Biosciences Department Seminar
"Phytochemical factories in planta: Biofuels, petrochemical substitutes and medicinals"
Presented by Norman G. Lewis, Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 2 pm
John Dunn Seminar Room, Bldg. 463
Hosted by: John Shanklin
Game-changing strategies are urgently needed to meet growing expectations for sustainable production of biofuels, polymer building blocks, specialty chemicals and medicinals from renewable resources. Progress towards developing fast growing, transgenic, hybrid poplar as designer woody biomass is described, with new biochemical pathways introduced to give platforms enabling production of key specialty/commodity/biofuel chemicals, e.g. phenylethanol. Effects on overall metabolism are discussed, from photosynthesis to end-product carbon sinks. In addition, many biochemical pathways to our most valued medicinals are poorly understood, e.g. to the anti-cancer agent podophyllotoxin. Progress in Illumina sequencing and various gene assembly construction strategies to generate transcriptome data using different podophyllum tissues is discussed, in order to identify and test potential candidates for unknown steps in the podophyllotoxin biosynthetic pathway. In all cases, MALDI tissue metabolite imaging enabled identification of the specialized cell types (phytochemical factories) involved.