Professor Wei Huang

Wei imageQualifications

PhD, MSc, BSc


Dr Wei Huang is an associate professor on synthetic biology. His main research interests include: 1) Synthetic biology (SimCells, biosensors and bioenergy); 2) Single cell Raman biotechnology (Raman activated cell sorting for single cell -omics). 


  • Editor for Microbial Biotechnology
  • EPSRC Fellowship on Synthetic Biology
  • Developing SimCells (simple and simulated cells) for synthetic biology
  • One of pioneers studying microbes at single cell level using Raman micro-spectroscopy
  • Pioneer employing ultrasound to transfer DNA to bacterial cells
  • Biosensor design and application

Current projects 

  • EPSRC, Fellowship for synthetic biology, PI, Development of SimCells as building blocks for synthetic biology. 2014-2019.
  • NERC seedcorn, LinkPI: Linking Phenotype function with Identity: a novel integrated single-cell technology and metagenomics approach. 2018-2020.
  • ME Association project. CFS/ME diagnosis by single cell Raman technology. 2018-2019. 
  • BBSRC sLoLa, Co-I, Engineering new capacities for solar energy utilisation in bacteria (PI: Prof Neil Hunter, University of Sheffield). 2015-2020
  • EPSRC, Co-I, Liquid Fuel and bioEnergy Supply from CO2 Reduction (PI: Prof Keith Scott, Newcastle University). 2016-2020

Past projects 

  • EPSRC Flashlight Synthetic Biology fund, shared PI, Engineering a semi-biotic immune system. 2010-2015.
  • NERC, Co-I, Biogeochemical cycling of N-osmolytes in the surface ocean (PI: Dr Yin Chen, Warwick University). 2014-2017.
  • EU grant ECOWATER, USFD PI, Shared with Corus Ltd and CSM. 2010-2013
  • Royal Society Research fund 2009/R2, PI, Biosensor cell arrays for monitoring environmental pollution. 2010
  • NERC, Innovative A, PI, Novel biosensor for genotoxicity detection.2010
  • EPSRC, KTA fund, PI, Development of bacterial biosensors. 2009
  • NERC grant, PI, Interaction of nanoparticles with microbial populations during particle transport. 2007
  • NERC, Innovative Grant, New Concept of Biosensors. 2005-2006 
  • EC FP7, Co-I, Soil transformations in European catchments (PI: Prof Steve Banwart, University of Sheffield). 2009-2014
  • EPSRC, Co-I, BioEngineering from first principles  (PI: Prof Steve Banwart, University of Sheffield). 2010


  • C10: Engineering Principles for Synthetic Biology
  • C9: Environmental Engineering
  • B2: Engineering, sustainability and the environment

Selected Publications (* corresponding author)

  • Fan C., Wu Y.H., Decker C., Rohani R., Gesell Salazar M., Ye H., Cui Z., Schmidt F., Huang W.E.*. Defensive Function of Transposable Elements in Bacteria. (2019) ACS Synthetic Biology 8:2141-2151.
  • Chen, J.X., Steel, H., Wu, Y-H, Wang, Y., Xu J., Rampley C.P.N., Thompson I.P., Papachristodoulou A, Huang W.E.*. (2019) Development of aspirin inducible biosensors in Escherichia coli and SimCells. Applied & Environmental Microbiology 85:e02959-18. Highlighted by AEM Spotlight.
  • Jing, X., Gou, H., Gong, Y., Su, X., Xu, L. Ji, Y. Song, Y., Thompson, I.P., Xu, J. Huang, W.E.* (2018) Raman-activated cell sorting and metagenomic sequencing revealing carbon-fixing bacteria in the ocean. Environmental Microbiology 20:2241-2255.
  • Rampley, C.P.N., Davison, P.A., Qian, P., Preston, G.M., Hunter, C.N., Thompson, P.I., Wu, L.J., Huang, W.E.* (2017) Development of SimCells as a novel chassis for functional biosensors. Scientific Reports 7:7261.
  • Song, Y., Kaster, A., Vollmers, J., Song, Y., Davison, P.A., Frentrup, M., Preston, G.M., Thompson, I.P., Murrell, J.C., Yin, H., Hunter, C.N., Huang, W.E.* (2017) Single cell genomics based on Raman sorting reveals novel carotenoid-containing bacteria in the Red Sea. Microbial Biotechnology. 10:125-137.
  • Zhang, D., Berry, J.P., Zhu, D., Wang, Y., Chen, Y., Jiang, B., Huang, S., Langford, H., Li, G., Xu, J., Aries, E. and Huang, W.E.* (2015) Isolation and physiological characterisation of an uncultured degrader in a complex microbial community. ISME Journal 9:603-614. 
  • Zhang, D., Zhao, Y, He, Y, Wang, Y. Zhao, Y, Zheng, Y., Wei, X., Zhang,L., Li, Y., Jin, T., Wu, L., Wang, H., Davison, P.A., Xu, J. and Huang, W.E.* (2012) Characterization and Modeling of Transcriptional Cross-Regulation in Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1. ACS Synthetic Biology 1:274–283.
  • Li M, Canniffe DP, Jackson PJ, Davison PA, FitzGerald S, Dickman MJ, Burgess JG, Hunter CN & Huang WE* (2012) Rapid resonance Raman microspectroscopy to probe carbon dioxide fixation by single cells in microbial communities. ISME Journal 6:875-885.
  • Huang WE*, Ferguson A, Singer AC, Lawson K, Thompson IP, Kalin RM, Larkin MJ, Bailey MJ & Whiteley AS (2009) Resolving genetic functions within microbial populations: In situ analyses using rRNA and mRNA stable isotope probing coupled with single-cell Raman-fluorescence in situ hybridization. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75:234-241.
  • Song Y, Li G, Thornton SF, Thompson IP, Banwart SA, Lerner DN & Huang WE* (2009) Optimization of bacterial whole cell bioreporters for toxicity assay of environmental samples. Environmental Science and Technology 43:7931-7938.
  • Huang, W.E.*, Singer, A.C., Spiers A.J., Preston G.M. and Whiteley A.S. (2008) Characterizing the regulation of the Pu promoter in Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1. Environmental Microbiology 10:1668-1680. 
  • Huang WE, Stoecker K, Griffiths R, Newbold L, Daims H, Whiteley A & Wagner M (2007) Raman-FISH: Combining stable-isotope Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence in situ hybridization for the single cell analysis of identity and function. Environmental Microbiology 9:1878-1889.
  • Song Y, Hahn T, Thompson IP, Mason TJ, Preston GM, Li G, Paniwnyk L & Huang WE* (2007) Ultrasound-mediated DNA transfer for bacteria. Nucleic Acids Research 35:e129.
  • Huang WE, Wang H, Zheng H, Huang L, Singer AC, Thompson IP & Whiteley AS (2005) Chromosomally located gene fusions constructed in Acinetobacter sp. ADP1 for the detection of salicylate. Environmental Microbiology 7:1339-1348.
  • Huang WE*, Griffiths RI, Thompson IP, Bailey MJ & Whiteley AS (2004) Raman microscopic analysis of single microbial cells. Analytical Chemistry 76:4452-4458.