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.
Watch a video introduction of Dr. Li and his research.Publications | Lab Staff
Xu Li, Hilal Ilarslan, Libuse Brachova, Hui-Rong Qian, Ling Li, Ping Che, Eve Syrkin Wurtele and Basil J. Nikolau (2011) Reverse genetic analysis of the two biotin-containing subunit genes of the heteromeric acetyl-CoA carboxylase in Arabidopsis thaliana indicates a unidirectional functional redundancy. Plant Physiology. 155: 293-314.
Xu Li, Eduardo Ximenes, Youngmi Kim, Mary Slininger, Richard Meilan, Michael Ladisch and Clint Chapple (2010) Lignin monomer composition affects Arabidopsis cell-wall degradability after liquid hot water pretreatment. Biotechnol Biofuels. 3: 27.
Xu Li and Clint Chapple (2010) Understanding lignification: challenges beyond monolignol biosynthesis. Plant Physiology. 154: 449-452.
Xu Li, Nicholas D. Bonawitz, Jing-Ke Weng and Clint Chapple (2010) The growth reduction associated with repressed lignin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana is independent of flavonoids. Plant Cell. 22: 1620-1632.
Jing-Ke Weng, Takuya Akiyama, Nicholas D. Bonawitz, Xu Li, John Ralph, and Clint Chapple (2010) Convergent evolution of syringyl lignin biosynthesis via distinct pathways in the lycophyte selaginella and flowering plants. Plant Cell. 22: 1033-1045.
Xu Li, Joy Bergelson and Clint Chapple (2010) The Arabidopsis accession Pna-10 is a naturally occurring sng1 deletion mutant. Mol Plant. 3: 91-100.
Xu Li, Jing-Ke Weng and Clint Chapple (2008) Improvement of biomass through lignin modification. Plant J. 54: 569-581.
Jing-Ke Weng, Xu Li, Nicholas D Bonawitz and Clint Chapple (2008) Emerging strategies of lignin engineering and degradation for cellulosic biofuel production. Curr Opin Biotechnology. 19: 166-172.
Jing-Ke Weng, Xu Li, Jake Stout and Clint Chapple (2008) Independent origins of syringyl lignin in vascular plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 105: 7887-7892.