Leon Li

Research Interests

Leon is affiliated with the Aboobaker Regeneration Lab

Growing human population and economic development have resulted in increased demand for marine crustaceans as a food source. Crustacean aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry, and the most difficult challenge it faces is the increased threat of pathogen outbreaks that have significant social and economic impacts. The goal of my study is to develop a model system to study crustacean immunity more easily in a laboratory setting, this will provide a better understanding of crustacean immunity and build a pathway to impact how we can mitigate the impact of pathogen outbreaks in crustacean food crop species. I am using Parhyale hawaiensis and pathogenic Vibrio spp. bacteria to develop a model infection system.

I have successfully established a basic infection paradigm between pathogen and host. I’m currently working on identifying the systemic molecular pathways that are activated upon infection and understanding pathway and time-course of infection within the animal. In the future I am planning to identify the specific response to infection within the hemocyte population and to use transgenic approaches to study the roles of immune regulatory and effector proteins. Together, these studies will establish a tractable laboratory system to study crustacean immunity and give us new insights in both mechanisms and biomarkers that should be relevant to improve the aquaculture of food crop species.

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