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Li Li

Li Li

Adjunct Professor

140 Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health
(607) 255-5708

Li is an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. She is also a USDA-ARS Research Molecular Biologist at the Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health on the Cornell campus. Li Li received her Ph.D. degree in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry from the University of Reading in England. Her research program focuses mainly on gene discovery and elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying phytonutrient biosynthesis and micronutrient metabolism, as well as plant biotechnology and biofortification of food crops. The ultimate goal of her research is to improve the nutritional quality and health-promoting properties of food crops.

Research Focus

Li Li’s research projects are in a number of areas (carotenoids, flavonoids, and micronutrients) associated with crop nutritional quality improvement. Primary research focuses on carotenoid metabolism. Using vegetables and fruits as model systems, the lab studies how high level of carotenoid accumulation is regulated in plants. Omics techniques are employed to identify new factors that control carotenoid metabolism. The lab also uses mutants of vegetable crops as models to gain a better understanding of the regulatory control of flavonoid metabolism in plants and identify key genes controlling flavonoid biosynthesis. Another interest is in isolating metabolic and regulatory genes promoting the formation of bioactive forms of selenium and sulfur compounds in Brassica vegetables. In addition, the lab works on micronutrient biofortification in staple crops. Plant biotechnology approach is utilized to introduce the genes important for carotenoid, flavonoid, and micronutrient metabolism into crops for better understanding of the gene functions and for enhancing the nutritional value of food crops. Functional alleles of newly discovered genes are searched for crop nutritional quality improvement through traditional breeding.

Teaching Focus

Nutritional Quality Improvement of Food Crops

Additional Links

Selected Publications

  • Yuan H, Owsiany K, Sheeja T, Zhou X, Rodriguez C, Li Y, Welsch R, Chayut N, Yang Y,  Thannhauser TW, Partjasaratju MV, Xu Q, Deng X, Fei Z, Schaffer A, Katzir N, Burger J, Tadmor Y, Li L. (2015) A single amino acid substitution of the orange protein causes carotenoid accumulation in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 169:421-431
  • Yuan H, Zhang J, Coimbatore D, Li L (2015) Carotenoid metabolism and regulation in horticultural crops. Horticulture Research 2:15036
  • Zhou X, Welsch R, Yang Y, Riediger M, Álvarez D, Yuan H, Fish T, Liu J, Thannhauser TW, Li L (2015) Arabidopsis OR proteins are the major post-transcriptional regulators of phytoene synthase in mediating carotenoid biosynthesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112:3558-3563
  • Tzuri G*, Zhou X*, Chayut N*, Yuan H, Portnoy V, Meir A, Saar U, Baumkoler F, Yuan H, Mazourek M, Lewinsohn E, Fei Z, Schaffer AA, Li L, Burger J, Katzir N. Tadmor Y. (2015) A “golden” SNP in CmOr governs fruit flesh color in melon (Cucumis melo). The Plant Journal 82:267-279
  • Nisar N, Li L, Lu S, Khin NC, Pogson BJ (2015) Carotenoid metabolism in plants. Molecular Plant 8, 68-82
  • Souza GA, Hart JJ, Carvalho JG, Rutzke M, Albrecht JC, Guilherme LRG, Kochian LV, Li L (2014) Genotypic variation of zinc and selenium content in grains of Brazilian wheat lines. Plant Science 224: 27-35
  • Avila FW, Yang Y, Faquin V, Ramos SJ, Guilherme LRG, Thannhauser TW, Li L (2014) Impact of selenium supply on Se-methylselenocysteine and glucosinolate accumulation in selenium-biofortified Brassica sprouts. Food Chemistry 165:578-586
  • Li L, Tadmor Y, Xu Q (2014) Approaches for vegetable and fruit quality trait improvement. In Plant Biotechnology – Experience and Future Prospects (Edited by A. Richoch, S Chopra, S Fleischer). Springer, Chapter 18, pp227-243