Li Yu: The Plant Cell First Author

Li Yu, first author of “Eudicot primary cell wall glucomannan is related in synthesis, structure and function to xyloglucan”

Current position: Research Associate at University of Cambridge with Prof. Paul Dupree.

Education: PhD in Biochemistry Department from the Northeast Normal University, China with Prof. Yifa Zhou. Visiting student at University of Leeds with Prof. Paul Knox.

Non-scientific interests: Gymnastics, running, cooking, reading and being a mom.

Brief bio: My plant cell wall scientific journey started from my PhD at Zhou’s lab where I mainly used biochemical methods to extract and analyse the structures of pectin from the traditional Chinese medicine, Ginseng. During this time, I visited Prof. Knox’s lab for one year and learned to use antibodies to study the structure and function of cell wall polymers in planta. My PhD time sparked my interest in plant cell wall research.

I then worked at Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy & Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy Of Sciences. My research here focused on the identification of novel regulators of polysaccharide structure using Arabidopsis seed mucilage mutants. I found tiny amounts of mannan could change the seed mucilage architecture. I wondered about the mannan structure and how the mannan interacts with other polymers and then affects the seed mucilage architecture.

I was inspired by the excellent xylan-cellulose work from the Dupree lab, so I joined his group for mannan structure and function studies. The Dupree group has a wide range of research interests, all of which are united by the goal to better understand polysaccharide functions and interactions in the plant cell wall and the molecular mechanisms for plant cell wall assembly. Here in Dupree group I have the chance to further deepen my interests with a focus on the mannan polysaccharide structure, biosynthesis, and functions in planta.