Plants for Human Health Institute
Area(s) of Expertise
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.
- Overcoming cellulose recalcitrance in woody biomass for the lignin-first biorefinery, BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS (2019)
- Comprehensive transcriptome analyses correlated with untargeted metabolome reveal differentially expressed pathways in response to cell wall alterations, Plant Molecular Biology (2018)
- Discovering variation of secondary metabolite diversity and its relationship with disease resistance in Cornus florida L., Ecology and Evolution (2018)
- Exploiting natural variation for accelerating discoveries in plant specialized metabolism, Phytochemistry Reviews (2018)
- Identification of a residue responsible for UPD-sugar donor selectivity of a dihydroxybenzoic acid glycosyltransferase from arabidopsis natural accessions, Plant Journal (2017)
- Thiazolopyridines improve adipocyte function by inhibiting 11 Beta-HSD1 oxoreductase activity, Journal of Chemistry (2017)
- A gene encoding maize caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase confers quantitative resistance to multiple pathogens, Nature Genetics (2017)
- Impacts on sirtuin function and bioavailability of the dietary bioactive compound dihydrocoumarin, PLoS One (2016)
- Black currant anthocyanins attenuate weight gain and improve glucose metabolism in diet-induced obese mice with intact, but not disrupted, gut microbiome, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2015)
- Discovery of a novel amino acid racemase through exploration of natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2015)
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Purdue University (2005)
M.S., Plant Physiology, Peking University, Bejing, China (2000)
B.S., Plant Molecular and Developmental Biology, Peking University, Bejing, China (1997)