School of Food Science

Meijun Zhu



Barbara Rasco

Carolyn Hovde Bohach
Charlie Edwards
Girish Ganjyal
James Harbertson
Thomas Henick-Kling
Helen Joyner
Jeff Kronenberg
Amy Lin
Scott Minnich
Greg Möller
Andrzej Paszczynski
Carolyn Ross
Dojin Ryu
Brennan Smith
Denise Smith
Gülhan Ünlü
Meijun Zhu

Associate Professor




PHONE: (509) 335-4016
FAX: (509) 335-4815


I am accepting graduate student applications.

Research Interests

Our research interests center on microbiological food safety and preventive effects of food and bioactive compounds on gut microbiota and chronic diseases: 1) Examine dietary factors such as high fat diet, plant origin foods and bioactive food components on gut health and related metabolic diseases. We use both in vivo mice models and in vitro cell culture and tissue culture to examine the intricate interaction among nutrients, microorganisms, and gut epithelial health. 2) Seek to inactivate, intervene and detect foodborne pathogens in foods and food production environments, and further explore their applications in the food industries; we also explore molecular mechanisms underlying stress responses in foodborne pathogens, and foodborne enteric pathogen and host interaction. We use analytic chemical, biochemical and molecular techniques as well as traditional microbiological techniques for our studies.


Iowa State University
Food Microbiology, Statistics
Ph.D. 2004
China Agricultural University
Molecular Biology
Sc.D. 1999
China Agricultural University
M.S. 1994
China Agricultural University
B.S. 1991




Selected publications

For complete publication list, please visit ResearchGate:


  • Bibi, S., M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2017). Maternal high fat diet consumption enhances offspring susceptibility to DSS-induced colitis in mice. Obesity, DOI: 10.1002/oby.21816
  • Sun, X., Y. Yang, C. J. Rogers, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2017). AMPK regulate intestinal differentiation via histone modification of CDX2. Cell Death and Differentiation, DOI: 10.1038/cdd.2017.14
  • Yang, G., S. Bibi, M. Du, T. Suzuki, and M. J. Zhu. (2017). Regulation of the intestinal tight junction by natural polyphenols: a mechanistic perspective. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1152230
  • Zou, T., Q. Yang, B. Wang, M. J. Zhu, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2017). Resveratrol supplementation to high fat diet-fed pregnant mice promotes brown and beige adipocyte development and prevents obesity in male offspring. Journal of Physiology, 595: 1547-1562.
  • Xue, Y., S. Zhang, Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2017). Dandelion extract suppresses reactive oxidative species and inflammasome in intestinal epithelial cells. Journal of Functional Food, 29: 10-18.
  • Kang, Y., Y. Xue, M. Du., M. J. Zhu. (2017). Preventative effects of Goji berry in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 40: 70-76.


  • Yang, Q., X. Liang, X. Sun, X. Fu, L. Zhang, C. J. Rogers, S. Wang, B. Wang, J. W. Maricelli, B. Viollet, B. D. Rodger, M. J. Zhu, and M. Du. (2016). AMPK/?-ketoglutarate axis dynamically mediates DNA demethylation in the Prdm16 promoter and brown adipogenesis. Cell Metabolism, 24: 542-554.
  • Xue, Y., H. Zhang, X. Sun, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Metformin improves ileal epithelial barrier function in interleukin-10 deficient mice. PLoS ONE, 11: e0168670.
  • Liang, X. W., Q. Y. Yang, L. P. Zhang, J. Maricelli, B. D. Rodgers, M. J. Zhu, and M. Du (2016). Maternal high-fat diet during lactation impairs thermogenic function of brown adipose tissue in offspring mice. Scientific Reports, 6: 34345.
  • Fu, X., M. J. Zhu, S. Zhang, M. Foretz, B. Viollet, and M. Du. (2016). Obesity impairs skeletal muscle regeneration via inhibition of AMP-activated protein kinase. Diabetes, 65:188-200.
  • Zhang, H., Du, Q. Yang, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Butyrate suppresses murine mast cell proliferation and cytokine production through inhibiting histone deacetylase. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 27: 299-306.
  • Bibi, S., Y. Kang, G. Yang, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Grape seed extract improves small intestinal morphology through suppressing inflammation and regulating alkaline phosphatase in IL10-deficient mice. Journal of Functional Food, 20: 245-252.
  • Sheng, L., Rasco, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Cinnamon oil inhibited Shiga toxin 2 phage induction and Shiga toxin 2 production in E. coli O157:H7. Applied Environmental Microbiology, 82: 6531-6540
  • Sheng, L., A. Olsen, J. Hu, W. Yue, W. J. Means, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Grape seed extract regulates virulence factors of CDC “top-six” non-O157 STEC through inhibiting quorum sensing. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 229: 24-32.
  • Zhu, H., M. Du, L. Fox, and M. J. Zhu. (2016). Bactericidal effects of Cinnamomum cassia oil against bovine mastitis bacterial pathogens. Food Control, 66: 291-299
  • Ye, R., C. Zhu, Y. Song, J. Song, S. Fu, Q. Lu, X. Yang, M. J. Zhu, D. Du, H. Li, Y. Lin (2016). One-pot bioinspired synthesis of all-inclusive protein-protein nanoflowers for point-of-care bioassay: Detection of E. coli O157:H7 from milk. Nanoscale, 8, 18980-18986
  • Ye, R., C. Zhu, Y. Song, Q. Lu, X. Ge, X. Yang, M. J. Zhu, H. Li, D. Du, Y. Lin (2016). Bioinspired synthesis of all-in-one organic–inorganic hybrid nanoflowers combined with a handheld pH meter for on-site detection of food pathogen. Small, 12: 3094-3100.
  • Wei, T., D. Du, M. J. Zhu, Y. Lin, and Z. Dai (2016). An improved ultrasensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using hydrangea-like antibody-enzyme-inorganic three-in-one nanocomposites. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 8: 6329-6335.
  • Jiang, T., Y. Song, T. Wei, H. Li, D. Du, M. J. Zhu, and Y. Lin (2016). Sensitive detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 using Pt-Au bimetal nanoparticles with peroxidase-like amplification. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 77: 687-694.


  • Yu, S., T. Su, H. Wu, S. Liu, D. Wang, T. Zhao, Z. Jin, M. J. Zhu, S. L. Chuan, L. Yang, D. Zhu, L. Gu, L. Z. Ma. (2015). PslG, a self-produced glycosyl hydrolase triggers biofilm disassembly by via disrupting exopolysaccharide matrix. Cell Research, 25: 1352-1367.
  • Hu, J. and M. J. Zhu. (2015). Defects in polynucleotide phosphorylase impairs virulence in Escherichia coli O157:H7. Frontier in Microbiology. 6: 806.
  • Zhu, M. J., S. A. Olsen, L. Sheng, Y. Xue, W. Yue. (2015). Antimicrobial efficacy of grape seed extract against Escherichia coli O157:H7 growth, motility and Shiga toxin production. Food Control, 51:177-182.
  • Wang, S., X. Liang, Q. Yang, X. Fu, C. Rogers, M. J. Zhu, B.D. Rodgers, Q. Jiang, M. Dodson, M. Du. (2015). Resveratrol induces brown-like adipocyte formation in white fat through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) ?1. International Journal of Obesity, 39:967-976.
  • Fu, X., M. J. Zhu, M. V. Dodson, and M. Du. (2015). AMP-activated protein kinase stimulates Warburg-Like glycolysis and activation of satellite cells during muscle regeneration. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 290, 26445-26456.
  • Yang, G., Y. Xue, H. Zhang, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2015). Favorable effects of GSE on intestinal epithelial differentiation and barrier function in IL10-deficient mice. British Journal of Nutrition, 2015:1-9.


  • Yang, G., H. Wang, Y. Kang, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Grape seed extract improves epithelial structure and suppresses inflammation in the ileum of IL10-deficient mice. Food and Function, 5: 2558-2563.
  • Hu, J., W. J. Means, R. J. McCormick, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Polynucleotide phosphorylase is critical for E. coli O157:H7 low temperature growth in milk. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 11:177-185.
  • Sheng, L., M. J. Zhu. (2014). Inhibitory effect of Cinnamomum cassia oil on non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Food Control, 46: 374-381.
  • Wang, B., G. Yang, X. Liang, M. J. Zhu, and M. Du. (2014). Grape seed extract prevents skeletal muscle wasting in interleukin 10 knockout mice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14:162-169.
  • Zhang, H., Y. Xue, H. Wang, Y. Huang, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Mast cell deficiency induces inflammation and exacerbates inflammatory bowel symptoms in IL10 deficiency mice. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20:9106-9115
  • Wang, H., Y. Xue, B. Wang, J. Zhao, X. Yan, Y. Huang, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Maternal obesity exacerbates insulitis and type I diabetes in NOD mice. Reproduction, 148:73-79.
  • Xue,,H. Wang, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Maternal obesity induces gut inflammation and impairs gut epithelial barrier function in NOD mice. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 25: 758-764.
  • Xue, Y., H. Zhang, H. Wang, J. Hu, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2014). Host inflammatory response inhibits Escherichia coli O157:H7 adhesion to gut epithelium through augmenting mucin expression. Infection and Immunity, 82:1921-1930.


  • Hu, J., B. Wang, X. Fang, W.J. Means, R.J. McCormick, M. Gomelsky, and M. J. Zhu. (2013). c-di-GMP signaling regulates E. coli O157:H7 adhesion to colonic epithelium. Veterinary Microbiology, 164: 344-351.
  • Fu, X., J. X. Zhao, J. F. Liang, M. J. Zhu, M. Foretz, B. Viollet, and M. Du. (2013). AMP-activated protein kinase mediates myogenin expression and myogenesis via histone deacetylase 5. American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology, 305:C887-895.
  • Yan, X., Y. Huang, J. X. Zhao, C. J. Rogers, M. J. Zhu, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2013). Maternal obesity down-regulates microRNA let-7g expression, a possible mechanism for enhanced adipogenesis during ovine fetal skeletal muscle development. International Journal of Obesity, 37: 568-575.
  • Fu, X., J. X. Zhao, M. J. Zhu, M. Foretz, B. Viollet, M. V. Dodson, and M. Du. (2013). AMPK activity is necessary for myogenin expression and terminal myogenic differentiation. Molecular and Cell Biology, 33: 4517-4525.
  • Kandadi, M. R., Y. Hua, M. J. Zhu, S. Turdi, P.W. Nathanielsz, S. P. Ford, and S. Nair. (2013). Influence of gestational overfeeding and obesity on myocardial pro-inflammatory mediators in fetal sheep heart. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 24:1982-1990
  • Wang, H., Y. Xue, H. Zhang, Y. Huang, G Yang, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2013). Dietary grape seed extract ameliorates symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in interleukin-10 deficient mice. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57:2253-2257.
  • Yang, Q. Y., J.F. Liang, C. J. Rogers, J. X. Zhao, M. J. Zhu, and M. Du. (2013). Maternal obesity induces epigenetic modifications to facilitate Zfp423 expression and enhance adipogenic differentiation in fetal mice. Diabetes, 62:3727-3735.


  • Harries, S.M., W.F. Yue, S.A. Olsen, J. Hu, W.J. Means, R.J. McCormick, M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2012). Salt at concentrations relevant to meat processing enhances Shiga toxin 2 production in Escherichia coli O157:H7. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 159:186-192.
  • Yue, W.F., M. Du, and M. J. Zhu. (2012). High temperature in combination with UV irradiation enhances horizontal transfer of stx2 gene from E. coli O157:H7 to non-pathogenic E. coli. PLoS ONE, 7: e31308 (1-7)
  • Wang, H., J. Zhao, N. Hu, J. Ren, M. Du, and J. Zhu. (2012). Side-stream smoking reduces inflammation and increases expression of tight junction proteins in the intestine. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 18: 2180-2187.
  • Huang, Y., J. X. Zhao, X. Yan, M. J. Zhu, N. M. Long, R. J. McCormick, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2012). Maternal obesity enhances collagen accumulation and cross-linking in skeletal muscle of ovine offspring. PLoS ONE. 7: e31691(1-8).
  • Long, N. M., D. C., Rule, M. J. Zhu, P. W. Nathanielsz, and S. P. Ford. (2012). Maternal obesity upregulates fatty acid and glucose transporters and increases expression of enzymes mediating fatty acid biosynthesis in fetal adipose tissue depots. Journal of Animal Science, 90: 2201-2210.


  • Wang, H., J. Zhao, Y. Huang, X. Yan, A. M. Meyer, M. Du, K. Vonnahme, L. Reynolds, J. Caton and M. J. Zhu. (2012). Effects of maternal plane of nutrition and increased dietary selenium in first parity ewe on inflammatory response in the ovine neonatal gut. Journal of Animal Science, 90: 325-333.


  • Yan, X., Y. Huang, H. Wang, M. Du, B.W. Hess, S. P. Ford, P.W. Nathanielsz, and M. J. Zhu. (2011). Maternal obesity induces sustained inflammation in both fetal and offspring large intestine of sheep. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 17: 1513-1522.
  • Fan, X., S. Turdi, S. P. Ford, Y. Hua, M.J. Nijland, M. J. Zhu, P. W. Nathanielsz, and J. Ren. (2011). Influence of gestational overfeeding on cardiac morphometry and hypertrophic protein markers in fetal sheep. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 22: 30-37.
  • Yan, X., Y. Huang, J. X. Zhao, N. M. Long, A. B. Uthlaut, M. J. Zhu, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2011). Maternal obesity impaired insulin signaling and induced lipid accumulation and fibrosis in skeletal muscle of offspring. Biology of Reproduction, 85: 172-178
  • Zhao, J. X., W. F. Yue, M. J. Zhu, and M. Du. (2011). AMP-activated protein kinase regulates b-catenin transcription via histone deacetylase 5. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286: 16426-16434.
  • Hua, Y. M.R. Kandadi, M. J. Zhu, J. Ren, and S. Nair. (2010). Tauroursodeoxycholic acid attenuates lipid 1 accumulation in endoplasmic reticulum -stressed macrophages. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 55: 49-55.
  • Yan, X., M. J. Zhu, W. Xu, J. F. Tong, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2010). Up-regulation of TLR4/NF-kB signaling is associated with enhanced adipogenesis and insulin resistance in fetal skeletal muscle of obese sheep at late gestation. Endocrinology, 151: 380-387.
  • Huang, Y., X. Yan, J.X. Zhao, M. J. Zhu, R. J. McCormick, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, J. Ren and M. Du. (2010). Maternal obesity induces fibrosis in fetal myocardium of sheep. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 299: E968-E975.
  • Ford, S. P., L. Zhang, M. J. Zhu, M. M. Miller, D.T. Smith, B. W. Hess, G. E. Moss, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. J. Nijland. (2009). Maternal obesity accelerates fetal pancreatic beta-cell but not alpha-cell development in the sheep: prenatal and postnatal consequences. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, 297: R835-R843.
  • Zhu, M. J., Mendonca, H. A. Ismail, and D. U. Ahn. (2009). Fate of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat turkey breast rolls formulated with antimicrobials following electron-beam irradiation. Poultry Science, 88: 205-213.
  • Zhu, M. J., Mendonca, H. A. Ismail, and D. U. Ahn. (2008). Effects of irradiation on survival and growth of Listeria monocytogenes and natural microflora in vacuum-packaged turkey hams and breast rolls. Poultry Science, 87: 2140-2145.
  • Zhu, M. J., B. Han, J. Tong, C. Ma, J. M. Kimzey, K. R. Underwood, S. P. Ford, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2008). AMP-activated protein kinase signaling pathways are down-regulated and skeletal muscle development impaired in fetuses of obese, over-nourished sheep.  Journal of Physiology, 568: 2651-2664.
  • Yang, X., T. A. Doser, C. X. Fang, J. M. Nunn, R. Janardhanan, M. J. Zhu, S. Nair, M. T. Quinn, and J. Ren. (2006). Metallothionein prolongs survival and antagonizes senescence-associated cardiomyocyte diastolic dysfunction: Role of oxidative stress. FASEB Journal, 20:1024-1036.
  • Zhu, M. J., S. P. Ford, W. J. Means, B. W. Hess, P. W. Nathanielsz, and M. Du. (2006). Maternal nutrient restriction affects muscle fiber number and composition in skeletal muscle of offspring. Journal of Physiology, 575: 241-250.
  • Zhu, M. J., Mendonca, H. A. Ismail, M. Du, E. J. Lee, and D.U. Ahn. (2005). Impact of antimicrobial ingredients and irradiation on the survival of Listeria monocytogenes and quality of ready-to-eat turkey ham. Poultry Science, 84: 613-620.
  • Zhu, M. J., M. Du, and D. U. Ahn. (2005). Control of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in ready-to-eat meat products. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 4: 34-42.
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