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Xiaolei Liu

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Xiaolei Liu

Brett Carpenter

Norman R. Gelphman Professor 
Associate Professor of Geosciences

Ph.D., 2011, Organic Geochemistry, MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany
M.Sc., 2007, Palaeontology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
B.S., 2003, Ecology and Environmental Microbiology, Shandong University, China

Office: SEC 948

Faculty Page

Areas of Interest

Geobiology, Lipid Biomarkers, Origins of Life


Understanding the diversity of microbial activities in the environment is a fundamental target of geobiological research. Lipid biomarkers can serve as robust molecular tracers to study the composition of microorganisms and their metabolisms. To make lipid biomarkers the powerful tool of geobiological study, my research will focus on 1) developing efficient analytical protocols to detect, identify and quantify lipid biomarkers in various samples; 2) understanding the biological sources, transportation and preservation of lipids in sediment records; 3) demonstrating the biosynthetic pathways and biological function of lipids. 

Courses Taught

Molecular Biogeochemistry (2017 Fall)
Introduction to Petroleum and Environmental Geochemistry (2018 Spring)

Selected Publications

Liu X.-L., Lipp J.S., Elling F., Birgel D., Summons R.E., Hinrichs K.-U., 2018. Predominance of the parallel glycerol arrangement in archaeal tetraethers from marine subsurface sediments: structural features revealed by degradation products. Organic Geochemistry 115, 12-23.

Liu X.-L., Birgel D., Elling F., Sutton P.A., Lipp J.S., Zhu R., Zhang C., Könneke M., Peckmann J., Rowland S.J., Summons R.E., Hinrichs K.-U., 2016. From ether to acid: a plausible degradation pathway of glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 183, 138-152.

Liu X.-L., Santiago Torio A.D., Bosak T., Summons R.E., 2016. Novel archaeal tetraether lipids with a cyclohexyl ring identified in Feyetteville Green Lake, NY and other sulfidic lacustrine settings. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 30, 1197–1205.

Liu X.-L., Zhu C., Wakeham S.G., Hinrichs K.-U., 2014. In situ production of branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers in anoxic marine water columns. Marine Chemistry 166, 1-8.

Liu, X.-L., Summons, R.E., Hinrichs, K.-U., 2012. Extending the known range of glycerol ether lipids in the environment: structural assignments based on MS/MS fragmentation patterns. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 26, 2295–2302.

Liu, X.-L., Lipp, J.S., Simpson, J.H., Lin, Y.-S. Summons, R.E., Hinrichs, K.-U., 2012. Mono- and dihydroxyl Glycerol Dibiphytanyl Glycerol Tetraethers in marine sediments: identification of both core and intact polar lipid forms. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 89, 102-115.

Liu, X.-L., Lipp, J. S., Schröder, J. M., Summons, R. E., Hinrichs, K. -U., 2011. Isoprenoidal glycerol dialkanol diethers: a series of novel archaeal lipids in marine sediments. Organic Geochemistry 43, 50-55.

Liu, X.-L., Lipp, J.S., Hinrichs, K.-U., 2011. Distribution of intact and core GDGTs in marine sediments. Organic Geochemistry 42, 368-375.

Liu, X.-L., Leider, A. Gillespie, A., Gröger, J., Versteegh, G.J.M., Hinrichs, K-U., 2010. Identification of polar lipid precursors of the ubiquitous branched GDGT orphan lipids in a peat bog in Northern Germany. Organic Geochemistry 41, 653–660.