Date & Location: April 3, 2023, at 4p
Location: PBL 247
Meeting ID: 959 9631 3892
Subject: Preserved plant specimens as tools for exploring the evolution of biosynthetic pathways to fatty acid-derived natural products
Host: Lucas Reist
About the Speaker
Institution: University of Minnesota Duluth
Abstract: Plants can synthesize lineage-specific natural products via offshoots from a wide array of their core metabolic pathways. Though phenylpropanoid, terpenoid, and alkaloid products have received much attention, numerous reports show that plants are also able to generate many structurally diverse compounds from fatty acids, including some with highly elaborate and unique structural features. Recent work continues to shed light on new fatty acid natural products and their biosynthetic pathways in diverse plant species. Inspired by this progress, we became curious about the evolution of biosynthetic pathways to fatty acid-derived products and set out to develop tools for exploring such. In this presentation, I will describe our work with surface lipids extracted from preserved plant specimens archived in herbaria. We first show that surface lipids from preserved specimens are comparable to those from freshly collected tissue at a semi-quantitative level for representative species from fern, gymnosperm, monocot, and dicot lineages. We then use preserved plant specimens to provide evidence for the relative evolutionary times of pathways to two fatty acid-derived natural products found in monocots – beta-diketones and alkyl resorcinols. I will compare those chemical data with patterns of beta-diketone synthase and alkyl resorcinol synthase genes in 26 monocot genomes. We believe that this approach outlines a general tool by which the evolution of pathways to a wide array of lipidic natural products, and probably other products too, can be explored.