Laboratory for bioanalytical chemistry

NematodesNematode tracks on a film of E. coli

The laboratory of bioanalytical chemistry develops novel analytical techniques to decipher the ecology and evolution of small molecule signaling and secondary metabolism in nematodes (roundworms).


"In short, if all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes. The location of towns would be decipherable, since for every massing of human beings there would be a corresponding massing of certain nematodes. Trees would still stand in ghostly rows representing our streets and highways. The location of the various plants and animals would still be decipherable, and, had we sufficient knowledge, in many cases even their species could be determined by an examination of their erstwhile nematode parasites." (Nathan Augustus Cobb, 1915).


Latest Lab News

Our manuscript on the biogenesis of polymethylated sodorifen in the rhizobacterium Serratia plymuthica has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). We utilized a combination of comparative GC-MS and NMR analysis of wild-type and mutant strains along with in vitro assays with heterologously expressed enzymes to demonstrate that sodorifen biogenesis involves methylation and cyclization of the canonical farnesyl pyrophosphate by a C-methyltransferase (MT) to provide monocyclic pre-sodorifen pyrophosphate as a substrate for the terpene cyclase (TC). Furthermore, we employ in vivo feeding experiments with 13C labelled precursors along with NMR spectroscopy to elucidate the biogenetic pathway from farnesyl pyrophosphate via pre-sodorifen pyrophosphate to sodorifen. The research was performed in collaboration with Prof. Birgit Piechulla and her team at the University of Rostock, Germany.