Abstract Detail

Phytochemistry: From atoms to organisms

Moghe, Gaurav [1], Raguso, Robert [2].

Phytochemistry: From atoms to organisms.

Chemistry plays a central role in all of life’s processes, affecting development, reproduction, response to abiotic stress, and communication with other organisms. The chemical diversity in the plant kingdom is immense -- over a million compounds have been proposed to exist across all plants, with some angiosperm species producing tens of thousands of compounds. Many questions about this chemical diversity are still unknown. Phytochemistry -- the study of various facets of this diversity in the context of plant biology -- is thus a broad and highly integrative field requiring inputs from ecology, plant taxonomy, developmental biology, physiology, genetics and computational biology. Through this symposium, we plan to highlight areas of phytochemistry that demonstrate this integration in greater detail. Specifically, the field of biochemical genomics is increasingly using phylogeny and genome-guided investigations of metabolism to obtain novel insights into the evolution of plant metabolic pathways. For example, studies in early-emerging land plant lineages and in lineage-specific pathways in angiosperms are helping us reconstruct metabolic ancestral states and understand the enzymatic origins of phytochemical diversity. Emergence of novel metabolite classes or shifts in their spatiotemporal regulation can significantly influence how plants interact with their environments. The field of chemical ecology integrates these different dimensions. Elegant studies are helping define the importance of single metabolites and metabolite bouquets in regulating defense against herbivores, associations with microbes, and interactions with pollinators and other plants. The diversity of metabolites in the plant world has also provided important resources for humankind for millenia. From folk medical treatises identifying toxic plants written 3000 years ago to exploration-colonization of tropical/subtropical regions of the world in the Middle Ages for spices and industrial raw materials, plant metabolites have been a driving force in the evolution of human civilization. The field of medical ethnobotany seeks to document the critical importance of plant-derived natural products in sustenance, livelihood and culture of communities around the world. Through this symposium, we hope to not only demonstrate the usefulness of phytochemistry in promoting consilience in plant sciences but also encourage undergraduate and graduate students at BSA to think from a phytochemical perspective.

1 - Cornell University, Plant Biology, 306 Tower Road, 260 Emerson Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, United States
2 - Cornell University, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior

none specified

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Abstract ID:13
Candidate for Awards:None

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