Dr Zhiling Guo PhD

Dr Zhiling Guo

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Assistant Professor

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Zhiling Guo is an environmental toxicologist interested in understanding the connection between human exposure to pollutants (nanomaterial, micro/nano-plastic, air pollutant, organic pollutant, heavy metal, virus, pollen, and emerging pollutants) and life-long health, and the potential underlying mechanisms. Her research also focuses on establishing the 3R alternatives (i.e. in vitro barrier model, organ-on-chip) as enabling technologies to facilitate investigation of the human and environmental impacts of pollution, and to link across different research areas. She is also interested in understanding the effects of pollutants on ecosystems (terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystem), and developing biosensors to detect the traditional and emerging pollutants in the environmental and biological samples.

She has multidisciplinary expertise in different areas including environmental health, material science, environmental toxicology, molecular toxicology, neurotoxicology, nanotoxicology, and aquatic toxicology. She has published over 50 papers in top-tier journals including Nature Protocol, Nature Plants, Nature Communication, PNAS, Water Research, ES&T, Nano Today, ES&T letter, etc. She is an Associate Editor for journal Frontiers in Toxicology and Guest Editor for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.



  • BSc. Biotechnology (2008)
  • PhD Marine Ecology (2014)


Dr. Zhiling Guo undertook her PhD project in Marine Ecology at University of Connecticut, USA looking at the climate change effects on the phytoplankton community and prey diversity of zooplankton in the marine water. She subsequently did her postdoctoral research at Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, investigating the mechanisms of heavy metal -induced skin diseases. Then she received an international postdoctoral fellowship to work in McGill University, Canada, for two years on the effects of prenatal infection on offspring brain health. In 2017 she returned to Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences investigating the neurotoxicity of organic pollutants using in vitro models. In April 2018, she joined the University of Birmingham as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Environmental Nanosciences, mainly working on developing the in vitro blood brain barrier model to study the transport behavior of nanomaterials across the blood brain barrier using single cell and single particle ICP-MS combined with synchrotron-based techniques. She becomes Assistant Professor in 2022.


  • BSc Environmental Sciences
  • Global Challenge in the Anthropocene
  • From molecules to materials: Deconstructing the environment

Postgraduate supervision

Dr. Guo currently supervises PhD projects on a range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Development of in Vitro Cell Model (Barrier Model, Organ-On-Chip, Etc.)
  • Multiscale Environmental Monitoring and Human-Centric Infrastructure Management
  • Ecotoxicity of Microplastic
  • Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity of Nanoparticle, etc.

Interested students, including those with existing funding (e.g. CSC, UK, European scholarship) or applying for funding, are welcome to contact Dr. Guo by email (z.guo@bham.ac.uk) to discuss potential projects.


  • Development of 3R Alternatives (organ-on-chip, in vitro cell model, barrier model, etc.) 
  • Environmental and Human Toxicology of Pollutants (air pollutant, microplastic, nanomaterials, etc)
  • Nano-enabled Drug Delivery
  • Bioassay for Determination of Persistent Organic Pollutant in the Environmental and Biological Samples
  • Machine Learning and Predictive Modelling Approach for Toxicological Studies;

Research Gate profile:


Other activities

  • Outstanding reviewer for Environmental Science: Nano
  • Associate Editor for Frontiers in Toxicology
  • Guest Editor for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
  • Editorial Board member for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
  • Full Member of Society of Toxicology
  • Member of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
  • Full Member of Chinese Society of Toxicology


  1. Zhiling Guo*, Peng Zhang*, Swaroop Chakraborty, Andrew J Chetwynd, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Christopher Stark, Hanene Ali-Boucetta, Sandra Wilson, Iseult Lynch, and Eugenia Valsami-Jones*. Biotransformation modulates the penetration of metallic nanomaterials across the blood brain barrier. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2021, 118, e2105245118. (Front cover)
  2. Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang*, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Bin Zhao*, Iseult Lynch. First in vivo evidence for compromised brain energy metabolism upon intranasal exposure to ZnO nanoparticles. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2020, 7(5), 315-322.
  3. Peng Zhang*, Zhiling Guo, Sami Ullah, Georgia Melagraki, Afantitis Antreas, Iseult Lynch. Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence to Enable Sustainable and Precision Agriculture. Nature Plants 2021, 7, 864-876.
  4. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Martina G. Vijver, Iseult Lynch, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, and Willie JGM Peijnenburg. An analytical workflow for dynamic characterization and quantification of metal-bearing nanomaterials in biological matrices. Nature protocols 2022: 1-27.
  5. Rong Cai, Jiayu Ren, Mengyu Guo, Taotao Wei, Ying Liu, Chunyu Xie, Peng Zhang, Zhiling Guo, Andrew J Chetwynd, Pu Chun Ke, Iseult Lynch, Chunying Chen. Dynamic intracellular exchange of nanomaterials’ protein corona perturbs proteostasis and remodels cell metabolism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2022, 119, no. 23 (2022): e2200363119.
  6. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Latifeh Chupani, Daniel Arenas-Logo, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Gopala Krishna Darbha, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Iseult Lynch, Martina G. Vijver, Peter M. van Bodegom, Willie J.G.M. Peijnenburg. Particle number-based trophic transfer of gold nanomaterials in an aquatic food chain. Nature Communication 2021, 12(1), 1-12
  7. Peng Zhang*, Superb K Misra, Zhiling Guo, Mark Rehkämper, Eugenia Valsami-Jones. Stable isotope labelling of metal/metal oxide nanomaterials for environmental and biological tracing. Nature Protocol 2019, 14(10), 2878-2899.
  8. Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang*, Yali Luo, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Swaroop Chakraborty, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Lijing Bu, Yiyun Liu, Yongchao Ma, Zhiyong Zhang, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Bin Zhao*, Iseult Lynch. Intranasal exposure to ZnO nanoparticles induces alterations in cholinergic neurotransmission in Rat Brain. Nano Today 2020, 35: 100977.
  9. Peng Zhang, Zhiling Guo*, Chunying Chen, and Iseult Lynch. Uncertainties in the antibacterial mechanisms of graphene family materials. Nano Today 2022, 43, 101436.
  10. Zhiling Guo*, Yali Luo, Peng Zhang*, Andrew J. Chetwynd, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Wunqun Tao, Changjian Xie, Yiyun Liu, Li Xu, Zhiyong Zhang, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Iseult Lynch, Bin Zhao*. Deciphering the particle specific effects on metabolism in rat liver and plasma from ZnO nanoparticles versus ionic Zn exposure. Environment International 2020, 136, 105437.
  11. Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang*, Andrew Chetwynd, Qunhui Xie, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Bin Zhao*, Iseult Lynch. Elucidating the mechanism of surface functionalization dependent neurotoxicity of graphene family nanomaterials. Nanoscale 2020, 12 (36), 18600-18605
  12. Zhiling Guo, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Peng Zhang, Yali Luo, Tuan Xu, Yiyun Liu, Hualing Fu, Li Xu, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Patricia Boksa*, Bin Zhao*. Dioxins as potential risk factors for autism spectrum disorder. Environment International 2018, 121 (1): 906-915.
  13. Zhiling Guo, Tse Yiu Chung, Ying Zhang, Qiang Sun, Haley A. Vecchiarelli, Robert Aukema, Matthew N. Hill, Tak Pan Wong *, Patricia Boksa*. Prenatal immune activation potentiates endocannabinoid-related plasticity of inhibitory synapses in the hippocampus of adolescent rat offspring. European Neuropsychopharmacology 2018, 28(12): 1405-1417.
  14. Zhiling Guo, Qin Hu, Jijing Tian, Li Yan, Chuanyong Jing, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Wenjun Bao, Robert H. Rice, Bin Zhao*, Guibin Jiang. Proteomic profiling reveals candidate markers for arsenic-induced skin keratosis. Environmental pollution 2016, 218: 34-38.
  15. Zhiling Guo, Changjian Xie, Peng Zhang*, Junzhe Zhang, Guohua Wang, Xiao He, Yuhui Ma, Bin Zhao*, Zhiyong Zhang*. Toxicity and transformation of graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide in bacteria biofilm. Science of the total environment 2017, 580, 1300-1308.
  16. Zhiling Guo, Swaroop Chakraborty, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Dimitra‐Danai Varsou, Andrew J. Chetwynd, Antreas Afantitis, Iseult Lynch, and Peng Zhang*. Surface Functionalization of Graphene‐Based Materials: Biological Behavior, Toxicology, and Safe‐By‐Design Aspects. Advanced Biology 2021, 5(9), 2100637
  17. Peng Zhang*, Zhiling Guo, Zhiyong Zhang*, Huling Fu, Jason White, Iseult Lynch. Nanomaterial transformation in the soil-plant system: implications for food safety and application in agriculture. Small 2020, 16(21), 2070116
  18. Peng Zhang*, Zhiling Guo, Wenhe Luo, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Changjian Xie, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Iseult Lynch, Zhiyong Zhang. Graphene oxide induced iron overload and subsequent oxidative damage in rice (Oryza. sativa L.): a new mechanism of nanomaterial phytotoxicity. Environmental Science & Technology 2020, 54(6), 3181-3190.
  19. Peng Zhang, Zhiling Guo, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Iseult Lynch, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Zhiyong Zhang. Growing rice (Oryza sativa) aerobically reduces phytotoxicity, uptake, and transformation of CeO2 nanoparticles. Environmental Science & Technology 2021, 55, (13), 8654-8664.
  20. Tuan Xu, Yali Luo, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Yingjie Xia, Yunping Li, Yangsheng Chen, Zhiling Guo, Li Xu, Bin Zhao. Systematic identification of molecular mechanisms for aryl hydrocarbon receptor mediated neuroblastoma cell migration. Environment International 2022: 107461.
  21. Xenia Knigge, Zhiling Guo, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Vasile-Dan Hodoroaba, Jörg Radnik. Influence of Sterilization on the Surface of Nanoparticles Studied with XPS/HAXPES in Comparison to SEM/EDS. Microscopy and Microanalysis 2022, 28: 986-988.
  22. Feng Shanshan, Peng Zhang, Yanmei Hu, Feng Jin, Yuqing Liu, Shixin Cai, Zijie Song, Xing Zhang, Tcganova Nadezhda, Zhiling Guo, Iseult Lynch, Xiuli Dang. Combined application of biochar and nano-zeolite enhanced cadmium immobilization and promote the growth of Pak Choi in cadmium contaminated soil. NanoImpact, 2022, p.100421.
  23. Pingfan Zhou, Binbin Long, Ruisi Wang, Yaqi Jiang, Weichen Zhao, Yuanbo Li, Mingshu Li, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Yukui Rui, Iseult Lynch. Iron nanoparticles increase the active ingredients of traditional Chinese Medicine Isatis Indigotica not carbon nanotubes: a comparative study. Environmental Science: Nano 2022. DOI: 10.1039/D2EN00488G
  24. Kaini Yang, Xiangyu Wang, Iseult Lynch, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Lisi Wu, Jun Ma. Design of cryogel based CNTs-anchored polyacrylonitrile honeycomb film with ultra-high S-NZVI incorporation for enhanced synergistic reduction of Cr(VI). Jounral of Hazardous Materials 2022, 129923.
  25. Wuqun Tao, Zhiguang Zhou, Li Shen, Chaofei Zhu, Wanglong Zhang, Li Xu, Zhiling Guo, Tong Xu, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Bin Zhao*. Determination of polyhalogenated carbazoles in soil using gas chromatography-triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry. Science of The Total Environment 2019, 135524.
  26. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh*, Martina G. Vijver, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Gopala Krishna Darbha, Willie J.G.M. Peijnenburg. Metal Sorption onto Nanoscale Plastic Debris and Trojan Horse Effects in Daphnia magna: Role of Dissolved Organic Matter. Water Research 2020, 186: 116410.
  27. Yali Luo, Tuan Xu, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Zhiling Guo, Wanglong Zhang, Yangsheng Chen, Rui Sha, Yiyun Liu, Yongchao Ma, Li Xu, Bin Zhao*. Effects of 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin on spontaneous movement of human neuroblastoma cells. Science of the total environment 2020, 715: 136805
  28. Wuqun Tao, Jijing Tian, Tuan Xu, Li Xu, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Zhiguang Zhou, Zhiling Guo, Hualing Fu, Xuejiao Yin, Yangsheng Chen, Haiming Xu, Songyan Zhang, Wanglong Zhang, Chao Ma, Feng Ji, Jun Yang, Bin Zhao*. Metabolic profiling study on potential toxicity in male mice treated with Dechlorane 602 using UHPLC-ESI-IT-TOF-MS. Environmental Pollution 2019, 246: 141-147.
  29. Hualing Fu, Yingjie Xia, Yangsheng Chen, Tuan Xu, Li Xu, Zhiling Guo, Haiming Xu, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Bin Zhao*. Acetylcholinesterase is a potential biomarker for a broad spectrum of organic environmental pollutants. Environmental Science & Technology 2018, 52(15): 8065-8074
  30. Wenjing Tian, Hualing Fu, Tuan Xu, Sherry Li Xu, Zhiling Guo, Jijing Tian, Wuqun Tao, Heidi Qunhui Xie, and Bin Zhao*. Slc6a19 is a novel putative gene, induced by dioxins via ahr in human hepatoma hepg2 cells. Environmental Pollution 2018, 237: 508-514.
  31. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Martina G. Vijver, Denise M. Mitrano, Heather A. Leslie, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Iseult Lynch, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Willie JGM Peijnenburg. The analytical quest for sub-micron plastics in biological matrices. Nano Today 2021, 41, 101296.
  32. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Latifeh Chupani, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Gopala Krishna Darbha, Martina G Vijver, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Willie JGM Peijnenburg. The stochastic association of nanoparticles with algae at the cellular level: Effects of NOM, particle size and particle shape. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 2021, 218, 112280
  33. Xie, Changjian, Peng Zhang*, Zhiling Guo, Xiaowei Li, Qiuxiang Pang, Kang Zheng, Xiao He, Yuhui Ma, Zhiyong Zhang, and Iseult Lynch. Elucidating the origin of the surface functionalization-dependent bacterial toxicity of graphene nanomaterials: oxidative damage, physical disruption, and cell autolysis. Science of The Total Environment 2020, 141546.
  34. Pingfan Zhou, Binbin Long, Ruisi Wang, Yaqi Jiang, Weichen Zhao, Yuanbo Li, Mingshu Li, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Yukui Rui, Iseult Lynch. Iron nanoparticles increase the active ingredients of traditional Chinese Medicine Isatis Indigotica not carbon nanotubes: a comparative study. Environmental Science: Nano 2022: DOI: 10.1039/D2EN00488G
  35. Shixin Cai, Peng Zhang, Zhiling Guo, Feng Jin, Jingyuan Wang, Zijie Song, Tcyganova Nadezhda, Iseult Lynch, and Xiuli Dang. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes improve nitrogen use efficiency and nutritional quality in Brassica campestris. Environmental Science: Nano 2022,4: 1315-1329.
  36. Changjian Xie#, Zhiling Guo#, Peng Zhang, Jie Yang, Junzhe Zhang, Yuhui Ma, Xiao He, Iseult Lynch, and Zhiyong Zhang*. Effect of CeO2 nanoparticles on plant growth and soil microcosm in a soil-plant interactive system. Environmental Pollution 2022, 118938.
  37. Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh*, Daniel Arenas-Lago, Petr Porcal, Renato Grillo, Peng Zhang, Zhiling Guo, Martina G. Vijver, Willie JGM Peijnenburg. Do the joint effects of size, shape and ecocorona influence the attachment and physical eco (cyto) toxicity of nanoparticles to algae? Nanotoxicology 2019, 1-16.
  38. Zhiling Guo, Huan Zhang, Senjie Lin*. Light-promoted rhodopsin expression and starvation survival in the marine dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marinaPloS one 2014, 9(12), e114941.
  39. Zhiling Guo, Huan Zhang, Sheng Liu, Senjie Lin*. Biology of the marine heterotrophic dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina: current status and future directions. Microorganisms 2013, 1, 33–57.
  40. Zhiling Guo, Sheng Liu, Simin Hu, Tao Li, Yousong Huang, Guangxing Liu, Huan Zhang, Senjie Lin*. Prevalent ciliate symbiosis on copepods: high genetic diversity and wide distribution detected using small subunit ribosomal RNA gene. PloS one 2012, 7(9), e44847.
  41. Simin Hu#, Zhiling Guo, Tao Li, Cuilian Xu, Hui Huang, Sheng Liu*, Senjie Lin. Molecular analysis of in situ diets of coral reef copepods: evidence of terrestrial plant detritus as a food source in Sanya Bay, China. Journal of Plankton Research 2015, 37(2), 363-371.
  42. Simin Hu#, Zhiling Guo, Tao Li, Edward J. Carpenter, Sheng Liu*, Senjie Lin. Detecting in situ copepod diet diversity using molecular technique: development of a copepod/symbiotic ciliate-excluding eukaryote-inclusive PCR protocol. PloS one 2014, 9(7), e103528.
  43. Peng Zhang*, Xinyue Wu, Zhiling Guo, Xiaonan Yang, Xiangang Hu, Iseult Lynch. Graphene Quantum Dots: Stress Response and Nutrient Homeostasis in Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) Exposed to Graphene Quantum Dots Are Modulated by Particle Surface Functionalization. Advanced Biology 2021, 5(4), 2170042
  44. Mingshu Li, Peng Zhang, Muhammad Adeel, Zhiling Guo, Andrew J. Chetwynd, Chuanxin Ma, Tonghao Bai, Yi Hao, Yukui Rui*. Physiological impacts of zero valent iron, Fe3O4 and Fe2O3 nanoparticles in rice plants and their potential as Fe fertilizers. Environmental Pollution 2021, 269, 116134.
  45. Tonghao Bai, Peng Zhang*, Zhiling Guo, Andrew J. Chetwynd, Mei Zhang, Muhammad Adeel, Mingshu Li, Kerui Guo, Ruize Gao, Jianwei Li, Yi Hao, Yukui Rui*. Different physiological responses of C3 and C4 plants to nanomaterials, Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2021, 28(20), 25542-25551.
  46. Yaoyao Wang, Peng Zhang*, Mingshu Li, Zhiling Guo, Sami Ullah, Yukui Rui*, Iseult Lynch. Alleviation of nitrogen stress in rice (Oryza sativa) by ceria nanoparticles. Environmental Science: Nano 2020, 7, 2930-2940.
  47. Cuilian Xu, Simin Hu, Zhiling Guo, Tao Li, Hui Huang, Leo Lai Chan, Sheng Liu*. Flexible feeding patterns of copepod Centropages tenuiremis in fluctuating conditions: a possible survival strategy to cope with disturbance. Acta Oceanologica Sinica 2020, 39(2), 59-68.
  48. Peng Zhang*, Yuhui Ma, Changjian Xie, Zhiling Guo, Xiao He, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Iseult Lynch, Wenhe Luo, Lirong Zheng, Zhiyong Zhang*. Plant species-dependent transformation and translocation of ceria nanoparticles. Environmental Science: Nano 2019, 6(1): 60-67.
  49. Sheng Liu, Zhiling Guo, Tao Li, Hui Huang, Senjie Lin. Photosynthetic efficiency, cell volume, and elemental stoichiometric ratios in Thalassirosira weissflogii under phosphorus limitation. Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology 2011, 29(5): 1048.
  50. Sheng Liu*, Tao Li, Hui Huang, Zhiling Guo, LiangMin Huang, WenXiong Wang. Feeding efficiency of a marine copepod Acartia erythraea on eight different algal diets. Acta Ecologica Sinica 2010, 30: 22-26.
  51. Simin Hu, Sheng Liu, Tao Li, Zhiling Guo. Advances in feeding ecology of Acartia. Acta. Ecologica. Sinica. 2012, 32(18): 5871-5877 (In Chinese).

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