Much of the ingenuity of life has revolved around the evolution of metabolic pathways, which has unlocked novel chemistries and expanded the molecular repertoire of nature. In particular, plants have been especially successful through the evolution of many unique and relevant metabolisms, ranging from synthesis of specialized compounds that can be used as pharmaceuticals (e.g., morphine, artemisinin) to broad processes that drive our planet’s elemental cycles (e.g., photosynthesis). As a result, life as we know it could not exist without plants. Given the scale and utility of agriculture, plants offer a unique platform to address many imminent challenges facing society. My research focuses on developing the foundational knowledge needed to innovate, deploy, and engineer new traits in plants using synthetic biology. Beyond biotechnological applications, these approaches can also be utilized to provide more sophisticated tools to improve our basic understanding of plant systems.
- Developing synthetic biology tools to enable more complex, targeted, and sophisticated engineering efforts in plants
- Stacking traits into bioenergy feedstocks for improved yield, biomass, and sustainability
- Designing and engineering plants for the production of target compounds directly from photosynthesis
- Leveraging synthetic biology approaches to study the evolution of primary and secondary metabolism
- Utilizing genomics to investigate the evolution of photosynthesis
See Google Scholar profile for complete list
- “Towards a sustainable bio-based economy: Redirecting primary metabolism to new products with plant synthetic biology”, Plant Science (in press)
- “Precise age of Bangiomorpha pubescens dates the origin of eukaryotic photosynthesis”, Geology (2017)
- “Evolution of the 3-hydroxypropionate bicycle and recent transfer of anoxygenic photosynthesis into the Chloroflexi”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017)
- “A robust gene stacking method utilizing yeast assembly for plant synthetic biology”, Nature Communications (2016)
- “Biotechnology and synthetic biology approaches for metabolic engineering of bioenergy crops”, The Plant Journal (2016)
- “Biochemical characterization of predicted Precambrian RuBisCO”, Nature Communications (2016)
Featured Intellectual Property
- Constructs and systems and methods for engineering a CO2 fixing photorespiratory by-pass in cyanobacteria.