Alaster works on the discovery of novel compounds from Pseudomonas bacteria, to aid in the fight against important plant diseases like potato late blight and potato common scab.
Pseudomonads are found in all soils around the world, and arguably live in close proximity to nearly every plant pathogen yet observed.
Antagonistic relationships between these soil microorganisms is well documented, and represents a potentially under appreciated source of novel metabolites that may replace broad spectrum and environmentally damaging chemicals presently used for crop protection.
Alaster uses a combination of classical selective isolation procedures and screening, as well as modern genome mining and molecular biology approaches. Techniques like liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy are also essential for the identification of novel compounds and elucidation of their structures.