Metabolic Pathways & Engineering
Beyond serving as food, plants are the source of myriad important natural products, including nutrients and antioxidants, medicinal compounds, and industrial materials. Many of these compounds are impractical or impossible to obtain from non-plant sources. However, useful compounds may be available only in small quantities or from plants that are not normally cultivated. The goal of metabolic pathway engineering is to understand how plants make particular compounds: what enzymes are involved, how the pathways are regulated, where the products are made, and where they are stored. We can then use this knowledge to increase the levels of desired compounds, reduce or eliminate unwanted compounds, or transfer the pathways from exotic plants to plants more suitable for agricultural production. Metabolic engineers use biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and molecular biology approaches, along with advanced plant transformation technologies, to enable such research.
Labs conducting research in this area include: