Research Interests

The terpenoids represent the largest family of natural products and they play many important roles in plants. The lower terpenoids (C10-C20) are principal constituents of the oils and resins that serve in defense against herbivores and pathogens, as attractants for pollinators and seed-dispersing animals, and as competitive phytotoxins. Numerous lower terpenoids are also important as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, flavors and fragrances, and renewable chemical feedstocks. Our research interests are broad and include the elucidation of metabolic pathways and definition of the corresponding enzymes and genes, the structures and mechanisms of the enzymes of terpenoid biosynthesis and catabolism, the cellular and molecular regulation of metabolism directed toward production of terpenoids of commercial significance and as petrochemical replacements, the origin of terpenoid phytotoxins and phytoalexins and their molecular genetic exploitation in plant defense against herbivores and pathogens, the improvement of constitutive and induced conifer resistance to bark beetle infestation, and the engineering of plants and microorganisms for the industrial-scale production of terpenoid pharmaceuticals such as taxol, agrochemicals, fragrance materials and synthetic intermediates.

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Primary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry