College of Biological Sciences
This group is using MSI for two projects.
- Pharmaceuticals From Fungi and Plants: The researchers are investigating and engineering the biosynthesis of diverse isoprenoid- and phenylpropanoid derived natural products using enzymes isolated from plants and fungi, to produce chemicals with medicinal properties. A major research area in the group is the biosynthesis of isoprenoid compounds. Isoprenoids represent the largest class of natural products with over 20,000 compounds described. These compounds have a wide range of biological functions and are of industrial and pharmaceutical interest as pharmaceuticals, antioxidants, colorants, vitamins, and aroma compounds. This group is currently investigating the biosynthesis of one group of pharmaceutically important isoprenoids – the sesquiterpenes. These cyclic molecules represent a rich source for the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. Well-known examples of current sesquiterpene-derived drugs are the anticancer and antimalarial compounds taxol® and artemisinin, respectively. The researchers initially studied bacteria as new sources for these compounds, but realized that mushrooms represent an even greater and a completely untapped source for the discovery of bioactive sesquiterpenes.
- Engineering More Efficient Metabolic and Biocatalytic Functions and Systems: The biosynthesis of complex specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels in native organisms often proceed through multifaceted secondary pathways requiring long reaction times and generating poor product yields. Thus, these researchers are also interested in engineering more efficient metabolic functions in heterologous microbial hosts to generate designer microbes with optimized metabolisms for producing higher yields of desired product.