Groups of bacteria are responsible for many important processes on earth, from human health to carbon cycling. While a great deal of progress has been made identifying the bacterial species that are involved in these activities, in most cases how these bacteria actually interact remains a mystery. We are interested in determining the molecular details of how these bacteria interact with each other and their environment.
Natural product discovery and biosynthesis
Natural products form the basis of many compounds essential to medicine and agriculture. Therefore, there is a constant demand for new sources of these molecules. The number of sequenced bacterial genomes has exploded in recent years, revealing a large untapped source of novel biosynthetic potential in species not traditionally relied upon for natural product discovery. We are interested in discovering new natural products with therapeutic potential from underexplored bacterial species. We are also interested in determing how these compounds are biosynthesized, in order to discover new chemistry that can be used to make novel compounds from renewable feedstocks in the future.
Regulation of biosynthetic gene clusters
Bacteria often regulate the production of the natural products they make because they are energetically expensive. We are interested in determining how these clusters are regulated, including how to turn on ones that are off in the laboratory (cryptic clusters) in order to increase the chance of discovering new compounds.