Plants have evolved an astounding diversity of chemical complexity to facilitate biotic interactions. These specialized compounds are involved in both beneficial interactions of plants with other organism and in the chemical-arms race between plants and their pests.
This continuous co-evolution has impacted genome organization and gene families through recruitment of genes as drivers for increased biochemical innovations to fine tune biotic interactions.
We utilize a multidisciplinary approach, combining classical biochemistry, metabolomics, molecular biology and molecular phylogenetic to decode how evolution works at the molecular and biochemical level.
Currently we are working on plant triterpenoids and co-evolution of cyanogenic glucosides in butterflies and moth and their host plants.
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- Evolution of triterpenoid saponin biosynthetic pathways.
- How triterpenoid saponin structural diversity impacts ecological function.
- Application of triterpenoid saponins as pharmaceuticals or biopesticides via metabolic engineering of plants, in vitro cell cultures, and yeast cells.
- Evolution of biosynthesis and sequestration of cyanogenic glucosides within butterflies and moths.
- Co-adaptation of cyanogenic glucosides in butterflies and moths and their food plants.
Current research projects
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences have various bachelor and master programs.