Xushuai Zhang has recently been recruited to the CACHE project. Xushuai will be based with our partner CCMAR in Portugal, where he will be working as a technician looking at the regulatory mechanisms of shell formation.
1. Tell us about the research you’ll be doing for CACHE?
I am trying to find out the mechanisms underlying the formation of bivalve shells, by investigating genes that code for cell membrane receptors involved in calcium transport (these receptor genes move calcium across cell membranes to where it is needed in the cell). Firstly, I hope to identify the most highly expressed receptor sequences in the blue mussel from sequencing studies; secondly, I will use these to identify the corresponding proteins that interact with them. Finally, I hope to prove the relationship between the receptors and the proteins that interact with them by inhibiting the expression of the selected receptors to identify how this affects the formation of the shell.
2. What were you doing before you joined CACHE?
I did some molecular biology experiments on lamprey and zebrafish. I successfully edited lamprey genome using the CRISPR/Cas9 system (in other words, I knocked out a gene/stopped it from working). Furthermore, I was successful in that I saw the mutant phenotype of the edited lamprey genome in first generation.
3. Which is your favourite to eat clams, oysters, scallops or mussels? Or not?! If you do, what’s your traditional way of eating them? (eg au natural, with lemon, garlic, butter, etc?)
Oysters are my favourite. Usually I eat oysters with garlic.
4. What’s the thing that you are most looking forward to with CACHE?
It’s a great chance to work with an international team on a very exciting project, but also on a personal level, I hope to escape the lab occasionally and have a chance to go surfing on the beautiful Portuguese coast.
5. What interests and hobbies do you enjoy when you are not being a scientist?
Reading and writing. I hope to be a writer and lecturer.