We are currently advertising National Productivity Investment Fund Industrial CASE studentships with a deadline of the 16th July 2018.

02 / 10 / 2017

How plants make oxindole drugs (OCONNOR_J18DTP)

how to apply

Plants produce complex molecules called natural products. These biologically active molecules have important agricultural and pharmaceutical applications: for example, many natural products are used as antibiotics or anticancer agents. The overall goal of our group is to understand how plants make these molecules. Reconstitution of natural product pathways in appropriate host organisms, a “synthetic biology” approach, can allow rapid elucidation of these metabolic pathways and provide access to these compounds. This process of identifying these enzymes has been challenging for plant natural product pathways, but our group has been successful in using transcriptomic approaches to rapidly identify new plant biosynthetic enzymes.

In this project the student will identify candidate biosynthetic genes for a group of natural products called alkaloids in several species of medicinal plants. The student will use available transcriptomic data to perform these searches. The student will then perform a variety of biochemical experiments, such as expressing these genes in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana to determine the function of these enzymes. Later in the project, the student will perform more in-depth biochemical analysis to better understand how these enzymes work.

We are looking for a highly-motivated student with excellent background and practical scientific expertise in plant biochemistry/enzymology, plant molecular biology, natural product chemistry or a comparable field. The O’Connor group takes students from both chemistry and biology backgrounds. Previous laboratory experience is essential.

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