omics’-based platform and synthetic biology for the elucidation, characterization and production of plant natural products.

Alkaloids constitute a diverse class of natural products and due to their potent biological activity, many are commercially exploited. Most alkaloids are derived from amino acids and characterized by a nitrogen atom in a heterocyclic ring. Recently, the alkaloids produced by Amaryllidaceae plants (e.g. Narcissus (daffodils) and Galanthus (snowdrop)) have been attracting increasing interest due to their multiple biological activities. For example, Amaryllidaceae Alkaloids (AAs) such as lycorine and narcissidine act as pesticides, haemanthamine and narciclasine possess anti-cancer properties whereas galanthamin is used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer?s disease. The commercial development of AAs is restricted to limited availability due to low amount in planta (only galanthamine is produced commercially). Although there are obvious interests in engineering AA production, for crop improvement or development of pharmaceuticals, the lack of information on AA regulation and biosynthetic pathways make this task very challenging, no biosynthetic genes have been identified yet. An improved molecular understanding of AA biosynthesis will contribute to engineered plants with valuable AA profiles and pave the way for biotechnologies such as synthetic biology to improve production and availability. The overall aim of the proposed research is to increase knowledge on the metabolism and regulation of AAs in plants, with special reference to the establishment of ?omic? databases to facilitate discovery of novel genes involved in AA biosynthesis in Amaryllidaceae.

Faculty Supervisor:

Isabel Desgagn?-Penix





Biochemistry / Molecular biology





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