Jing Li

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Biography

Jing holds a PhD from Adelaide University and currently works as a Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. Jing has work experience in both commercial and academic environments, where she has undertaken research in world-class centres. Her research includes dissecting mechanisms that underpin cellulose and callose biosynthesis in plants; functionality studies of enzymes involved in starch metabolism using a plant model system; and recently, employing metabolic engineering approaches, focusing on strategies to improve plant quality, produce bio-energy and bio-materials and functional foods. In her current project, She has used gene transfer technology to produce transgenic plants with modified phytosterols. These novel sterols may have applications in insect resistance and human nutrition. A patent application is being evaluated. In addition to her technical expertise in research, she also has experience in the food and grain processing industries. She has a strong entrepreneurial approach, based on firm knowledge and experience. She actively assists the Australian agricultural sector to secure new opportunities and to enhance international competitiveness and value.

Research Interests

Employment of gene transfer technology to improve crop quality and production, and to produce functional food.

Current Projects

Modifying plant sterol metabolism to control insect pests

New approaches are required to control insect pests which cause enormous global crop losses. Phytophagous insects are incapable of synthesizing cholesterol which is an essential molecule for many important biological functions. In particular, cholesterol is a precursor of the molting hormone. Insects rely on converting host phytosterols to cholesterol via a unique dealkylation pathway. There are stringent structural demands if the phytosterol is to be used as substrate for dealkylation, therefore some phytosterols cannot be utilised by insects. This important pest-host interaction provides a unique platform from which to explore the opportunity for a new insect pest control strategy. We are developing a novel control system which we call “Sterol Interference”.

We have genetically modified Arabidopsis plants with specific sterol biosynthetic genes that synthesize non-utilisable sterols in sufficient quantities without apparent effects on plant growth. Insects reared on the modified Arabidopsis plants tend to have delayed growth. Transgenic plants are also undergoing further physiological and ecological evaluations. The transformation of these genes into agricultural crops such as cotton, rice and canola is progressing and has the potential to save billions of dollars in insect control.

Publications

B1: Book Chapter (Commercial)

Liu, F., Murphy, J., Li, J. 2017, Country of Origin, Country Image, and Wine in Shaping International Public Opinion: A Model for Nation Branding & Public Diplomacy, Peter Lang, New York, United States

C1: Journal Article (Schol Refereed Journal)

Li, J., Zhou, W., Francisco, P., Wong, R., Zhang, D, Smith, S. M. 2017, ‘Inhibition of Arabidopsis chloroplast β-amylase BAM3 by maltotriose suggests a mechanism for the control of transitory leaf starch mobilisation’, Plos One, in Press.

Lu, Y., Zhou, W., Wei, L., Li, J., Jia, J., Li, F., Xu, J., Smith, S.M. 2014, 'Regulation of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway and its integration with fatty acid biosynthesis in the oleaginous microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica', Biotechnology for Biofuels, 7, 1, pp. 81.

FRANCISCO, P., LI, J., SMITH, S.M. 2010, 'The gene encoding the catalytically inactive β-amylase BAM4 involved in starch breakdown in Arabidopsis leaves is expressed preferentially in vascular tissues in source and sink organs', Journal of Plant Physiology, 167, pp. 890-895. Li, J., Francisco, P., Zhou, W., Edner, C., Steup, M., Ritte, G., Bond, C. S,, Smith, S. M. 2009, ‘Catalytically-inactive β-amylase BAM4 required for starch breakdown in Arabidopsis leaves is a starch-binding-protein’, Arch Biochem Biophys, 489(1-2), pp. 92-98

FULTON, D.C., STETTLER, M., METTLER, T., VAUGHAN, C.K., LI, J., FRANCISCO, P., GIL, M., REINHOLD, H., EICKE, S., MESSERLI, G., DORKEN, G., HALLIDAY, K., SMITH, A.M., SMITH, S.M., ZEEMAN, S.C. 2008, 'β-Amylase4, a noncatalytic protein required for starch breakdown, acts upstream of three active β-amylases in Arabidopsis chloroplasts', The Plant Cell, 20, 4, pp. 1040-1058.

EDNER, C., LI, J., ALBRECHT, T., MAHLOW, S., HEJAZI, M., HUSSAIN, H., KAPLAN, F., GUY, C., SMITH, S.M., STEUP, M., RITTE, G. 2007, 'Glucan, water dikinase activity stimulates breakdown of starch granules by plastidial β-amylases', Plant Physiology, 145, 1, pp. 17-28.

Li, J., Burton, R.A., Harvey, A.J., Hrmova, M., Wardak, A.Z., Stone, B.A., Fincher, G.B. 2003, 'Biochemical evidence linking a putative callose synthase gene with (1-3)-β-D-glucan biosynthesis in barley', Plant Molecular Biology, 53, 1-2, pp. 213-225.

E1: Full Refereed Conference Publication

Zhou, W., Li, J., Smith, S.M., Zhang, D. 2013, 'Metabolic Engineering of Arabidopsis Plant to Produce Triterpenoid Hydrocarbons for Biofuel', Chemeca 2013, Barton, ACT, 1, pp. 875-878.

Contact Details

Jing Li (Research Fellow)

School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

The University of Western Australia

Crawley, WA 6009, Perth, Australia

Phone: 08 6488 2205

Email: jing.li@uwa.edu.au