Plants collectively produce a myriad of specialized metabolites. These compounds provide humans with medicines, food additives and natural insecticides. In this lab we ask “where do these metabolites come from?” and “why do plants make so many different types of specialized metabolites?”
To critically answer these questions, we use plant synthetic biology coupled with biochemical, metabolomics and computational approaches to investigate the evolutionary trajectories of plant chemical diversity.
Along the journey, we seek to identify important chemical modifications and products, reveal molecular mechanisms underlying biodiversity of specialized metabolites, and discover evolution-guided solutions for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology to create products useful to humans.