We are pleased to announce that our 6th Annual Flavors of Chemistry will be occurring virtually on Thursday, October 8th, via Zoom. The talk will be from 3–4 PM, with a BYOC (bring your own coffee) networking social starting at 2:30 PM. The event will feature Prof. Philipp Zerbe talking about plant-derived terpenoids.
Investigating Plant Terpene Metabolism for Agricultural and Bioproduct Applications
Terpenoids form the largest and most diverse metabolite class in plants with essential functions in plant development and ecological interactions. Their chemical diversity also offers a rich source for bioproducts, including flavors, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and more. However, a broader industrial application of plant-derived terpenoids remains limited by the typically low abundance of these compounds in often only a single plant family or species. We integrate functional genomics, metabolomics, and various protein biochemical approaches to discover terpenoid-biosynthetic genes and pathways in a range of medicinal, food, and bioenergy plants. This work has shown that many plants employ modular ‘LEGO-like’ pathway networks, where distinct enzyme modules can function in different combinations along a common blueprint to form a vast diversity of terpenoid products. Following nature’s lead, we leverage this knowledge and gene resources to enable the development of combinatorial pathway engineering platforms for terpenoid bioproducts and strategies for improving terpenoid-mediated traits in food and bioenergy crops.
Philipp Zerbe is an Associate Professor at the Department of Plant Biology, University of California at Davis. His research focuses on the discovery and engineering of specialized terpenoid metabolism in food, bioenergy, and medicinal plants for developing tools for the production of terpenoids with human benefit. For his research, Dr. Zerbe recently received the 2015 Arthur Neish Young Investigator Award, a 2016/17 Hellman Fellowship, and 2018 Elsevier Young Investigator Award. Prior to his position at UC Davis, Dr. Zerbe received his PhD from the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany (2007) with emphasis on structure-function studies plant hormone metabolism, followed by positions as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) where he focused his research on the discovery of terpenoid metabolism with relevance for bioproducts and stress tolerance in food crops and forest trees.