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Grey Limbo

Oklahoma State University


Li-Maria Ma

Li Maria Ma

Dr. Ma's research focuses on food safety and biosecurity with research areas include detection and DNA fingerprinting of foodborne bacterial pathogens using metagenomics and next-generation sequencing, ecology of foodborne pathogens in food production, novel technologies for pathogen decontamination, and decision-making tools for assessing the likelihood of an intentional foodborne illness outbreak and early detection of outbreaks.


Dr. Ma has direct firsthand working experience with a variety of human foodborne pathogens and has published over fifty peer-reviewed scientific articles, six book chapters, and holds four U. S. patents. Dr. Ma is the past president of the Chinese Association for Food Protection in North America, founder and the past president of Oklahoma Association for Food Protection, past Chair of the Affiliate Council and served on the executive board of IAFP.

Education / Professional Prep / Appointments

Ph.D. Food Microbiology

B.S. Food Engineering  Education/Professional 

Specialty Skills and Knowledge

Current Research

Rapid detection


DNA fingerprinting


Molecular characterization of foodborne pathogens;


Soil microbiomes in association with foodborne pathogens;


Food decontamination technology-atmospheric cold plasma

Food microbiology

Food Safety &amp



Bacterial genetics and molecular techniques

 Microbial Forensics

Lab Website; 

Key Publications

L. Ma, N. Lopez, and G. Zhang. 2023. Draft whole genome sequences of Bacillus strains

of potential probiotic for poultry. Microbiology Resource Announcements.


Diaz, C., M. Smith, C. Rohla, G. Zhang, S. Molina, and L. Ma. 2021. Prevalence of Shiga

toxin-producing Escherichia coli and Salmonella in native pecan orchards as influenced

by waiting periods between grazing and harvest. J. Food Prot. 85(1): 36-43.


Hu, L., G. Cao, E. W. Brown, M. W. Allard, L. Ma, and G. Zhang. 2021. Whole genome

sequencing and protein structure analyses of target genes for the detection of Salmonella.

Scientific Reports 11, 20887.


K. Pai, C. Timmons, K. Roehm, A. Ngo, S. S. Narayanan, A. Ramachandran, J. Jacob, L.

Ma, and S. Madihally. 2018. Investigation of the roles of plasma species generated by

surface dielectric barrier discharge. Scientific Reports. 8:16674. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-



Timmons, C. K. Pai, J. Jacob, G. Zhang, and L. Ma. 2017. Inactivation of Salmonella

enterica, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes by a novel

surface discharge cold plasma design. Food Control, 84:455-462. DOI:


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