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Principal Investigator
Ya-Ping Zhang   China Ph.D. Genetics Zoology  
Title Deputy president, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Principle Investigator
Phone +86 871 68526519
Fax +86 871 68526519
Address NO.21 Qingsong Road, Ciba, Panlong, Kunming, Yunnan, China
Zip Code 650201

Doctor, Principal Investigator; Vice president of Chinese Academy of Sciences; Foreign academician of European Academy of Sciences; Academician of Third World Academy of Sciences; Director of the Academic Committee of the State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology; Head of Molecular Evolution and Genomic Diversity Laboratory; Associate editor of the Genome Biol Evol; Editorial board of the Hum Mol Genet, Zool Res, Chinese Sci Bull, Sci Rep.

Professor Zhang established the first wildlife germplasm bank in China and serves as the director of the animal branch of Southwest China Wildlife Germplasm Bank, which is the first major scientific and technological infrastructure in the field of life science in China. He promoted the construction of the Southwest Research Center for Pig Molecular Breeding and Translational Medicine. This provides technology platform supporting the national pig breeding industry development and research, translational application of large animal medical models, as well as the creation of innovative breeding materials and disease models. By using the conserved resources, the evolution and mechanism of biodiversity are mainly studied at the molecular level, and clarified some important problems in the system and evolution of primate, carnivorous, amphibian and reptile, and other animal groups.

Professor Zhang research have revealed some principles behind the evolution of East Asian population and the evolutionary process of some ethnic groups. The genetic diversity of wild and domestic animals has been systematically studied. His study revealed no correlation between poor genetic diversity and endangered species. In addition, the East Asian origin of domestic dogs was identified, which proved that East Asia was an important region for the domestication of domestic animals. The study of genome evolution under natural and artificial selection has revealed some important genetic mechanisms of animal adaptation evolution and the formation of economic traits in livestock and poultry. Professor Zhang has published more than 300 SCI papers and one monograph in international journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Genetics and PNAS. He has won more than 20 National, Provincial, and Ministerial Science and Technology Awards. These include the Second Prize of National Natural Science Award, the first Prize of Changjiang Scholar Achievement Award, the Yunnan Provincial Science and Technology Outstanding Contribution Award, and the Ho Leung Ho Li Foundation Science and Technology Progress Award. For his outstanding contributions in the field of biodiversity research, Professor Zhang received the Biodiversity Leadership Award, an important international Award, and became the first recipient in Asia. He jointly launched the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL) and made China one of the four nodes in the world. Professor Zhang led the organization of large-scale international cooperation such as the World Amphibious Reptile DNA Barcode Project (Cold Code) and the International Alliance for Domestic Dog Genome Research (Dog10K). He participated in the Ten Thousand Vertebrate Genome Project (Genome 10K) on behalf of China, which has had a wide International impact.

Ranked 9th in Genetic and Molecular Biology in China in 2022 (Research. com)

Ranked 8th among Chinese scientists in the field of biology in 2022 (Global Scholar Pool)

Elected as one of the first batch of Distinguished Fellows of the International Biogeography Society in 2022


Education and Appointments

1982-1986   B.S. in Biochemistry, Fudan University

1986-1991   Ph.D. in Animal Genetics, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

1991-1992   Assistant Professor, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

1992-1995   Postdoctoral fellow, San Diego Zoo, Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species

1995-2000   Professor & Director, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

1996-2005   Vice Director, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

2005-2012.4  Director, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

2003-        Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences  Distinguished Professor, Yunnan University

2007.11-     Academician of Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)

2008-2016   Director, State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution

2012.01-     Vice President, Chinese Academy of Sciences

2018-        Foreign academician of the European Academy of Sciences


Students training:

Professor Zhang has supervised 49 PHD students, 13 master students and 8 post-doctoral fellows in Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Among them, two were awarded the National Excellent doctoral thesis, four were awarded the excellent doctoral thesis of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and two were awarded the President's Special Award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

  Social service:

2013-        Editorial Board member of Human Molecular Genetics, Zoological Research,  Biodiversity Science, Integrative Zoology

2021-        Chairman of China's National Commission on Man and the Biosphere

2022-        Editor-in-Chief of Current Zoology

   Research Interests:

In recent years, domestic animals have been used as model systems to focus on the following research:

1. Molecular basis of complex trait inheritance

During early domestication and recent rapid breed selection, domestic animals show abundant phenotypic diversity while the overall genetic diversity decreases, which provides key materials for studying the genetic mechanism of complex traits. The subject group uses emerging technologies such as population genomics, 3D genomics, single-cell mapping, gene editing and artificial intelligence to systematically and deeply analyze the molecular basis of complex trait inheritance mainly on important economic traits and advanced social behaviors of domestic animals. The related research work and its results will serve the seed industry innovation and large animal disease model creation and translational medicine application.


2. Genetic breeding and new variety creation

Focusing on the major strategic needs of the national "seed industry innovation", genetic and breeding research has been carried out for important domestic animals such as pigs and chickens, and new genes regulating important economic traits have been found. To study the effect of hybrid breeding system on the formation of phenotypic traits based on the resource genome interaction network of domestic animal breeds. Multi-omics techniques and methods were used to analyze the molecular regulatory network formed by traits. The construction of new molecular module breeding materials and the creation of new varieties were carried out by means of gene editing and core group precision design.


3. Establishment and application of animal models of human social disorders

As the first domesticated animal, domestic dogs share potential mental diseases and disease-causing genes with humans and have cross-species social-emotional communication with humans. The research group focuses on major human mental diseases such as autism, obsessional disorder, and depression, and uses domestic dogs as the main animal model to explore the genetic basis and neurobiological mechanism affecting the behavior of social disorders, providing strong support for disease diagnosis, drug development, medical devices, and intervention treatment development.

  Projects and Funds:

Key projects in recent years

1. STI2030-Major Projects, "Research on Neural Circuit Mechanism and Intervention of Social Disorder", 2021.12-2026.11

2. Kunming Spring City Plan High-level Innovation and Entrepreneurship Team Project "Animal Model and Translational Medicine Application", 2022.06-2027.05

3. Key Research and development project of Yunnan Province "Development and application of molecular detection and gene editing technology", 2022.01-2024.12

4. Key Research and Development Program task of the Ministry of Science and Technology "Molecular Regulatory Network for the Formation of High yield, high quality and High Efficiency Traits of Pigs", 2021.12-2026.11

5. Class A Pilot Sub-project of Chinese Academy of Sciences "Molecular Basis of High Yield and High Quality Traits of Pigs", 2019.11-2024.10

6. The Second Scientific research project of the Ministry of Science and Technology on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, "Investigation, Mining and Utilization of Germplasm Resources of Endemic domestic Animals on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau", "Construction of National Animal Resources Sharing Platform on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau", 2019.11-2024.10

7. Class A Pilot Special Sub-project of Chinese Academy of Sciences "Adaptation of Domesticated Animals and Plants to Alpine Environment and Utilization of Genetic Resources", 2018.03-2023.02

  Category of Experts:
Academician, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Foreign academician, European Academy of Sciences; Academician, Third World Academy of Sciences; Recipient of National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars; (New Century) National candidate of Millions of Talents Project; Experts enjoying special government allowance, The State Council of China; Provincial and ministerial level experts with outstanding contributions
  Public Services:


Biodiversity Leadership Awards, Bay and Paul Foundations, USA, 2002



National Prizes

Natural Science Prizes of China, Third Grade, 1997 (Cellular and Molecular Evolution of endemic and rare animals in China)

Natural Science Prizes of China, Second Grade, 2006 (Mitochondrial Genomic Diversity and History of Human Population in East Asia)

Natural Science Prizes of China, Second Grade, 2014 (Genomic diversity and the evolution of Asian populations)


Province Prizes

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 1996 (Molecular evolution of genus Macaca)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 2001 (Study on the biology of Yunnan Snub-nosed monkey)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 2005 (Mitochondrial Genomic Diversity and History of Human Population in East Asia)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 2010 (Molecular Phylogeny of Eutheria (Placental Mammals)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, Top Grade, 2013 (Genome Diversity and Evolution of Asian)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 2013 (Molecular mechanism of adaptive evolution of animals)

Natural Science Prizes of Yunnan Province, First Grade, 2020 (Origin and domestication of domestic animals)


Individual Awards

Pacesetter for Young Scientists & Technologies of China, the Government of China, 1994

The 3rd Prizes for Young Scientists of China, the Government of China, 1996

Ho Leung Ho Lee Prize for Science and Technology, Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation, 2004

Prizes for Innovation of Life Sciences (Conference of Global Chinese biological scientist), 2004

May 4th Youth Medal of China, 2004

Prizes of Outstanding Contribution for Science & Technologies of Yunnan Province, 2005

ChangJiang River Scholar Accomplishment Award, First Grade, 2006

The 2nd Achievement Award for Life Sciences of Tan Jiazhen, 2009 

  Selected Publications:

Representative Paper (Part)

Biodiversity pattern, formation, and evolution


1.         Ryder OA, McLaren A, Brenner S, Zhang YP, Benirschke K. Ecology - DNA banks for endangered animal species. Science, 2000, 288:275-277.

2.         Murphy WJ, Eizirik E, Johnson WE, Zhang YP, Ryder OA, O'Brien SJ. Molecular phylogenetics and the origins of placental mammals. Nature, 2001, 409:614-618.

3.         Zhang JZ, Zhang YP, Rosenberg HF. Adaptive evolution of a duplicated pancreatic ribonuclease gene in a leaf-eating monkey. Nature Genetics, 2002, 30:411-415.

4.         Liu JX#, Gao TX*, Wu SF, Zhang YP*. Pleistocene isolation in the northwestern Pacific marginal seas and limited dispersal in a marine fish, Chelon haematocheilus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1845). Molecular Ecology, 2007, 16:275-288.

5.         Shen YY#, Liang L, Zhu ZH, Zhou WP, Irwin DM, Zhang YP*. Adaptive evolution of energy metabolism genes and the origin of flight in bats. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010, 107:8666-8671.

Origin and domestication of domestic animals 

1.         Savolainen P, Zhang YP, Luo J, Lundeberg J, Leitner T. Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs. Science, 2002, 298:1610-1613.

2.         Pang JF#, Kluetsch C#, Zou XJ#, Zhang AB#, Luo LY, Angleby H, Ardalan A, Ekstrom C, Skollermo A, Lundeberg J, Matsumura S, Leitner T, Zhang YP*, Savolainen P*. mtDNA data indicate a single origin for dogs south of Yangtze River, less than 16,300 years ago, from numerous wolves. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2009, 26:2849-2864.

3.         Wang GD#, Zhai WW#, Yang HC, Fan RX, Cao X, Zhong L, Wang L, Liu F, Wu H, Cheng LG, Poyarkov AD, Poyarkov NA, Tang SS, Zhao WM, Gao Y, Lv XM, Irwin DM, Savolainen P, Wu CI*, Zhang YP*. The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans. Nature Communications, 2013, 4: 1860

4.         Wang GD#, Zhai WW#, Yang HC#, Wang L#, Zhong L, Liu YH, Fan RX, Yin TT, Zhu CL, Poyarkov AD, Irwin DM, Hytonen MK, Lohi H, Wu CI, Savolainen P*, Zhang YP*. Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world. Cell Research, 2016, 26:21-33.

5.         Liu YP#, Wu GS#, Yao YG, Miao YW, Luikart G, Baig M, Beja-Pereira A, Ding ZL, Palanichamy MG, Zhang YP*. Multiple maternal origins of chickens: out of the Asian jungles. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2006, 38:12-19.

6.         Miao YW#, Peng MS#, Wu GS, Ouyang YN, Yang ZY, Yu N, Liang JP, Pianchou G, Beja-Pereira A, Mitra B, Palanichamy MG, Baig M, Chaudhuri TK, Shen YY, Kong QP, Murphy RW, Yao YG, Zhang YP*. Chicken domestication: an updated perspective based on mitochondrial genomes. Heredity, 2013, 110:277-282.

7.         Wang MS#, Thakur M#, Peng MS#, Jiang Y#, Frantz LAF#, Li M, Zhang JJ, Wang S, Peters J, Otecko NO, Suwannapoom C, Guo X, Zheng ZQ, Esmailizadeh A, Hirimuthugoda NY, Ashari H, Suladari S, Zein MSA, Kusza S, Sohrabi S, Kharrati-Koopaee H, Shen QK, Zeng L, Yang MM, Wu YJ, Yang XY, Lu XM, Jia XZ, Nie QH, Lamont SJ, Lasagna E, Ceccobelli S, Gunwardana HGTN, Senasige TM, Feng SH, Si JF, Zhang H, Jin JQ, Li ML, Liu YH, Chen HM, Ma C, Dai SS, Bhuiyan AFH, Khan MS, Silva GLLP, Le TT, Mwai OA, Ibrahim MNM, Supple M, Shapiro B, Hanotte O, Zhang GJ, Larson G, Han JL*, Wu DD*, Zhang YP*. 863 genomes reveal the origin and domestication of chicken. Cell Research, 2020, 38: 693-701.

8.         Li J#, Yang H, Li JR, Li HP, Ning T, Pan XR, Shi P*, Zhang YP*. Artificial selection of the melanocortin receptor 1 gene in Chinese domestic pigs during domestication. Heredity, 2010, 105:274-281.

9.         Zhou ZY#, Li AM#, Otecko NO, Liu YH, Irwin DM, Wang L, Adeola AC, Zhang JY, Xie HB, Zhang YP*. PigVar: a database of pig variations and positive selection signatures. Database-the Journal of Biological Databases and Curation, 2017, 1-10.

10. Xie HB#*, Wang LG#, Fan CY#, Zhang LC#, Adeola CA, Yin X, Zeng ZB*, Wang LX*, Zhang YP*. Genetic architecture underlying nascent speciation of Eurasian domestic pigs. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2020, 38:3556-3566

11. Li JB#, Wang LG#, Yu DW#, Hao JF#, Zhang LC#, Adeola CA, Mao BY, Gao Y, Wu SF, Zhu CL,Zhang YQ, Ren JL, Mu CG, David M. Irwin, Wang LX*, Hai T*, Xie HB*, Zhang YP*. Single-cell RNA-sequencing Reveals Thoracolumbar Vertebra Heterogeneity and Rib-genesis in Pigs. Genomics Proteomics & Bioinformatics, 2021, 19:423-436.

12. Xie HB#, Yan C#, Adeola A.C.#, Wang K#, Huang CP#, Xu MM, Qiu Q, Yin X, Fan CY, Ma YF, Yin TT, Gao Y, Deng JK, Okeyoyin A.O., Oluwole O.O., Omotosho O,M.O. Okoro M.O.V, Omitogun G.O., Dawuda P.M., Olaogun S.C., Nneji L.M., Ayoola A.O., Sanke O.J., Luka P.D., Okoth E, Lekolool I, Mijele D, Bishop R.P., Han JL*, Wang W*, Peng MS*, Zhang YP*.African Suid Genomes Provide Insights into the Local Adaptation to Diverse African Environments. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2022, 39(12):msac256.

Human genetics and population history

1.         Yao YG, Kong QP, Bandelt HJ, Kivisild T, Zhang YP*. Phylogeographic differentiation of mitochondrial DNA in Han Chinese. American Journal of Human Genetics, 2002, 70:635-651.

2.         Kong QP#*, Bandelt HJ, Sun C, Yao YG, Salas A, Achilli A, Wang CY, Zhong L, Zhu CL, Wu SF, Torroni A, Zhang YP*. Updating the East Asian mtDNA phylogeny: a prerequisite for the identification of pathogenic mutations. Human Molecular Genetics, 2006, 15:2076-2086.

3.         Yang XY#, Allah Rakh#, Chen W, Hou JZ, Qi XB, Shen QK, Dai SS, Sulaiman X, Abdulloevich NT, Afanasevna ME, Ibrohimovich KB, Chen X, Yang WK, Adnan A, Zhao RH, Yao YG, Su B, Peng MS*, Zhang YP*.Tracing the genetic legacy of the Tibetan Empire in the Balti. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2020,38:1529-1536.

4.         Dai SS#, Sulaiman X#, Isakova J#, Xu WF#, Abdulloevich NT, Afanasevna ME, Ibrohimovich KB, Chen X, Yang WK, Wang MS, Shen QK, Yang XY, Yao YG, Aldashev AA, Saidov A, Chen W, Cheng LF*, Peng MS*, Zhang YP*. The genetic echo of the Tarim mummies in modern Central Asians. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2022,39(9):msac179.

 Scan the QR code to obtain the full list of papers

Research Progress Report (Part)

1.         非洲野生猪科动物遗传资源挖掘

2.         中亚人群迁徙和混合历史

3.         家猪胸腰椎发育关键基因Hoxa10

4.         家犬适应欧洲牛奶饮食的遗传机制(

5.   驯化下早期物种形成的基因组调控机制

  Research Team:


Dr. Min-Sheng Peng, Professor (

Dr. Hai-Bing Xie, Associate Professor (

Dr. Zhong-Yin Zhou, Associate Professor (

Dr. Yan-Hu Liu, Associate Professor (

Dr. Adeniyi C. Adeola, Associate Professor (

Dr. Jin-Xiu Li, Assistant Professor (

Dr. Jian-Bo Li, Research Assistant (

Dr. Xian-Ci Xue, Research Assistant (

Dr. Yun-Yu, Research Assistant (

Dr. Yi-Qiao Wu, Research Assistant (

Dr. Cheng Ma, Research Assistant (



Dr. Yun Gao, Professor (

Dr. Ting-Ting Yin, Senior Engineering (

Ms. Chun-Ling Zhu, Experimentalist (

Mr. Jia-Kun Deng, Engineer (

Ms. Guo-Li Xie, Engineer (

Ms. Shu-Run Zhang, Assistant Experimentalist (

Mr. Ru-Nian Wu, Assistant Engineer (

Ms. Yun-Chun Zhang, Assistant Engineer (

Mr. Xiao-Yang, Assistant Engineer (

Ms. Xuan-Jing Yu, Assistant Engineer (

Mr. Zhao-Pu, Assistant Engineer (

Ms. Li-Jiao Gu, Assistant Engineer (

Mr. Xie LZ, Assistant Engineer (


Graduate students

Doctoral students

SS Dai, 2017; C Yan, 2018; MM Xu, 2018; YD Zhang, 2018; YJ Li, 2019; X Wang, 2019; BW Zhou, 2019; L Odongo, 2019; J Li, 2020; X Liu, 2020; WJ Kong, 2020; R Wang, 2020; WT Qin, 2021; X Shi, 2021; TP Shi, 2021; L Tao, 2021; C Guo, 2021; YB Tong, 2022; YH Xiao, 2022; YL Yang, 2022; XY Jiang, 2022


Master students

FJ Wang, 2019; RR Wu, 2020; MT Ding, 2020; MN Cao, 2020; LS Liu, 2021; DJ Ceng, 2021; XC Song, 2021; AS Huang, 2022; X Chen, 2022; M Muthoni, 2022

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