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 Full Stream Name: Bioprospecting 2.0 

Principal Investigator: Andy Ellington & Jennifer Brodbelt

Research Educator: Kasia Dinkeloo


BioProspecting Research Overview: Plants, Plastics, and Beyond

Bioprospecting is the search for products/compounds derived from plants, animals, and microorganisms that exhibit useful properties (think: plant-based pharmaceuticals, agriculturally important compounds from fungi, natural products such as latex). Many of these products or compounds are mediated by the organism’s stress response. An organism’s ability to respond to stress enormously influences its survival, and there are many incredible and unique survival mechanisms present in nature! There are several approaches to bioprospecting revolving around collection of samples, sample processing/analysis via extraction of compounds or genetic information, and analysis of products for bioactivity or other applications. At this time, our stream has two main areas of focus: Plants and Plastics.

When working with plants, our bioprospectors are extracting RNA, lipids, proteins, and metabolites to unravel the molecular signatures of a plant’s response to stress. Our plastics researchers are working to isolate microbes from various environmental sources and testing these creatures for the ability to degrade plastic. A new area of research for our stream is the combination of these two topics for the study of plastics in the rhizosphere.

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Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Pre-Med