Yi Li

Professor of Horticultural Plant Biotechnology

Professional Credentials

  • PhD, 1989, Plant Physiology & Biochemistry, Department of Biology, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, NY, USA.
  • BS, 1982, Forestry, Department of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China.

    Areas of Interest

    • Horticultural Plant Improvement
    • Plant Breeding Technology Development
    • Turf Grasses, Burning Bush

    Research Programs

    • Horticultural Plant Improvement using:
      • a. Traditional Mutation Breeding Techniques: A conventional approach that involves inducing mutations for development of new plant varieties. b. Gene-Editing Technologies: Modern CRISPR technologies that allow for precise modifications to genomes for development of new plant varieties. c. Transgenic Technologies: Methods that involve introducing foreign genes into plants for development of new plant varieties.
    • Plant Breeding Technology Development including:
      • a. Transgene-Free Gene Editing: Methods that modify genomes without inserting foreign genes. b. Genetic Transformation and Versatile Trait Genes: New or improved genetic transformation methods and trait gene development. c. Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery: Method of introducing RNA and DNA into plants using nanoparticles.
    • Sample Plant Species and Traits: 
      • Turf Grasses: Minimal mowing requirements; Minimal or no need for fertilization and irrigation; Rapid seed germination; Reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with lawn care. b. Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus): Development of non-invasive varieties.

    Teaching Program

    • SPSS 3245/PLSC 5245 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
    • SPSS 3255/PLSC 5255 Modern & Traditional Plant Breeding Techniques


    Yi Li has published over 100 research articles/reviews/book chapters and discoveries being incorporated into seven textbooks and highlighted by “Faculty of 1000″. His lab has developed a number of well known biotechnologies and new horticultural plant cultivars. His GMO-free CRISPR method/publication has been nominated by Editors-in-Chief of Springer-Nature’s journals as one of the articles (research) that “could help change the world.” https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-018-0023-4

    His research accomplishments were publicized by thousands of national and international media vehicles including USA Today and websites of ABC News and CBS. He has received $12-million research grants and delivered 170 invited conference lectures or seminars. He served as an associate editor for four intentional journals, and organized more than 10 conferences/symposia. He has served as a panel member for NIH, NASA, DOE, USDA, NSF, US National Academy of Sciences and a number of international scientific agencies. He founded New England Invasive Plant Center with 11 faculty scientists from the New England region universities to develop solutions for invasive ornamentals. He is a recipient of Excellence in Research Award of CAHNR of University of Connecticut. He has been elected a Fellow of American Society of Horticultural Sciences.

    Contact Information
    CV Yi-Li-CV-2024-6-18
    Mailing AddressTransgenic Plant Facility 105 Ahern Lane, Unit 5082 Storrs, CT 06269