Mary Beth Mudgett (Biology)
Elizabeth Sattely (Chemical Engineering)

Plants produce diverse classes of metabolites in response to environmental conditions and biotic stresses. These molecules are critical to plant fitness and also have important applications in human therapeutics and other commodity products. Despite our reliance on plant natural products, very little is known regarding when and how they are made, limiting our ability to use these compounds in commercial products. In collaboration with L’Oréal, the Sattely and Mudgett labs are using a gene-centric discovery approach to find novel natural products and their biosynthetic pathways in Solanum lycopersicum (tomato), one of the most economically and agriculturally important crops. In order to target compounds that have antifungal and/or antibacterial activity, the collaborators are monitoring both transcriptional and metabolic changes that are specific to a panel of bacterial and fungal elicitors.

This project has resulted in a publication in Cell, "A Pathogen-Responsive Gene Cluster for Highly Modified Fatty Acids in Tomato".