Argelia Lorence - Associate Professor in Metabolic Engineering

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

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.Cruz-Morales S, Castañeda-Gómez J, Figueroa-González G, Mendoza-García AD, Lorence A,  Pereda-Miranda R (2012). Mammalian multidrug resistance lipopentasaccharide inhibitors from Ipomoea alba seeds. Journal of Natural

2.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.

3.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.

4.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.

5.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.

6.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.

7.Lisko KA, Aboobucker SI, Torres R, Lorence A (2013) Engineering elevated vitamin C in plants to improve their nutritional content, growth, and tolerance to abiotic stress. Recent Advances in Phytochemistry. In press.

8.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.

9.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.

Editor of the book: “Recombinant Gene Expression, Reviews and Protocols, Third Edition” (2012) A Lorence (ed.) Molecular Biology Series, Humana/Springer, New York. ISBN # 978-1-61779-432-2, e-ISBN 978-1-61779-433-9, DOI 10.1007/978-1-61779-433-9.

Lab Members:


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

Current Lab Members  

Siddique Aboobucker
PhD student (Molecular Biosciences Program); 870-680-4323

Katherine A Lisko
PhD student (Molecular Biosciences Program); 870-680-4323

Jessica Yactayo-Chang
PhD Student (Molecular Biosciences Program); 870-680-4323

 Zachary Campbell

Zachary Campbell
Part Time Research Assistant
MS Student in Biotechnology
Plant high throughput phenotyping; 870-680-4323

 Sonia Elizabeth Castillo

Sonia Elizabeth Castillo
MSc Student in Environmental Sciences
Cold tolerance in rice; 870-680-4323

 Jazmin Martin

Jazmin Martin
Undergraduate student (Chemistry)
Characterization of MIOX/AVP crosses (collaboration Dr. Roberto Gaxiola, Arizona State University); 870-680-4323

 William Blair

William Blair
Undergraduate Student Researcher (senior, Biology Major)
Salt tolerance in rice (collaboration with Dr. Harkamal Walia, University of Nebraska Lincoln); 870-680-4323

 Kayla Parker

Kayla Parker
Undergraduate Student Researcher (senior, Chemistry Major)
Salt tolerance in rice (collaboration with Dr. Harkamal Walia, University of Nebraska Lincoln); 870-680-4323

 Earl Morris

Earl Morris
Undergraduate Student Researcher (Honor's student, junior, Chemistry Major)
Characterization of high vitamin C tobacco lines

 Earl Morris

Lily Jones
High school researcher
Characterization of MIOX/AVP crosses (collaboration Dr. Roberto Gaxiola, Arizona State University)



Past Students  

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

 Jonathan A. Radin

Jonathan A. Radin
Undergraduate Student (Chemistry); 870-680-4361

 Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres
Nursing Student at UAMS


Key Collaborators

Dr. Maureen Dolan, research assistant professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Fiona L. Goggin, professor | University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Dr. Kathleen Gilbert, professor | Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and UAMS
Dr. Carole L. Cramer, professor | Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
Dr. Anna Radominska-Pandya, professor | UAMS
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. Carmen M. Gurrola-Diaz, associate professor | Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico
Dr. Rogelio Pereda-Miranda, professor | Facultad de Quimica-UNAM, Mexico
Dr. Marisa Luisa Villarreal-Ortega, professor | CEIB/UAEM, Mexico
Dr. Rachel Mata, professor | Facultad de Quimica-UNAM, Mexico
Dr. Harkamal Walia, assistant professor l University of Nebraska Lincoln
Dr. Karen Browning, associate professor l University of Texas Austin

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) Study of the role of ascorbate at conferring plants tolerance to environmental pollutants (TCE phytoremediation project in collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Gilbert, ACHRI, Dr. Carole Cramer, ASU, and Dr. Anna Radominska-Pandya, UAMS)

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

7) Vitamin C metabolism in lupins (collaboration with Dr. Carmen Gurrola-Diaz, Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)

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

9) 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)

10) Plant high throughput phenotyping (phenomics)

11) Salt tolerance in rice


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