Guoxin Cui

Postdoctoral Fellows



B2/L2 - Sea Side - 2207-WS04


I am a biologist with interests in almost every aspect of life science. I was equipped with general biological knowledge and generated broad interests to biological research during my undergraduate education in Northeast Forestry University in China. Later on, I joined a lab focusing on plant development in the same institute as a Master's student, and focused on light-regulated anthocyanin biosynthesis for three years.

In order to experience a different field of biological research, I went to Tsinghua University as a research assistant working on structural biology of cytoskeleton associated proteins. The experience of working in different fields intrigues me to move further and investigate more interesting biological phenomena, hence my decision to enroll in the PhD program of BioScience in KAUST. Currently, my focus is on decoding the molecular mechanism underlying cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.

Research Interests

​The symbiosis between coral and Symbiodinium is the foundation of the coral reef ecosystem. Aiptasia has emerged as a model organism to study this symbiotic relationship because of its close relativeness with coral. I am focusing on unravel the molecular underpinnings of the symbiosis between Aiptasia and Symbiodinium with a higher resolution. By applying laser microdissection (LMD), RNA-seq and downstream biochemical assays and molecular biological studies, I am looking for the potential key players in symbiosis establishment, maintenance, and breakdown.

Selected Publications

  • Cui G, Liew YJ, Li Y, Kharbatia N, Zahran N, Emwas A, Eguiluz V, Aranda M (2019). "Host-dependent nitrogen recycling as a mechanism of symbiont control in Aiptasia". PLoS Genetics 15(6): e1008189
  • Li Y, Liew YJ, Cui G, Cziesielski M, Zahran N, Michell C, Voolstra C, Aranda M (2018). "DNA methylation regulates transcriptional homeostasis of algal endosymbiosis in the coral model Aiptasia​". Science Advances 4(8): eaat2142
  • Liew YJ, Zoccola D, Li Y, Tambutté E, Venn A, Michell C, Cui G, Deutekom E, Kaandorp J, Voolstra C, Forêt S, Allemand D, Tambutté S, Aranda M (2018). " Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral". Science Advances 4(6): eaar8028
  • Cziesielski MJ, Liew YJ, Cui G, Schmidt-Roach S, Campana S, Marondedze C, Aranda M (2018). "Multi-omics analysis of thermal stress response in a zooxanthellae cnidarian reveals the importance of associating with thermotolerant symbionts". Proceedings of The Royal Society B 285:20172654
  • Chen JE*, Cui G*, Want X, Liew YJ, Aranda M (2018). "Recent expansion of heat-activated retrotransposons in the coral symbiont Symbiodinium microadriaticum".​  ISME J 312:639-643. *: co-frist author


  • Ph.D. BioScience - King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (2014-2018)
  • M.Sc. Developmental Biology - NEFU, Harbin, China (2008-2011)
  • B.Sc. Biotechnology - Northeast Forestry University (NEFU), China (2004-2008)

KAUST Affiliations

● Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)

● Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

Research Interests Keywords

Bioinformatics Molecular Biology Biochemistry Transcriptomics Laser Microdissection