Biosynthesis of natural products

Evolution by natural selection has produced a fasinating repotoire of natural products with diverse structures and functions, many possessing significant commercial value. I am interested in the biosynthesis of natural products to understand the logic of how biosynthetic pathways are constructed, as well as to elucidate the biosynthetic enzymes of molecules that are valuable to society. I am particularly interested in applying ‘omics’, analytical chemistry, and computational analyses to the elucidation of molecules and pathways from wild and non-model species that have interesting biochemistry, but limited capability for laboratory manipulation & the obtaining of large quantities of tissue.

Eukaryotic specialized metabolism

The study of natural products and metabolism becomes particularly difficult when considering the multicellular eukaryotes. Unlike bacteria and fungi, which oftentimes cluster the genes in a metabolic pathway within their genome, such cases are rare in multicellular eukaryotes. I am interested in bioinformatic and experimental approaches to elucidate these difficult pathways.

Evolution of complex traits

The complexity of eukaryotic metabolic pathways can be substantial, involving complexity from the level of small molecules to the macroscopic tissues dedicated to production of small molecules, leading to the questions of how such phenomena evolved. I am interested in the evolutionary mechanisms, theory, and framework for the evolution of metabolic systems, including genes, enzymes, and specialized cells and tissues.