The central goal of research in the Balskus Lab is to use chemical knowledge to discover, understand, and manipulate microbial metabolism. We are developing chemically guided approaches for discovering new metabolic pathways and enzymes in microbial genome sequencing data and for elucidating biochemical functions of genes linked to important biological activities. We are also exploring strategies for utilizing microbes in chemical synthesis.
The Balskus Lab discovers and investigates biosynthetic pathways that give rise to natural products with unusual molecular architectures. This carboy contains a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that synthesizes the cylindrocyclophanes, a family of cytotoxic metabolites that possess a unique macrocyclic scaffold.
The Balskus Lab studies biochemical transformations carried out by symbiotic microorganisms that impact human health and disease. These anaerobic culture tubes mimic the oxygen-free growth conditions found in the gastrointestinal tract, enabling investigations of anaerobic microbial metabolism.