Henry Chung

Henry Chung

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Associate Professor and Associate Chairperson
Department of Entomology



• PhD - The University of Melbourne (2008)
• BS (1st Class Hons) - The University of Melbourne (2003)
• BS - Curtin University (2002)
• Dip. Biotech. - Ngee Ann Polytechnic (1999)

Click here to see a list of Henry Chung's publications on Google Scholar.



My research program and teaching assignments revolve around insect physiology, molecular genetics, and evolutionary biology. We also collaborate extensively within MSU and with other institutions on applying our expertise to managing insect pests. 

Lab homepage: thechunglab.org 

Current assignment: Teaching 25% | Research 75%

Program Description


Teaching and mentoring are important aspects of my career objective. Student success is paramount in both my teaching and research. I teach ENT 451 Insect Physiology (3 credits) for both undergraduate and graduate students. This course covers broad and fundamental topics in insect post-embryonic development and physiological systems such as the digestive systems, reproductive systems, and communication systems. ENT 451 will also cover current research in insect physiology. Assignments and exams for this course are open-book. I also teach the Insect Molecular Biology seminar course (1 credit) and the Insect Chemical Ecology seminar course (1 credit) for graduate students, and contribute guest lectures in the Insect Toxicology and Medical Entomology courses at MSU.


Our research uses a multidisciplinary but integrated approach to investigate the molecular and evolutionary basis of different physiological traits in insects. We focused on species of the Drosophila genus from different ecological habitats and with evolutionary history as well as other closely related insect species. This approach allows us to investigate a wide range of physiological diversity while working with species that are genetically tractable. Our current research program centered around two main themes:

  • environmental adaptation
  • communication and reproduction


1.    Environmental adaptation: 

Project 1.1: Mechanisms underlying desiccation resistance in insects: One of the key factors affecting water loss rates in insects is the composition of a lipid layer on insect cuticles called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). We are using multiple tools such as machine-learning algorithms, correlation analyses, synthetic CHCs, transgenic flies, and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to investigate how the evolution of CHCs affects the evolution of desiccation resistance in Drosophila and related species. Key papers: Chung et al. 2014 Science, Wang et al. 2022 eLife, 2023 Science Advances

Project 1.2: Mechanisms underlying insecticide resistance: We are using multiple tools to determine novel mechanisms underlying insecticide resistance in Drosophila and other insect species and how climate change may affect the genetics of insecticide resistance. Key papers: Chung et al. 2007 Genetics, Chung et al. 2009 PNAS, Pu et al. 2020 Pest Management Science

Project 1.3: Mechanisms underlying heavy metal tolerance: Metallothioneins are important proteins in determining heavy metal tolerance in almost all organisms. We are currently investigating how the evolution of metallothioneins affects tolerance to different heavy metals in insects. This includes a new metallothionein gene, MtnF, discovered in our lab. Key papers: Luo et al. 2020 Proceedings of the Royal Society B

2.    Communication and reproduction: 

Project 2.1: Molecular basis of sexually dimorphic CHCs in Drosophila: We are studying how sexually dimorphic CHCs are generated and how dimorphic CHCs may play a role in mate choice and mating success.

Project 2.2: Molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying the rapid gain and loss of an insect pheromone: In collaboration with Joanne Yew’s lab at the University of Hawaii, we are investigating the origins of the biosynthesis pathway of the male pheromone CH503 across Drosophila species. Key papers: Pu et al. 2021 Cell Reports

Project 2.3: Roles of male seminal fluid (SF) lipids in fertility:  Fatty acids and other lipids are found in the SF of many animals, including humans. While the roles of lipids in the process of spermatogenesis is well studied, there is little research on the roles of lipids as components of the SF. Our new research uses Drosophila as model to the roles SF lipids in male fertility.

We are always looking for creative and motivated students (undergrads and graduate students) to join my research program. For postdocs and visiting scholars, please email me to enquire if there are any open positions in our lab. Please reference “Chung Lab Application” in the subject of your email.

Professional experience

  • 2023 - present - Associate Professor and Associate Chairperson, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 2017 - 2023 - Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 2009 - 2016 - Postdoc, Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • 2004 - 2008 - Graduate Student, Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne
  • 2002 - Laboratory Technologist, Department of Neurology, Singapore General Hospital

Selected Publications

  • Wang Z, Pu J, Richards C, Giannetti E, Cong H, Lin Z, and Chung H (2023) Evolution of a fatty acyl-CoA elongase underlies desert adaptation in Drosophila. Science Advances 9(35), eadg0328
  • Wang Z, Receveur JP, Pu J, Cong H, Richards C#, Liang M, and Chung H (2022) Desiccation resistance differences in Drosophila species can be largely explained by variation in cuticular hydrocarbons. eLife 11, e80859
  • Rusuwa B, Chung H, Allen SL, Frentiu FD, and Chenoweth, SF (2022). Natural variation at a single locus generates sexual antagonism across fitness components in Drosophila. Current Biology 32, 1–9 
  • Pu J, Wang Z, Cong H, Chin JSR, Justen J#, Finet C, Yew JY, and Chung H (2021). Repression precedes the independent evolution of a highly specific gene expression pattern. Cell Reports 37 (4), 109896  
  • Luo M, Finet C, Cong H, Wei HY, and Chung H (2020). The Evolution of Insect Metallothioneins. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 287(1937), 20202189.
  • Pu J, Wang Z, and Chung H (2020). Climate change and the genetics of insecticide resistance. Pest Management Science 76 (3), 846-852
  • Finet C, Slavik K, Pu J, Carroll SB, and Chung H (2019) Birth-and-death evolution of the fatty acyl-CoA reductase (FAR) gene family and diversification of cuticular hydrocarbon synthesis in Drosophila. Genome Biology and Evolution 11, 1541-1551
  • Chung H and Carroll SB (2015). Wax, Sex, and the Origin of Species: Dual roles of insect cuticular hydrocarbons in adaptation and mating. Bioessays 37, 822-30
  • Chung H, Loehlin DW, Dufour HD, Vacarro K, Millar JG, and Carroll SB (2014). A single gene affects both ecological divergence and mate choice in Drosophila. Science 343, 1148-1151
  • Chung H, Boey A, Lumb C, Willoughby L, Robin C, Batterham P and Daborn PJ (2011). Induction of a detoxification gene in Drosophila melanogaster requires an interaction between tissue specific enhancers and a novel cis-regulatory element. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 41, 863-71
  • Chung H, Sztal T, Pasricha S, Sridhar M, Batterham P, and Daborn P.J. (2009). Characterization of Drosophila melanogaster cytochrome P450 genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106, 5731–5736
  • Chung H, Bogwitz MR, McCart C, Andrianopoulos A, ffrench-Constant RH, Batterham P, and Daborn PJ (2007). Cis-regulatory elements in the Accord retrotransposon result in tissue-specific expression of the Drosophila melanogaster insecticide resistance gene Cyp6g1. Genetics 175, 1071–1077