Ruanbao Zhou, Ph.D.

 (605) 688-5259



  • Postdoctorate, Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University
  • Ph.D., Plant Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • M.S., Plant Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Anhui Normal University (China)
  • B.S., Biology, Anhui Normal University (China)


  • Professor, Microbiology
  • South Dakota State University

Current Research:

Using a synthetic biology approach to develop cellular cyanofactories, these engineered cyanobacteria are able to convert air (CO2 and H20) and water into fuel molecules (e.g. limonene) and high-value chemicals using sunlight. Outstanding students recruited to work on this project will gain extensive hands-on training on biochemistry and molecular biology.

In response to environmental changes, vegetative cells of Anabaena cylindrical can differentiate into three other cell types: a heterocyst (H) for oxic N2-fixation, an enlarged spore called akinete (A) for stress survival, and a terminally tapered cell (T) that is highly active in cell division. Akinetes normally differentiate from vegetative cells adjacent to heterocysts. Heterocysts inhibit nearby cells from differentiating into heterocysts but can induce nearby cells to becom akinetes, a rare embryogenetic induction in prokaryotes. We seek to understand how they do so.