Molecules from Nature

Products made by plants and bacteria are essential for humankind, and integral to our daily lives. Molecules from Nature investigates the vast diversity of chemicals (natural products) made by plants and microbes.

Plant and microbial products already provide our food and nutrients essential for our well-being, major drugs, therapeutics and antibiotics, and sustainable raw materials for the manufacture of a host of products including agrichemicals, personal care products, paints, plastics, lubricants, and textiles.

In addition to these essential and well-known products, research on plant and microbial genomes shows that these organisms are able to make a vast range of as-yet undiscovered products. By opening up this untapped resource, our research can underpin development of new products and processes of economic and societal benefit, such as new therapeutics and antibiotics, sustainable ways to improve crop yields, and foods with health benefits.

To make best use of the opportunities offered by genomic exploration of plants and microbes, we are investigating the evolutionary origins and biological functions of the vast product diversity present in plants and microbes and revealing how potentially important classes of products are synthesised by these organisms.

The information from this research is being used to design and engineer new molecules and producing organisms that can accelerate advances in health, medicine, sustainable manufacturing, and sustainable agricultural practices. It also underpins new understanding in areas of biology including chemical interactions between soil organisms and plants that are important for plant productivity, and the interaction between the composition of our diets and our health and well-being.