Metabolic and biochemical characterization of terpenoid profiles in the high-value plants hop (Humulus lupulus), tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), and cannabis (Cannabis sativa)

Despite advances in biotechnology and organic synthesis, plants remain the main source of many of high-value bioactive compounds used in the medical, fragrance and food industries. Increasing demand for bioactive plants (e.g., cannabis and extracts thereof) require robust authentication approaches to verify feedstock, identify product adulteration and ensure product safety for consumers. This research aims to develop such robust testing methods for a wide range of high-value plant materials and related products including tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil and hops (Humulus lupulus), as well as cannabis (Cannabis sativa) and edible cannabis products. Our work will focus on terpenoids with conventional and enantiomeric profiling approaches, as enantiomeric terpenoids may exert distinct biological effects separate from and/or in combination with other compounds. We will use state-of-the-art gas chromatography-mass spectrometry coupled with various sampling methods (e.g., high-temperature headspace and vacuum-assisted sample extraction) for phytochemical profiling of commercial hops, tea tree essential oils, and cannabis varieties with a focus on mono- and sesqui-terpenes. High-throughput comparative genomics/transcriptomics, biochemical characterization and synthetic biology will follow to elucidate the biochemical pathways behind any distinct terpene enantiomer profiles, and potentially produce these valuable stereoisomers on scales appropriate for further research and development.

Faculty Supervisor:

Thu Thuy T Dang;Gino DiLabio


T. Don Nguyen


Supra Research and Development







Current openings

Find the perfect opportunity to put your academic skills and knowledge into practice!

Find Projects