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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

We are interested in using molecular and genetic approaches to enhance the nutritional quality and health-promoting properties of food crops. Our research program concentrates on discovering new genetic elements that control phytonutrient and micronutrient levels in crops, investigating the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms, biofortifying nutrients in crops, and plant biotechnology to metabolically engineer them in crops. Current research projects focus primarily on carotenoids, flavonoids, glucosinolates, selenium, and zinc in plants.

We use vegetables and fruits as model systems to study how the biosynthesis and accumulation of carotenoids, flavonoids, and glucosinolates are controlled in plants. An integration of genetic, molecular, physiological and omics approaches is employed to investigate the quality traits in crops as well as to discover and functional characterize genes and proteins important for these phytonutrient metabolism. We also use Brassica and staple crops as model systems to study selenium and zinc nutrition and examine the factors affecting their uptake and accumulation to provide information for biofortification of them in crops. It is our goal to identify novel genetic tools and reveal new strategies for improving crop nutritional quality.

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