Plant Metabolic Pathway Engineer
Dr. Xu “Sirius” Li’s research interests focus on plant secondary metabolism. Plants can produce a large array of diverse specialized metabolites, many of which are known to have beneficial effects on human health. Understanding how these compounds are made and accumulated in plants will enable us to produce crops, vegetables and fruits for enhanced health-promoting properties.
Dr. Li is working to identify novel plant secondary metabolites and to discover the genes and pathways for the biosynthesis of these compounds using natural accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. This research will not only advance our understanding of plant secondary metabolism in the model plant Arabidopsis, but will also lead to the development of an integrated metabolomics, genetics and genomics discovery platform that can be applied to gain insight in the biochemical pathways and gene networks involved in the accumulation of bioactive compounds in crops, vegetables and fruits.
Metabolic engineering of secondary metabolism holds great promise for plant improvement; however, perturbation of some pathway leads to a detrimental effect on plant growth and development. Another research area of Dr. Li’s is to elucidate the mechanism that underlies such an effect. The knowledge gained from this research is essential to achieve specific metabolic engineering goals while minimizing the negative impact on plant fitness.
- Maize Homologs of HCT, a Key Enzyme in Lignin Biosynthesis, Bind the NLR Rp1 Proteins to Modulate the Defense Response, 2015
- Discovery of a novel amino acid racemase through exploration of natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana., 2015
- Blackcurrant anthocyanins attenuate weight gain and improve glucose metabolism in diet-induced obese mice with intact, but not disrupted, gut microbiome, 2015
- Exploiting natural variation of secondary metabolism identifies a gene controlling the glycosylation diversity of dihydroxybenzoic acids in Arabidopsis thaliana., 2014
- Chemically induced conditional rescue of the reduced epidermal fluorescence8 mutant of Arabidopsis reveals rapid restoration of growth and selective turnover of secondary metabolite pools., 2014
- Forward Genetics by Genome Sequencing Reveals that Rapid Cyanide Release Deters Insect Herbivory of Sorghum bicolor, 2013
- crw1- A Novel Maize Mutant Highly Susceptible to Foliar Damage by the Western Corn Rootworm Beetle, 2013
- Constitutive expression of the Corngrass1 microRNA in poplar affects plant architecture and stem lignin content and composition, 2012
- Reverse-Genetic Analysis of the Two Biotin-Containing Subunit Genes of the Heteromeric Acetyl-Coenzyme A Carboxylase in Arabidopsis Indicates a Unidirectional Functional Redundancy, 2011