DynaMo Seminar: Fernando Geu-Flores – University of Copenhagen

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DynaMo Seminar: Fernando Geu-Flores

Dynamo Center of Excelence hosts our next seminar on 15 April 2013. Everybody is welcome.

Fernando Geu-Flores

John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, England

Gene discovery in the biosynthesis of medicinal alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus

The medicinal plant Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) is currently the only commercial source of the potent anticancer drug vincristine. The biosynthesis of vincristine is a complex biochemical process that includes multiple pathway branches and involves different cellular and subcellular compartments. The present talk will outline current strategies aimed at discovering genes coding for relevant enzymes and transporters from this non-model organism. Particular emphasis will be on the iridoid branch, an early pathway branch where co-expression analysis has recently led to the discovery of the key enzyme iridoid synthase1. Prospects of the de novo engineering of this intricate alkaloid pathway will also be presented.

Fernando Geu-Flores is a senior postdoc in Sarah O’Connor’s lab at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, England. Originally from Peru, Fernando did his PhD in Barbara Halkier’s group at the University of Copenhagen. Here he discovered a new enzyme in the core glucosinolate pathway2 and pioneered the de novo engineering of glucosinolates into tobacco3. In 2010 he then joined Sarah O’Connor’s group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he spent a year before relocating to JIC in 2011 together with the entire group .

1 Geu-Flores et al. (2012), Nature 492: 138.
2 Geu-Flores et al. (2011), Plant Cell 23: 2456.
3 Geu-Flores et al. (2009), Nat Chem Biol 5: 575.