Chemical Discovery in the Microbial World

We are inspired by the diversity of chemical transformations used by microorganisms in both primary and secondary metabolism. Microbes are Nature’s synthetic chemists, continually evolving elegant chemical solutions for problems inherent to their growth and survival in diverse environments. Our work will encompass the elucidation and study of biosynthetic pathways and enzymes as well as the development of synthetic methods that are compatible with microbial chemistry.

Understanding microbial chemistry is important. In addition to playing significant roles in the ecology and survival of producing organisms, small molecules made and manipulated by bacteria and fungi have medicinal and industrial applications.

Opportunities for chemical discovery abound at all stages of biosynthesis. We will take advantage of recent advances in DNA sequencing and bioinformatics, an increasing understanding of the biosynthetic logic underlying secondary metabolic pathways, and modern synthetic chemistry to guide our approach. 

Latest News

Keystone Conference in Big Sky, MT

April 11, 2014

Several members of the Balskus Lab recently attended the "Exploiting and Understanding Chemical Biotransformations in the Human Microbiome" Keystone Conference in Big Sky, Montana. During the five day conference, we learned about recent developments in studies of the human microbiota and about the wide-range of interdisplinary approaches being used to learn more about the microbial communities that live within and on us. Emily gave a great talk about choline metabolism in the gut and Ana, Sam, and Carolyn presented posters.