Jinzhong Fu

Associate Professor
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x52715
SSC 1458
SSC 1403/1404

My interests in animals started from my childhood when I used to chase lizards (Eremias argus) in the fields. I pursued this interest as an undergraduate at the Nankai University and then a graduate student at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I subsequently spent five years as an assistant curator of herpetology at the Institute of Zoology (Beijing), which expended my interests in systematics, and eventually led me to the University of Toronto where I conducted my Ph.D. research on the molecular phylogenetics of lacertid lizards. As a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of California (Berkeley), I became more aware of how molecular phylogenetics could be applied to evolutionary biology. Since I arrived at Guelph, my research has focused on molecular phylogenetics and it's application to the study of speciation, sexual selection and conservation.

  • B.Sc. - Tianjin 1985
  • M.Sc. - Chengdu 1988
  • Ph.D. - Toronto 1998


My research aims to understand evolutionary patterns in natural populations and the mechanisms behind them, with an emphasis on historical perspectives.

Adaptation of reptiles and amphibians to high-elevation environments

Elucidating the process of adaptation and understanding its genetic basis is a major mission of modern evolutionary biology. Elevational gradient provides one of the best systems for studying adaptive evolution. We have been working on two groups of poikilothermic animals. All of them are common species at or around the Tibetan Plateau, and are easy to identify and obtain in the wild. 1) Toad-headed lizards of the genus Phrynocephalus are endemic to the central Asia desert and several of them are true high- elevation dwellers (5300m) of the Tibetan Plateau. High elevation species (e.g.Phrynocephalus vlangalii) possess a series of genetic and physiological traits that likely represent adaptation to high-elevation environments. 2) The Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans) occupies several mountain ranges across an extremely large elevational gradient from 0 to 4300m. Some populations have been Plateau dwellers for approximately 2.5 millions of years. It provides an excellent opportunity to conduct intra-specific comparison. We are examining these organisms from morphological, behavioural, physiological and genomic levels.

Speciation processes and phylogenomic/ population genomic analysis

The most fundamental unit of biodiversity is the species, and understanding the speciation process is the key for understanding biodiversity. Phylogenetic analysis creates opportunities to look at species from a historical and evolutionary perspective, and genomic data provide a capacity to examine history at multiple levels, such as genes, populations, and species. We are currently studying a frog species (Odorrana margaratea) with a ring-shaped diversification pattern around the Sichuan Basin at western China. Its small spatial scale (micro ring), abundant populations, existence of multiple hybrid zones, and a clearly illustrated history provide excellent opportunities to examine the evolution of reproductive isolation in face of gene flow.

  • Fu, J., and R. Wen. 2023. Impacts of Quaternary glaciation, geological history and geography on animal species history in continental East Asia: a phylogeographic review. Molecular Ecology. http://doi.org/10.1111/mec.17053
  • Chen, Y., S. Tan, and J. Fu. 2022. Modified metabolism and response to UV rediation: gene expression variations along an elevational gradient in the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans). Journal of Molecular Evolution 90: 389-399. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-022-10070-4
  • Atlas, J. E. and J. Fu. 2021. A re-assessment of positive selection on mitochondrial genomes of high-elevation Phrynocephalus lizards. Journal of Molecular Evolution 89(1-2): 95-102. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-020-09991-9
  • Wen, G. and J. Fu. 2021. Isolation and re-connection: the demographic history and multiple contact zones of the Green Odorous Frog around the Sichuan Basin. Molecular Ecology 30: 4103-4117. DOI: 10.1111/MEC.16021
  • Qiao, L., G. Wen, Y. Qi, B. Lu, J. Hu, Z. Song, and J. Fu. 2018. Evolutionary melting pots and reproductive isolation: A ring-shaped diversification of an odorous frog (Odorrana margaratea) around the Sichuan Basin. Molecular Ecology 27: 4888-4900. DOI: 10.1111/mec.14899.
  • Garcia, V.O., C. Ivy, and J. Fu. 2017. Syntopic frogs reveal different patterns of interaction with the landscape: A comparative landscape genetic study of Pelophylax nigromaculatus and Fejervarya limnocharis from central China. Ecology and Evolution 7:9294-9306. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3459.
  • Yang, W., Y. Qi, B. Lu, Q. Liang, Y. Wu, and J. Fu. 2017. Gene expression variations in high-altitude adaptation: a case study of the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans). BMC Genetics 18: 62. DOI: 10.1186/s12863-017-0529-z.
  • Mitterboeck, T. Fatima, J. Fu, and S. J. Adamovicz. 2016. Rates and patterns of molecular evolution in freshwater vs. terrestrial insects. Genome 59: 968-980. DOI: 10.1139/gen-2016-0030.
  • Yang, W., Y. Qi, and J. Fu. 2016. Genetic signals of high-altitude adaptation in amphibians: a comparative transcriptome analysis. BMC Genetics 17: 134. DOI: 10.1186/s12863-016-0440-z.
  • Qi, Y., B. Lu, H. Gao, P. Hu, and J. Fu. 2014. Hybridization and mitochondrial genome introgression between Rana chensinensis and R. kukunoris. Molecular Ecology 23: 5575-5588. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12960.
  • Lu, B., K. Bi, and J. Fu. 2014. A phylogeographic evaluation of the Amolops mantzorum species group: local coalescence or speciation? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 73: 40-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.01.008.
  • Hudson, C. M. and J. Fu. 2013. Male-biased sexual size dimorphism, resource defense polygyny, and multiple paternity in the Emei moustache toad (Leptobrachium boringii). PLoS ONE 8: e67502. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067502.
  • Han, X. and J. Fu. 2013. Does life history shape sexual size dimorphism in anurans: A comparative analysis. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 27. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-13-27.
  • Noble, D., Y. Qi, and J. Fu. 2010. Species delineation using Bayesian model-based assignment tests: A case study using Chinese toad-headed agamas (genus Phrynocephalus). BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 197. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-197.
  • Urquhart, J., Y. Wang, and J. Fu. 2009. Historical vicariance and male-biased dispersal in the toad-headed lizards Phrynocephalus przewalskii. Molecular Ecology 18: 3714-3729.
  • ZOO*2090 Vertebrate Structure and Function
  • BIOL*2400 Evolution
  • BIOL*3040 Methods in Evolutionary Biology
  • ZOO*4910 Integrative Vertebrate Biology
  • ZOO*4940 Lab Studies in Herpetology

Ruixue Liu (PhD)

Thanuja Fernando (PhD)