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Ming Z. Fan


Position/Title: Professor of Nutritional Ecology
email: mfan@uoguelph.ca
Phone: (519) 824-4120 ext. 53656
Office: ANNU #224

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Ming Fan became interested in nature, life science and medicine as a child. After obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, he did post-doc research at the University of Alberta, Purdue University and Baylor College of Medicine before joining the University of Guelph faculty in 1998. When not at the University of Guelph, he enjoys gardening and landscape design.

Academic History

  • B.Sc. Animal Science, Xinjiang Agricultural University (1985)
  • M.Sc. Animal Nutrition, Northeastern Agricultural University (1988)
  • Ph.D. Animal Nutrition, University of Alberta (1994)

Affiliations and Partnerships

  • Canadian (CSAS) and American (ASAS) Societies of Animal Science
  • Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS)
  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
  • American Physiological Society (APS)
  • American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)

Awards and Honours

  • USDA/ARS Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC), Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine (1997)
  • Pfizer Young Scientist Award by the Canadian Society of Animal Science (2001)

Research Impact

Dr. Fan’s core expertise is in the area of gastrointestinal physiology, nutrition and metabolism in pigs. His research focuses on understanding how nutrients affect physiological functions, wellbeing and health. He is also looking at how nutrients are connected to; and is actively engaging in applying novel functional genomics tools and enzyme biotechnologies to address the issues of environmental sustainability as related to intensive animal production; as well as critical challenges facing animal and human health management.

Dr. Fan has produced a number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, research abstracts in peer-reviewed journals through conference presentations, conference and workshop presentations, and short-version extension publications. His most significant contributions to research and practical applications include the following:

  • Pioneered the development of novel methods for determining the gastrointestinal endogenous nutrient outputs; and how amino acids and minerals were truly digested and absorbed in the pig’s intestines from different types of feeds. These research activities have contributed to formulation of commercial compound feeds for pigs based on how digestible the ingredients are, and reduced feeding costs and the problem of excessive nutrient excretion in the manure from swine production.
  • Contributed to the development of the enviropig ™ in Guelph, Canada; and the recent multi-transgene pig in China. These research activities have demonstrated that transgenic domestic food-animal biotechnologies could potentially resolve critical issues of sustainability in food animal production on a global scale.
  • Identified specific amino acids and sugar transporters in the intestines of young pigs that support efficient nutrient digestion and growth. This has clarified the roles of these molecules in animals but also has applications for humans with conditions such as low-birth-weight infants with compromised intestinal function; and chronic bowel inflammation.
  • Shown that increasing luminal alkaline phosphatase function in early-weaned young pigs is an effective alternative to using feed antimicrobials to improve health and minimize morbidity and mortality. This is important as concerns about antimicrobial resistance increase.
  • Developed a novel method for measuring in vivo organ and tissue protein synthesis, to help understand factors affecting gene expression at the post-transcriptional level in growth and metabolism.
  • Demonstrated how the soluble fibre guar gum in the diet promotes gut health and reduces “bad” cholesterol in pigs fed a high-fat diet, and showed that crystalline cellulose is not effective because it is readily degraded in in the pig’s small and large bowel. This is has led to the discovery of new multi-functional processive cellulases from the pig’s gut microbiome with potential industrial biotechnology applications. 

Current Research Projects

Dr. Fan’s research seeks to answer questions about improving the efficiency of nutrient use for sustainable animal production, improving understanding of basic animal biology to improve animal and human nutrition and health, and discovering new enzymes and other bio-products with industrial applications.

Current studies in progress include:

- "Post-Transcriptional Processing of the Small Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase in the Postnatal Developing Pig" supported by the NSERC Discovery Program (2016 - 2021).

- "Metagenomic Discovery of Novel Industrial Enzymes" supported by a grant-in-aid project with the Metagen Enzyme Corporation (phase-I, 2015 – 2018; and phase-II, 2019 - 2023).

- "Efficacy of Exogenous Alkaline Phosphatases to Improve Growth Performances in Pigs" supported by Ontario Pork (2018 - 2021).

- "Biological Roles and Efficacy of Alkaline Phosphatases for Improving Gut Health, Growth Performance, Physiological Endpoints and Gut Microbiome in the Weanling Pig" supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Swine Innovation Porc (SIP) Swine Cluster Program (2018 - 2022).

- "Efficacy of Novel Exogenous Phosphatases and Cellulases in Grower-Finisher Pig" supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Swine Innovation Porc (SIP) Swine Cluster Program (2018 - 2022).

Graduate Student Information

Ming’s graduate students are involved in the whole range of research activities from literature review, study design, laboratory work, data analysis, publication and public reporting. His research associate helps to train the students in the use of laboratory equipment and the procedures for working with live animals and collecting data. Ming works closely with the students in designing their studies and ensuring that data are summarized and analyzed correctly. He also helps students work towards publication in quality journals with high impact. His students are well trained and prepared for their future research work and professional development. 

Some graduate student projects have included:

  • Determination of endogenous phosphorus and true phosphorus digestibility in feeds for pigs
  • Understanding physiological factors affecting fractional protein synthesis rates in postnatal pigs
  • Early weaning affecting intestinal digestive enzyme gene expression in pigs
  • Antimicrobials in regulating intestinal digestive enzyme gene expression in weanling pigs
  • Exogenous processive endocellulases in enhancing dietary fibre digestion in pigs

Graduate students trained under Ming’s supervision have found positions as part of university faculties, with federal and provincial governments and in industry (both management and technical support) in Canada and around the world.

Featured Publications

Zhang, X., Li Z., Yang H., Liu D., Cai G., Li G., Mo J., Wang D., Zhong C., Wang H., Sun Y., Shi J., Zheng E., Meng F., Zhang M., He X., Zhou R., Zhang J., Huang M., Zhang R., Li N., Fan M., Yang J., Wu Z. 2018. (2018). Novel transgenic pigs with enhanced growth and reduced environmental impact.  eLife  7:e34286. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.342866.

Lackeyram, D., Young, D., Kim, C.J., Yang, C., Archbold, T. and Mine, Y. and M.Z. Fan. (2017).  Interleukin-10 is differentially expressed in the small intestine and the colon experiencing chronic inflammation and ulcerative colitisinduced by dextran sodium sulfate in young pigs.  Physiological Research  66: 147-162.

Yang, C., X. Yang, D. Lackeyram, T.C. Rideout, Z. Wang, B. Stoll, Y. Yin, D.G. Burrin, and M.Z. Fan. (2016).  Expression of apical Na+-L-glutamine co-transport activity, B0-system neutral amino acid co-transporter (B0AT1) and angiotensin converting enzyme 2 along the jejunal crypt-villus axis in young pigs fed a liquid formula.  Amino Acids  48:1491-1508.

Wang, W., T. Archbold, M.S. Kimber, J. Li, J.S. Lam, and M.Z. Fan.  (2012). The porcine gut microbial metagenomic library for mining novel cellulases established from growing pigs fed cellulose-supplemented high-fat diets. Journal of Animal Science  90:400-402.

Yang, C., D.M. Albin, Z. Wang, B. Stoll, D. Lackeyram, K.C. Swanson,Y.L. Yin,K.A. Tappenden, Y. Mine, R.Y. Yada, D.G. Burrin and M.Z. Fan.  (2011). Apical Na+-D-glucose co-transporter 1 (SGLT1) activity and protein abundance are expressed along the jejunal crypt-villus axis in the neonatal pig.  American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology  300: G60-G70.

Lackeyram, D., C. Yang, T. Archbold, K. Swanson, and M.Z. Fan.  (2010).  Early weaning reduces small intestinal alkaline phosphatase expression in pigs. The Journal of Nutrition  140:461-468.

Kim, C., Kovacs-Nolan J.A., Yang C., Archbold T., M.Z. Fan, Mine Y. (2010).  L-Tryptophan exhibits therapeutic function in a porcine model of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis.  The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry  21:468-475.

Bregendahl, K., X. Yang, L. Liu, J. T. Yen, T. C. Rideout, Y. Shen, G. Werchola and M.Z. Fan.  (2008). Fractional protein synthesis rates are similar when measured by intraperitoneal or intravenous flooding doses of l‑[ring‑2H5]phenylalanine in combination with a rapid regimen of sampling in piglets.  The Journalof Nutrition  138: 1976-1981.

Fan, M.Z., J. Matthews, N.M.P. Etienne, B. Stoll, D. Lackeyram, and D.G. Burrin.  (2004).  Expression of brush border L-glutamate transporters in epithelial cells along the crypt-villus axis in the neonatal pig.  American Journal of Physiology  287:G385-G398.

Fan, M.Z., T. Archbold, W.C. Sauer, D. Lackeyram, T. Rideout, Y. Gao, C.F.M. de Lange, and R.R. Hacker.  (2001).  Novel methodology allows measurement of true phosphorus digestibility and the gastrointestinal endogenous phosphorus outputs in studies with pigs.  The Journal of Nutrition 131:2388-2396.

Golovan, S., R.D. Meidinger, A. Ajakaiye, M. Cottrill, M.Z. Weiderkehr, C. Plante, J. Pollard, M.Z. Fan, A. Hayes, A.C. Jesper Laursen, J.P. Hjorth, R.R. Hacker, D. Barney, J.P. Phillips and, C.W. Forsberg.  (2001).  Enhanced phosphorus digestion and reduced pollution potential by pigs with salivary phytase.  Nature Biotechnology  19:741-745.