Argelia Lorence - Full Professor in Metabolic Engineering

Argelia Profile
Phone: 870-680-4322
Address: Arkansas Biosciences Institute at Arkansas State University | PO Box 639 | State University, AR 72467


ASU, Joint Appointment: Chemistry and Physics, Arkansas Biosciences Institute
Co-PI, A-State Phenomics Core Lead and Model 3 Lead for the Plant Imaging Consortium

Cluster Identification:
- Comparative Metabolomics Cluster
- Plant Productivity 'Set-Points' Cluster
- Plant Interactions with Other Organisms Cluster

Research Areas/Expertise:
- Abiotic Stress
- Antioxidants
- Gene Regulation & Signal Transduction
- Plant Secondary Metabolism/ Metabolomics/ Metabolic Engineering
- Phytochemicals & Human Health
- Plant Genetics/ Breeding
- Plant Environmental Physiology
- Plant-Made Industrial/ Pharmaceutical Proteins
- Plant Tissue Culture
- Protein Processing & Trafficking
- Transformation Technologies


Research Summary | Selected Publications | Lab Members | Key Collaborators | Research Projects | Links

Research Summary:

The metabolism of aerobic organisms leads to various risks for oxidative damage, due to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These highly reactive molecules are also formed as a result of abiotic and biotic stress factors. In low amounts ROS play key roles as signaling molecules, however, in excess they cause harmful effects. Plants have developed strategies to keep ROS under control. The ability to detoxify ROS is accomplished in part by vitamin C and glutathione. Plants have evolved at least four different pathways to make vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid, AsA). These routes use D-mannose/L-galactose, D-galacturonate, L-gulose and myo-inositol as main precursors. 

Lorence and her colleagues at Virginia Tech discovered the inositol pathway to AsA. This route involves four enzymes: myo-inositol oxygenase (MIOX), glucuronate reductase (GlcUR), gluconolactonase (GNL), and L-gulono-1,4-lactone oxidase (GLOase). The Lorence Laboratory uses genetic, biochemical and physiological approaches to study the function of AsA in plant growth, abiotic and biotic stress responses. Our main models of study are Arabidopsis thaliana (mouse ear cress), rice (Oryza sativa) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum).  Our long term goals are to understand  how the AsA metabolic network is regulated and to study the role of the chloroplastic, ER and mitochondrial subcellular AsA pools in the underlying biochemical mechanisms leading to tolerance to oxidative stress and delayed senescence. A list of ongoing projects is presented below.

Selected Publications:

1.Lisko KA, Aboobucker SI, Torres R, Lorence A (2014) Engineering elevated vitamin C in plants to improve their nutritional content, growth, and tolerance to abiotic stress. In “Phythochemicals – Biosynthesis, Function and Application” R Jetter (ed). Recent Advances in Phytochemistry 44: 109-128.

2. Lisko KA, Torres R, Harris RS, Belisle M, Jullian B, Vaughan MM, Chevone BI, Mendes P, Nessler CL, Lorence A (2013) Elevating vitamin C content via overexpression of myo-inositol oxygenase and L-gulono-1,4-lactone oxidase in Arabidopsis leads to enhanced biomass and tolerance to stresses. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology Plant 49: 643-655.

3. Avila CA, Arévalo-Solíz ML, Lorence A, Goggin FL (2013) Expression of α-DIOXYGENASE 1 in tomato and Arabidopsis contributes to plant defenses against aphids. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 26(8):977-986.

4. Lisko KA, Hubstenberger J, Phillips G, Belefant-Miller H, McClung A, Lorence A (2013). Ontogenetic changes in vitamin C in selected rice varieties. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 66: 41-46.

5. Haroldsen V, Chi-Ham CL, Kulkarni S, Lorence A, and Bennet AB (2011) Constitutively expressed DHAR and MDHAR influence fruit, but not foliar ascorbate levels in tomato. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 49: 1244-1249.

6. Goggin FL, Avila CA, and Lorence A (2010) Vitamin C content in plants is modified by insects and influence susceptibility to herbivory. BioEssays 32: 777-790.

7. Suza WP, Avila CA, Carruthers K, S Kulkarni, Goggin FL, and Lorence A (2010) Exploring the Impact of Wounding and Jasmonates on Ascorbate Metabolism. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 48: 337-350.

8. Zhang W, Lorence A, Gruszewski HA, Chevone BI and Nessler CL (2009) AMR1, an Arabidopsis gene that coordinately and negatively regulates the mannose/L-galactose ascorbic acid biosynthetic pathway. Plant Physiology 150: 942-950.

9. Lorence A, Mendes P, Chevone BI, and Nessler CL (2004) myo- Inositol Oxygenase Offers a Possible Entry Point into Plant Ascorbate Biosynthesis. Plant Physiology 134: 1200-1205.

Lab Members:



Argelia Lorence, PhD, Arkansas Biosciences Institute
Full Professor, Metabolic Engineering; Chemistry and Physics; 870-680-4322

Current Lab Members         


Dr. Suxing Liu
Post-doctoral Research Associate
Affiliated to the Plant Imaging Consortium
Expertise in image analysis; 870-680-4323

Jessica Yactayo-Chang
Ph.D. student (Molecular Biosciences Program); 870-680-4323

Lucia Acosta-Gamboa
Ph.D. student working for the Plant Imaging Consortium; 870-680-4323

Nirman Nepal
Ph.D. student (Molecular Biosciences Program)
Affiliated to the Plant Imaging Consortium;870-680-4323

Zachary Campbell
Scanalyzer Research Assistant, Plant Imaging Consortium 
Plant high throughput phenotyping; 870-680-4323

Sonia Elizabeth Castillo (M.S. Environmental Sciences)
Graduated: December 2015
Thesis: “Assessing foliar ascorbate content in a rice diversity panel and in selected mapping population lines with varying levels of seedling cold tolerance”
Now: Research assistant; 870-680-4323

Nathan Tripod (BS Interdisciplinary Studies)
Graduated: May 2015
Now: Research assistant; 870-680-4322

Austin Wilkie
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Vitamin C metabolism in Arabidopsis; 870-680-4323
Molly Tibbs
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Water stress tolerance in rice; 870-680-4323

Kendl Fischer
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Salt tolerance in rice; 870-680-4323

Ross Grant
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Salt tolerance in rice; 870-680-4323

Alaina Smith
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Salt tolerance in rice; 870-680-4323

Erin Langley
Undergraduate Student Researcher
Arabidopsis/maize phenotyping; 870-680-4323

Past Students

Dr. Katherine A. Lisko
Graduated: December 2013
Thesis: “Engineering elevated vitamin C content in rice (Oryza sativa) to improve abiotic stress tolerance”
Now: Senior Research Scientist, DuPont Pioneer, Union City, TN

Dr. Siddique I Aboobucker
Graduated: August 2014
Thesis: “Identification and characterization of a functional L-gulono-1,4-lactone oxidase in Arabidopsis thaliana
Now: Post-doctoral Research Associate, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Karina Medina
Visiting Scholar (June - Dec. 2015)
PhD student - Universidad Veracruzana
Main advisor: Dr. Mario Arteaga

Shashank Kulkarni (MS Chemistry)
Graduated: May 2012
Thesis: Elevating ascorbate content in tomato and studying the role of jasmonates in modulating ascorbate in Arabidopsis"
Now: PhD student, Medicinal Chemistry, Northeastern University, August 2012 to date

Satya Veena Tatambhotla

Satya Veena Tatambhotla
Graduated May 2013 (MS in Biotechnology)
Now: Researcher, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Hyderabad, India

Jonathan A. Radin 
Graduated: December 2013 (BS in Chemistry)
Now: Lab Assistant, BioStrategies LC

Raquel Torres (BS Biology)
Laboratory manager (Jan. 2012 - April 2013)
Now: Works as a nurse after obtaining nursing degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Kayla Parker (BA Chemistry)
Graduated: December 2013
Now: Works in industry (Nalco Champion, Corsicana, TX)

Jazmin Martin (BS Chemistry)
Graduated: May 2014
Now: Graduate student University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

William Blair (BS Biology)
Graduated: August 2014
Now: Works in industry (Sovereign Pharmaceuticals, Fort Worth, TX)


Gregory Phelps (BS Biology/Chemistry)
Graduated: May 2015
Honor’s Thesis: “DNA barcoding to identify Arkansas plants with potential anti-leukemia activity”
Now: Pharmacy/Ph.D. Student, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN

Earl Morris (BS Biology)
Graduated: May 2015
Honor’s Thesis: “High throughput phenotyping of high vitamin C tobacco lines”
Now: Pharmacy Student, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR

Catherine Mull
Undergraduate Student Researcher (Jan. - Dec. 2015)
Alex Rowlan
Undergraduate Student Researcher (Feb. - Dec. 2015)
Kara Oliver
Undergraduate Student Researcher (Aug. - Dec. 2015)
Shannon Cunningham
Undergraduate Student Researcher (Aug. - Dec. 2015)


Key Collaborators

Dr. Maureen Dolan, Associate Professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Fiona L. Goggin, Professor | University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Dr. Carole L. Cramer, Professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Harkamal Walia, Assistant professor l University of Nebraska Lincoln
Dr. Karen Browning, Associate professor l University of Texas Austin
Dr. Gregory Phillips, Professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Anna M. McClung, Director | USDA-ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center 
Dr. Vibha Srivastava, Professor | University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Dr. Rogelio Pereda-Miranda, Professor | Facultad de Quimica-UNAM, Mexico
Dr. Marisa Luisa Villarreal-Ortega, Professor | CEIB/UAEM, Mexico
Dr. Travis Marsico, Associate Professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Fatima Rivas, Assistant Member, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 

Research Projects

1) Study of the role of ascorbate in the control of aging and reproductive activity in plants

2) Metabolic engineering of vitamin C in plants

3) Intersection of ascorbate regulation, jasmonate-signaling, and defense against herbivores in plants (in collaboration with Dr. Fiona Goggin, UA-Fayetteville)

4) Study of the role of ascorbate in mitigating ER and cellular stress associated with plant-based protein production (in collaboration with Dr. Maureen Dolan, ASU)

5) Vitamin C metabolism in rice (collaboration with Dr. Gregory Phillips, ASU, Dr. Anna McClung, USDA-Stuttgart, AR and Dr. Vibha Srivastava, UA-Fayetteville)

6) Vitamin C metabolism in morning glories (collaboration with Dr. Rogelio Pereda-Miranda, Facultad de Química-UNAM, Mexico)

7) Molecular speciation of selected Mexican medicinal plants (collaboration with Dr. Maria Luisa Villarreal CEIB-UAEM, Cuernavaca, Mexico and Dr. Rachel Mata, Facultad de Química-UNAM, Mexico)

8) Salt tolerance in rice (collaboration with Dr. Harkamal Walia, University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

9) DNA barcoding of Arkansas native plants (collaboration with Drs. Travis Marsico – ASU and Fatima Rivas – St Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

10) Plant high throughput phenotyping, Co-Lead Plant Imaging Consortium


Argelia Lorence presented an opening plenary talk entitled, “Engineering elevated vitamin C in plants to improve their nutritional content, growth, and tolerance to stress”, at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Phytochemical Society of North America, August 11-15, 2012, London Ontario, Western University.
PDF of all abstracts and short bios of plenary speakers