2017 AGRO Award for Innovation in Chemistry of Agriculture

Sponsored by BASF Corporation

Applications of proteomics, metabolomics, and immunoassays in agricultural and environmental chemistry

Qing X. Li was born in China and came to the US in 1986. He received his B.S. in Agriculture from Shandong Agricultural University at Taian, China in 1982. Dr. Li received his Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental chemistry from the University of California at Davis in 1990 and then post-doctoral training in the University of California at Berkeley. He joined the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1995 as an assistant professor, was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1999 and to full professor in 2002. He was director of the pesticide residue chemistry laboratory at University of Hawaii at Manoa from 1995 to 2013. Since 2011, Qing has served as director of UH Proteomics Core Facility, funded by NIH. Since 2015, he has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Qing’s research is centered on agrochemicals with an emphasis on immunoassay, bioremediation, proteomics, metabolomics, and phytopharmaceuticals. His research has resulted in over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications which have been cited for more than 6000 times. His current H-index by google scholar is 40 and his current i10-index is 149. His research has resulted in approximately 80 publications concenring immunoassays for 42 different agrochemicals including pesticides and food additives. He and his colleagues discovered π-cation interactions (not to be confused with cation-π interaction) between an antibody and the target molecule as a mechanism of molecular recognition.

In the area of environmental remediation, Qing’s research group studied how to integrate and use sunlight (photolysis), ozone (ozonation), novel catalysts, extracellular enzymes, and microorganisms to break down toxic chemicals and reduce the risk to humans and wildlife. His group has published more than 50 papers in bioremediation, identified 10 new bacterial species, and elucidated novel biotransformation pathways of agrochemicals in the bacterial species. His bioremediation research focuses on catabolic mechanisms of pesticides and persistent pollutants.

Qing has advanced proteomics in various areas of agricultural and environmental applications. His team used multi-omics approaches including proteomics and metabolomics to elucidate mechanisms of microbial degradation of agrochemicals and petroleum byproducts. His team successfully demonstrated mass spectrometry-based protein barcoding for food authentication and bacterial identification and classification. His current research group is also investigating palm peroxidase and glycoproteomics. They recently reported workflow, biological mass spectrometry and bioinformatics methods to quantitative site-specific N-glycosylation of palm peroxidase. Those tools and workflows that can be readily modified by the end-users to study plant protein N-glycosylation and physiological functions of N-glycosylation, thus to increase crops to resist stresses and increase yields. Recently, he and his colleagues discovered C-glycosylflavones for Alzheimer’s disease treatment and elucidated the novel mechanism of action being selective modulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β via an ATP noncompetitive inhibition.

Qing has routinely taught an undergraduate course on environmental biochemistry and a graduate course on advanced laboratory techniques. He has mentored 18 M.S. students, 20 Ph.D. students, 27 post-doctoral fellows and 20 researchers. He has hosted 34 visiting professors and scholars for research.