Plants make thousands of natural products that are of potential use in medicine or agriculture.
Currently it is difficult to work with these natural products as they are often produced in low amounts in nature or in complex mixtures that are hard to extract and separate.
Working out how a plant makes these compounds, i.e. finding the genes responsible, will allow us to produce these compounds in easy-to-use plant or microbial systems.
Anastasia’s work specifically focuses on glycosyltransferases, enzymes that decorate and elaborate natural products with a range of different sugar molecules that are important for their bioactivity.
She uses genomics and transcriptomics to identify gene candidates, and tests them for glycosyltransferase activity using the transient expression system in the plant Nicotiana benthamiana.