Leif Abrell
Associate Research Scientist, Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants
Manager of Organic Analyses, Soil, Water & Environmental Science
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
(520) 488-7475
PhD, Organic Chemistry

Leif (PhD, Organic Chemistry, 1997) has measured and detected biogenic organic compounds, like semiochemicals and secondary metabolites, in trace amounts from animals and plants using mass spectrometry and other organic spectroscopies for twenty years. He has studied how these chemicals interact in ecosystems like the North American Sonoran Desert, Biosphere 2, the Amazonian tropical forest, and in plant-insect relationships. He has also investigated chemical interactions amongst marine microorganism assemblies, mammalian ligand receptors, and in the interstellar media. Most recently he is developing methods for analysis of trace, organic contaminants in complex environmental matrices like breastmilk and treated wastewater.

Selected Citations: 

(Bio)transformation of 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN) in soils. Olivares, C. I., Abrell, L., Khatiwada, R., Chorover, J., Sierra-Alvarez, R., Field, J.A., Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2016, 304, 214-221.

Continuous treatment of the insensitive munitions compound N-methyl-p-nitro aniline (MNA) in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) bioreactor. Olivares, C. I., Wang, J., Silva Luna, C.D., Field, J.A., Abrell, L., Sierra-Alvarez, R., Chemosphere, 2016, 144, 1116-1122.

Microbial toxicity and characterization of DNAN (bio)transformation product mixtures. Olivares, C., Sierra‐Alvarez, R., \Alvarez-Nieto, C., Abrell, L., Chorover, J., Field. J., Chemosphere, 2016, 154, 499-506.

Zebrafish embryo toxicity of anaerobic biotransformation products from the insensitive munitions compound 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN). Olivares, C., Sierra‐Alvarez, R., Abrell, L., Chorover, J., Simonich, M., Tanguay, R., Field, J., Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2016, accepted.

Adsorption of novel insensitive munitions compounds at clay mineral and metal oxide surfaces. Linker, B.R., Kathiwada, R., Perdrial, N., Abrell, L., Field, J., Chorover, J., Environmental Chemistry, 2015, 12, 74-84.

Biotransformation and degradation of the insensitive munition compound, 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO), by soil bacterial communities. Krzmarzick, M.J., Khatiwada, R., Olivares, C.I., Abrell, L., Sierra-Alvarez, S., Chorover, J., Field, J., Environmental Science & Technology, 2015, 49, 5681-5688.

Dimethyl sulfide in the Amazon rain forest. Jardine, K., Yañez-Serrano, A.M., Williams, J., Kunert, N., Jardine, A., Taylor, T., Abrell, L., Artaxo, P., Guenther, A., Hewitt, C.N., House, E., Florentino, A.P., Manzi, A., Higuchi, N., Kesselmeier, J., Behrendt, T., Veres, P.R., and others, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2015, 29, 19-32.

Flower discrimination by pollinators in a dynamic chemical environment. Riffell, J.A., Shlizerman, E., Sanders, E., Abrell, L., Medina, B., Hinterwirth, A.J., Kutz, J.N., Science, 2014, 344, (6191), 1515.

Assessment of swimmer behaviors on pool water ingestion. Suppes, L.M., Abrell, L., Dufour, A.P., Reynolds, K.A., Journal of Water and Health, 2014, 2, 269-279.

Dynamic balancing of isoprene carbon sources reflects photosynthetic and photorespiratory responses to temperature stress. Jardine, K., Chambers, J., Alves, E.G., Teixeira, A., Garcia, S., Holm, J., Higuchi, N., Manzi, A., Abrell, L., Fuentes, J.D., Nielsen, L.K., Torn, M., Vickers, C.E., Plant Physiology, 2014, 166, 2051-2064.

Synthesis of 13C and 15N labeled 2,4-dinitroanisole. Bhumasamudram, J., Field, J., Chorover, J., Sierra-Alvarez, R., Abrell, L., Mash, E., Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals, 2014, 57, 434-436.

Complexation of trace organic contaminants with fractionated dissolved organic matter: Implications for mass spectrometric quantification. Hernandez-Ruiz, S., Wickramasekara, S., Abrell, L., Gao, X., Chefetz, B., Chorover, J., Chemosphere, 2013, 91, 344-350.

Emissions of putative isoprene oxidation products from mango branches under abiotic stress. Jardine, K.J., Meyers, K., Abrell, L., Alves, E.G., Yanez Serrano, A.M., Kesselmeier, J., Karl, T., Guenther, A., Vickers, C., Chambers, J.Q., J. Exp. Bot., 2013, 64, 3669-3679.

Neural basis of a pollinator’s buffet: olfactory specialization and learning in the Manduca sexta moth. Riffell, J.A., Lei, H., Abrell, L., Hildebrand, J.G., Science, 2013, 339, 200-204.

Pathways of reductive 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN) biotransformation in sludge. Olivares, C., Liang, J., Abrell, L., Sierra-Alvarez, R., Field, J., Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2013, 110, 1595-1604.

Phytogenic biosynthesis and emission of methyl acetate. Jardine, K., Wegener, F., Abrell, L., van Haren, J., Werner, C., Plant Cell Environ., 2013, 37, 414-424.

Concentration of trichloroethylene in breast milk and household water from Nogales, Arizona. Beamer, P.; Luik, C.E.; Abrell. L.; Campos, S.; Martínez, M.E.; Seáz, A.E., Env. Sci. Tech., 2012, 46, 9055-9061.

Green leaf volatiles and oxygenated metabolite emission bursts from mesquite branches following light-dark transitions. Jardine, K., Barron-Gafford, G.A., Norman, J.P., Abrell, L., Monson, R.K., Meyers, K.T., Pavao-Zuckerman, M., Dontsova, K., Kleist, E., Werner, C., Huxman, T.E., Photosynthesis Research, 2012, 113, 321-333.

Natural dissolved organic matter affects electrospray ionization during analysis of emerging contaminants by mass spectrometry. Wickramasekara, S., Hernández-Ruiz, S., Abrell, L., Arnold, R., Chorover, J., Analytica Chimica Acta, 2012, 717, 77-84.

Quantifying PPCP interaction with dissolved organic matter in aqueous solution: Combined use of fluorescence quenching and tandem mass spectrometry. Hernandez Ruiz, S., Abrell, L., Wickramasekara, S., Chefetz, B., Chorover, J., Water Research, 2012, 46, 943-954.

Within-plant isoprene oxidation confirmed by direct emissions of oxidation products methyl vinyl ketone and methacrolein. Jardine, K., Monson, R.K., Abrell, L., Saleska, S.R., Arneth, A., Jardine, A., Karl, T., Fares, S., Goldstein, A., Loreto, F., Huxman, Global Change Biology, 2012, 18, 973-984.

Ecosystem-scale compensation points of gas-phase formic and acetic acid in the central Amazon. Jardine, K., Yañez Serrano, A., Arneth, A., Abrell, L., Jardine, A., Artaxo, P., Gomes, E., Kesselmeier, J., Taylor, T., Saleska, S., Huxman, T, Biogeosciences, 2011, 8, 9283-9309.

Phosphorylation of enkephalins: NMR and CD studies in aqueous and membrane-mimicking environments. Muthu, D., Yeomans, L., Lowery, J.J., Martinez, H.N., Abrell, L., Lin, G.,. Strom, K., Knapp, B.I., Bidlack, J.M., Bilsky, E.J., Polt, R., Chemical Biology & Drug Design, 2011, 78, 749-756.

Within-canopy sesquiterpene ozonolysis in Amazonia. Jardine, K., Yanez-Serrano, A.M., Arneth, A., Abrell, L., Jardine, A., van Haren, J., Artaxo, P, Rizzo, L., Ishida, F.Y., Karl, T., Kesselmeier, J., Saleska, S.R., Huxman, Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 2011, 116, D19301.

Dynamic solution injection: A new method for preparing pptv-ppbv standard atmospheres of volatile organic compounds. Jardine, K.J., Henderson, W.M., Huxman, T.E., Abrell, L., Atmos. Meas. Tech., 2010, 3, 1569-1576.

Gas phase measurements of pyruvic acid and its volatile metabolites. Jardine, K.J., Sommer, E.D., Saleska, S.R., Huxman, T.E., Harley, P.C., Abrell, L., Env. Sci. Tech., 2010, 44, 2454-2460.

Synthesis and structure of m-Terphenyl Thio-, Seleno- and Telluro-ethers. Zakai, U.I., Błoch-Mechkour, A., Jacobsen, N.E., Abrell, L., Lin, G., Nichol, G.S., Bally, T., Glass, R.S., J. Org. Chem., 2010, 75, 8363-8371.

Volatile organic compound emissions from Larrea tridentata (creosotebush). Jardine, K., Abrell, L., Kurc, S.A., Huxman, T., Ortega, J., Guenther, A., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2010, 10, 12191-12206.

Floral trait associations in hawkmoth-specialized and mixed pollination systems: Datura wrightii and Agave spp. in the Sonoran Desert. Riffell, J.A., Alarcón, R., Abrell, L., Communicative & Integrative Biol., 2008, 1, 6-8. 

Behavioral consequences of innate preferences and olfactory learning in hawkmoth-flower interactions. Riffell, J.A., Alarcón, R., Abrell, L., Davidowitz, G., Bronstein, J.L., Hildebrand, J.G., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2008, 105, 3404-3409.

Physical processes and real-time chemical measurement of the insect olfactory environment. Riffell, J.A., Abrell, L., Hildebrand, J.G., J. Chemical Ecology, 2008, 34, 837-853.

Structure and function of Dufour gland pheromones from the crazy ant Paratrechina longicornis. Witte, V., Abrell, L., Attygalle, A.B., Wu, X., Meinwald, J. Chemoecology, 2007, 17, 63-69.

Sugar synthesis from a gas phase formose reaction. Jalbout, A.F., Abrell, L., Adamowicz, L., Polt, R., Apponni, A.J., Ziurys, L., Astrobiology, 2007, 7, 433-442.

Drought effect on isoprene production and consumption in Biosphere 2 tropical rainforest. Pegoraro, E.P., Rey, A., Abrell, L., van Haren, J., Lin, G., Global Change Biology, 2006, 12, 456-469.

Formaldehyde in comets C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), C/2002 T7 (LINEAR), and C/2001 Q4 (NEAT): Investigating the cometary origin of H2CO. Milam, S.N., Remijan, A.J., Womack, M., Abrell, L., Ziurys, L.M., Wyckoff, S., Apponi, A.J., Friedel, D.N., Snyder, L.E., Veal, J.M., Palmer, P., Woodney, L.M., A'Hearn, M.F., Forster, J.R., Wright, M.C.H., de Pater, I., Choi, S., Gesmundo, M. , Astrophysical Journal, 2006, 649, 1169-1177.

Individual variation in alkaloid content of poison frogs of Madagascar (Mantella; Mantellidae). Clark, V.C., Rakotomalala, V., Ramilijaona, O., Abrell, L., Fisher, B.L., J. Chemical Ecology, 2006, 32, 2219-2233.

Effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 on oviposition behavior in Manduca sexta moths. Abrell, L., Guerenstein, P. G., Mechaber, W. L., Stange, G., Christensen, T., Nakanishi, K., Hildebrand, J. G., Global Change Biology, 2005, 11, 1272-1282.

Effects of elevated CO2 concentration and drought on plant production and soil consumption of isoprene in a temperate and a tropical rainforest mesocosm. Pegoraro, E. P., Abrell, L., van Haren, J., Barron-Gafford, G., Grieve, K., Malhi, Y., Murthy, R., Global Change Biology, 2005, 11, 1234-1246.

Volatile organic compounds as signals in a plant-herbivore system: electrophysiological responses in olfactory sensilla of the moth Cactoblastis cactorum. Pophof, B., Stange, G., Abrell, L., Chemical Senses, 2005, 30, 51-68.

Microphysiometric Measurement of PAF Receptor Responses to Ginkgolides. Krane, S., Kim, S.R., Abrell, L.M., Nakanishi, K., Helvetica Chimica Acta, 2003, 86, 3776-3786.

Conformational flexibility of ouabain and its biological implication: observations with ouabain 1,5,19- and 1,11,19-phosphates. Kawamura, A., Abrell, L. M., Maggiali, F., Berova, N., Nakanishi, K., Labutti, J., Magil, S., Haupert, G. T. Jr., Hamlyn, J. M., Biochemistry, 2001, 40, 5835-5844.

New hirsutane based sesquiterpenes from salt water cultures of a marine sponge-derived fungus and the terrestrial fungus Coriolus consors. Wang, G.-Y.-S., Abrell, L. M., Avelar, A., Borgeson, B. M., Crews, P., Tetrahedron, 1998, 54, 7335-7342.

A new polyketide, secocurvularin, from the salt water culture of a sponge derived fungus. Abrell, L. M., Borgeson, B., Crews, P., Tetrahedron Lett., 1996, 37, 8983-8984.

Chloro polyketides from the cultured fungus (Aspergillus) separated from a marine sponge. Abrell, L. M., Borgeson, B., Crews, P., Tetrahedron Lett., 1996, 37, 2331-2334.

Chloriolins A–C, chlorinated sesquiterpenes produced by fungal cultures separated from a Jaspis marine sponge. Cheng, X.-C., Varoglu, M., Abrell, L., Crews, P., Lobkovsky, E., Clardy, J., J. Org. Chem., 1994, 59, 6344-6348.

New nectriapyrones by salt water culture of a fungus separated from an indo-pacific sponge. Abrell, L., Cheng, X.-C., Crews, P., Tetrahedron Lett., 1994, 35, 9159-9160.

The structures and stereochemistry of cytotoxic sesquiterpene quinones from Dactylospongia elegans. Rodríguez, J., Quiñoá, E., Riguera, R., Peters, B. M., Abrell, L. M., Crews, P., Tetrahedron, 1992, 48, 6667-6680.

Research Themes: 
Arid lands
Atmospheric sciences
Climate change
Water quality
Animal behavior
Animal studies
Biogeochemical processes
Carbon cycling
Critical plant studies
Ecological behavior
Species Interactions
Public Health
Soil contaminants
Water contaminants
Urban Environment
Water resource management
Water reuse
Water treatment
Water-energy nexus
Watershed management

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