Molecular Biology and Genetics, Microbiology and Biotechnology
Current Research Projects
The production of antibiotics by Streptomyces clavuligerus. Particular emphasis is placed on the genetic regulation of the early steps in the cephamycin C biosynthetic pathway, and on the elucidation of the biosynthetic pathway leading to clavulanic acid and other clavam metabolites. Clavulanic acid biosynthesis is being studied by systematically cloning, sequencing and then knocking out genes encoding enzymes involved in each step of the pathway. In this way, biosynthetic intermediates can be identified.
A separate project involves the isolation and characterization of an antifungal agent active against the fungus which causes blackleg disease of canola. The antifungal agent is produced by a Bacillus sp. which was originally isolated from a blackleg infected canola plant.
A third area of research deals with a beta-lactamase inhibitor protein (BLIP), produced by Streptomyces clavuligerus. Collaborative studies together with x-ray crystallographer N. Strynadka, University of British Columbia, are aimed at understanding the mechanism of action of the RTEM beta-lactamase, and the nature of the interaction between BLIP and RTEM.