About this event
Microbes are incredible biochemists, capable of producing a vast array of specialized molecules whose activities have been honed over evolutionary time. These microbial natural products, also called ‘secondary’ or ‘specialized’ metabolites, revolutionized the treatment of bacterial, fungal, and helminthic infections, and have seen wide use as anti-cancer drugs and immunosuppressants. Despite our medical dependence on these molecules, our knowledge of the ecology of these specialized metabolites, i.e. how they function in natural settings, is extremely limited. The goals of my research program are to understand the drivers and roles of specialized metabolism across biological scales, and to use this knowledge to inform discovery of novel natural products. In this talk, I will discuss our efforts ranging from understanding specialized metabolism by specific cells within colonies of single microbes to specialized metabolism occurring in diverse microbial environments on a continental scale.