University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Megan Smith

Thesis Advisor:

Year entered: 2017

Degrees received:
B.S., University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 2016


β-Lactones are a class of microbial natural products that show antibiotic, anti-tumor and anti-obesity effects. Some bacteria make β-lactones as the final product and others use it as an intermediate to make membrane lipids. The Wackett lab has elucidated the enzymatic pathway that produces β-lactones from starting acyl CoAs and has found a large number of putative β-lactone gene clusters in microorganisms. I hope to help screen, express, and characterize the genes and enzymes from these pathways. I will explore commonalities and differences between these pathways to help understand the biological role β-lactones may play, as well as aiding in the biosynthesis of novel β-lactone pharmaceuticals and natural products.