Xu “Sirius” Li

Title: Associate Professor
Plant Metabolic Pathway Engineer
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

Ph.D., Iowa State University
M.S., Peking University, Beijing, China
B.S., Peking University, Beijing, China

Email: xli24@ncsu.edu
Phone: 704-250-5460


Lab Personnel:

Samantha Case, Graduate Student

Han-Yi Chen, Senior Research Scholar

Amanda Wager, Postdoctoral Research Associate


More information about Xu “Sirius” Li

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.

Job Openings in the Li Lab:


The Plants for Human Health Institute at NC State University is seeking a highly motivated and talented scientist to fill a two-year Postdoctoral Research Scholar position in Dr. Sirius Li’s lab. This position is expected to actively advance the research of the following possible projects; 1) understanding the mechanism of lignin-modification-induced-dwarfism by characterizing recently isolated suppressor mutants, and 2) natural variation guided characterization of genes/enzymes in plant specialized metabolism.

A Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., M.D., D.V.M., Sc.D.) in Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Developmental Biology, or related fields, awarded no more than five years from initial date of postdoctoral appointment is required.

An ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Background in Arabidopsis genetics, developmental biology, or specialized metabolism.
  • Experience in study of transcription factors and skills in ChIP-seq, protein interaction assays, or recombinant protein expression and enzyme assays.
  • Experience in contributing to the writing of research publications, grant applications, and research progress reports.

This position is located in Kannapolis, NC at the NC Research Campus.