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Senior Scientist

Yubing Li

Education and work

  • BS in Microbiology. Nankai University, Tianjin, China (1997)
  • MS in Microbiology. Nankai university, Tianjin, China (2000)
  • PhD in Plant Molecular and Cell Biology. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China (2004)
  • Postgraduate researcher. University of California, Riverside, CA (2006)
  • Postdoctoral research associate. The Salk institute, San Diego, CA (2012)
  • Senior research biologist. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (2017)
  • Senior scientist. The Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Alachua, FL (2018-current)

Research summary

My research covers three main areas: 1) developing synthetic cells that could operate Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System (AEGIS) in vivo through synthetic biology and cell engineering; 2) developing novel biopharmaceuticals using AEGIS nucleosides and nucleotides through in vitro evolution and enzymatic reactions; 3) study endosymbiosis and eukaryotic cell evolution through experimental paleogenetic strategy and chloroplast protein transport systems.

Current projects include:

  • Engineer a biosynthetic pathway to synthesize AEGIS nucleoside triphosphates in E.coli or other cell systems supporting ATGCKX 6-letter DNA replication in vivo.
  • Synthesize alpha-32P labeled AEGIS nucleoside triphosphates through coupled enzymatic reactions and apply them in various in vitro or in vivo assay.
  • Study and engineer DNA polymerases and kinases to support and detect ATGCKX 6-letter DNA replication in vivo and in vitro.
  • Develop molecular tools for biomedical applications through in-vitro evolution and characterization of aptamers from nucleic acid libraries containing modified AEGIS nucleotides.
  • Resurrect chloroplast ancestral proteins through phylogenetic studies and test their ability for translocation into chloroplasts under fold and unfold status to understand the early steps of endosymbiosis and the transition from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotes.

Recent Publications


Metabolic reconstructions identify plant 3-methylglutaconyl-CoA hydratase that is crucial for branched-chain amino acid catabolism in mitochondria
Latimer S., Li Y., Nguyen T.TH., Soubeyrand E., Fatihi A., Elowsky C.G., Block A., Pichersky E., Basset G.J.
Plant J. (2018) 95 (2), 358-370. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13955


Identification of Putative Substrates of SEC2, a Chloroplast Inner Envelope Translocase
Li Y., Martin J.R., Aldama G.A., Fernadez D.E. and Cline K.
Plant Physiol , Oxford (2017) 173(4): 2121-2137. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00012.


A new class of cyclin dependent kinase in Chlamydomonas is required for coupling cell size to cell division
Li Y., Liu D, López-Paz C., Olson B.J., Umen J.G.
eLife , Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society, and Wellcome Trust (2016) 25; 5: e10767. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10767


The Sec2 translocase of the chloroplast inner envelope contains a unique and dedicated SECE2 component
Li Y., Singhal R., Taylor W. Isaiah., McMinn H.P., Chua X.Y., Cline K., and Fernandez D. E.
Plant J. (2015) 84: 647-658, DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13028


The maize tapetum employs diverse mechanisms to synthesize and store proteins and flavonoids and transfer them to the pollen surface
Li Y., Suen D.F., Huang C.Y., Kung, S.Y. and Huang A.H.C.
Plant Physiol , Oxford (2012) 158: 1548-1561, DOI: 10.1104/pp.111.189241

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