McGill University | Macdonald Campus
The Dastmalchi lab studies the rich tapestry of plant specialized metabolism – molecules that the plant produces to communicate and protect itself from the environment. We take on a variety of plant species, including members of the Fabaceae (legume) and Apocynaceae families. Our interest lies in gene discovery, enzyme function, and regulation of biosynthetic pathways. Simply -- how does the plant produce such biochemical diversity?
Plant species are canvassed for potential high-value compounds, and then the search begins! A host of ’omics data (genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) is used to triage gene candidates. Gene targets involved in biosynthesis, regulation, and transport are functionally characterized in the plant or in vitro.
Enzymatic catalysts in nature are capable of exquisite chemical reactions. The lab is studying the biochemistry of these reactions, and the naturally occurring diversity of the catalysts. We try to tease out the sequences that confer these unique capabilities. "Parts" discovered in plants can be reconstituted in heterologous systems / hosts e.g., yeast to build novel fermentation platforms. Engineering of synthetic organisms can be as much of learning tool as a solution to producing desired compounds.