research to the community. As a scientist, I try my best to serve for academic communities. For instance, I am associate editor of Soil Ecology Letters and the editorial board member of Microbiome, and Acta Pedological Sinica. I am also the chairman of the Youth Union of Soil Society of Jiangsu Province.

Research & Education Experiences

(1) 2019-09, Professor in College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University

(2) 2018-082018-10, Visiting scholar in Ecology and Biodiversity group, Utrecht University

(3) 2017-032017-05, Visiting scholar in Ecology and Biodiversity group, Utrecht University

(4) 2016-062016-08, Visiting scholar in Ecology and Biodiversity group, Utrecht University

(5) 2015-122019-09, Associate Professor in College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University

(6) 2014-112015-01, Visiting scholar in Ecology and Biodiversity group, Utrecht University

(7) 2012-062015-12, Lecture in College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University

(8) 2007-092012-06, PhD in College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University

(9) 2003-092007-06, Bachelor in College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University

Honors & awards

(1) 2020, Zhong Wei, Youth Science and Technology Prize of the China Agricultural Society

(2) 2019, Zhong Wei, Outstanding Youth Project, Natural Science Foundation of China.

(3) 2019, Zhong Wei, Shennong China Agricultural Science and Technology Award, first prize, 3/20; The establishment and application of the ecological technology to manage the soil microbial flora for improving plant health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

(4) 2018, Zhong Wei, Science and Technology Progress Award of Gansu Province, first prize, 5/15; Optimization and Industrialization of horticultural crop cultivation substrates for non-cultivated soil in Northwest China, People's Government of Gansu Province.

(5) 2017, Zhong Wei, Outstanding Youth Project, Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu province.

(6) 2017, Zhong Wei, Outstanding Young Scientist Award of Dabinong Group

(7) 2016, Zhong Wei, Hayward award, The 6th International Bacterial Wilt Symposium, Toulouse, France.

(8) 2015, Zhong Wei, Young Elite Scientist Sponsorship Program by China Association for Science and Technology.

(9) 2014, Zhong Wei; Travel award, 1st Global Soil Biodiversity Conference, Dijon, France.

Services to interactional and local communities

(1) Associate editor: Soil Ecology Letters, Journal of Tropical biology.

(2) Editorial Board Member: Microbiome, ACTA PEDOLOGICA SINICA.

(3) Reviewers for the following journals: ISME J, Microbiome, Nature Food, New phytologists, Soil biochemistry and Biology, Plant Soil, Applied soil Ecology.

(4) Council member, Soil Society of Jiangsu Province.

(5) The chairman, the Youth Union of Soil Society of Jiangsu Province.

Invited talks in interactional conferences

(1) The miCROPe conference, Vienna, 2022. Keynote.

(2) The 7th International Bacterial Wilt Symposium, Montevideo, 2021, Keynote.

(3) The 4th International Phage Symposium, 2020, Nanjing.

(4) The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Asian Synthetic Biology Association, Chengdu, 2019.

(5) The 6th Asian Conference on Plant Pathology, Jeju, Korea, 2017, Keynote.

(6) The 2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference, Nanjing, 2017.

(7) The 6th International Bacterial Wilt Symposium, Toulouse, 2016.

(8) The 2nd Ecology of Soil Micro-organisms Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, 2015

Selected 15 publications

(1) Shaohua Gu#; Zhong Wei#, *; Zhengying Shao; Ville-Petri Friman; Kehao Cao; Tianjie Yang; Jos Kramer; Xiaofang Wang; Mei Li; Xinlan Mei; Yangchun Xu*; Qirong Shen; Rolf Kümmerli; Alexandre Jousset; Competition for iron drives phytopathogen control by natural rhizosphere microbiomes, Nature Microbiology, 2020, 5:1002-1010.

(2) Xiaofang Wang#; Zhong Wei #,*; Keming Yang; Jiangning Wang; Alexandre Jousset; Yangchun Xu; Qirong Shen*; Ville-Petri Friman*; Phage combination therapies for bacterial wilt disease in tomato, Nature Biotechnology, 2019, 37:1513-1520.

(3) Zhong Wei#; Yian Gu#; Ville-Petri Friman; George A. Kowalchuk; Yangchun Xu*; Qirong Shen*, Alexandre Jousset; Initial soil microbiome composition and functioning predetermine future plant health, Science Advances, 2019, 5: eaaw0759.

(4) Wu Xiong; Yuqi Song; Keming Yang; Yian Gu; Zhong Wei*; George A. Kowalchuk; Yangchun Xu; Alexandre Jousset; Qirong Shen; Stefan Geisen. Rhizosphere protists are key determinants of plant health, Microbiome, 2020, 8:27.

(5) Mei Li#; Zhong Wei #, *; Jianing Wang; Alexandre Jousset; Ville‐Petri Friman; Yangchun Xu; Qirong Shen*; Thomas Pommier; Facilitation promotes invasions in plant‐associated microbial communities, Ecology Letters, 2019, 22: 149-158.

(6) Zhong Wei; Alexandre Jousset*; Plant breeding goes microbial, Trends in Plant Science, 2017, 22:555-558.

(7) Jie Hu; Zhong Wei*; George A. Kowalchuk; Yang-chun Xu; Qi-rong Shen; Alexandre Jousset; Functional diversity and invasion resistance of rhizosphere microbiome increase during plant development, Environ Microbiol, 2020, 22: 5005-5018.

(8) Gu, Yian; Wang, Xiaofang; Yang, Tianjie; Friman, Ville-Petri; Geisen, Stefan; Wei, Zhong*; Xu, Yangchun; Jousset, Alexandre; Shen, Qirong. Chemical structure predicts the effect of plant-derived low molecular weight molecules on soil microbiome structure and function, Functional Ecology, 2020, 34: 2158-2169.

(9) Zhong Wei#; Tianjie Yang#; Ville-Petri Friman; Yangchun Xu; Qirong Shen*; Alexandre Jousset*; Trophic network architecture of root-associated bacterial communities determines pathogen invasion and plant health, Nature communications, 2015 6:8413.

(10) Shaohua Gu#, Tianjie Yang#, Zhengying Shao, Kehao Cao, Alexandre Jousset, Ville-Petri Friman, Cyrus Mallon, Xinlan Mei, Zhong Wei*, Yangchun Xu, Qirong Shen, Thomas Pommie. Siderophore-mediated interactions determine the disease suppressiveness of microbial consortia, mSystem, 2020, 5: e00811-19.

(11) Waseem Raza, Alexandre Jousset, Ville-Petri Friman, Xinlan Mei, Shimei Wang, Zhong Wei*, Shen Qirong. Bacterial community richness mediated production and functioning of volatile organic compounds, Proc. R. Soc. B, 2020: 287: 20200403.

(12) Tianjie Yang; Zhong Wei*; Ville-Petri Friman; Shaohua Gu; George A Kowalchuk; Yangchun Xu; Qirong Shen; Alexandre Jousset; Resource stoichiometry shapes community invasion resistance via productivity-mediated species identity effects, Proc. R. Soc. B, 2019, 285: 20182035.

(13) Zhong Wei; Jie Hu; Yi’an Gu; Shixue Yin; Yangchun Xu*; Alexandre Jousset; Qirong Shen; Ville-Petri Friman; Ralstonia solanacearum pathogen disrupts bacterial rhizosphere microbiome during an invasion. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 2018, 118: 8-17.

(14) Zhong Wei; Jianfeng Huang; Tianjie Yang; Alexandre Jousset; Yangchun Xu*; Qirong Shen; Ville-Petri Friman; Seasonal variation in the biocontrol efficiency of bacterial wilt is driven by temperature-mediated changes in bacterial competitive interactions; J Appl Ecol, 2017, 54: 1440-1448.

(15) Jie Hu#, Zhong Wei#, *; V-P Friman; Shaohua Gu; Xiaofang Wang; Nico Eisenhauer; Tianjie Yang; Jing Ma; Qirong Shen; Yangchun Xu*; Alexandre Jousset; Probiotic diversity enhances rhizosphere microbiome function and plant disease suppression, mBio, 2016, 7: e01790-16.