Welcome to the 2015 Northeast Regional American Society of Plant Biologists Conference!

Plants produce secondary metabolites as a chemical arsenal for defense, for adapting to environmental stresses, and for attracting pollinators and animals for seed dispersal. These secondary metabolites are not only useful for the plant but for us, as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, flavors, pigments, and fragrances. Over 200,000 unique compounds have been isolated and characterized from these amazing chemists – and certain compounds are found only in certain species.

  • How did plant secondary metabolic pathways evolve and diversify to create so many unique biologically active structures?
  • How is the production of these plant secondary metabolites regulated?
  • What strategies can be used to engineer increased production of these plant secondary metabolites?

The theme of this year’s NEASPB Symposium is Advances in Understanding Plant Secondary Metabolism. Insights to the above questions will enable us to further harness the talents of these plants. These year’s keynote speakers will explore such questions by illustrating examples from several natural product classes and plant systems.

  • Prof. Jing-Ke Weng, Member of the Whitehead Institute and Assistant Professor of Biology, MIT: “Our lab has broad interests in understanding the origin and evolution of plant specialized metabolism at enzyme, pathway, and systems levels, as well as how plants exploit discrete small molecules to interact with their surrounding biotic and abiotic environments.” biology.mit.edu/people/jing_ke_weng
  • Prof. Susan C. Roberts, Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst: “Our research is directed towards understanding how cellular metabolism can be effectively controlled at both the genetic and cell level. We are developing novel methods (both experimental and theoretical) for studying poorly characterized (both genetic and metabolic) cell systems (e.g., Taxus for Taxol®, paclitaxel, production).” che.umass.edu/faculty/susan-roberts
  • Prof. Joe Chappell, Professor of Pharmacy, University of Kentucky: “My laboratory is dedicated to understanding the mechanisms that plants use to make the dizzying array of terpene/isoprenoid compounds. For many years, and like many laboratories, we focused our attention on how plants regulate the biosynthesis of antimicrobial terpene-based phytoalexins. Our interests have expanded from there. Our work utilizes a wide range of experimental strategies including genetic engineering, structure-function comparisons of genes and proteins, and cross-comparisons between many different plants and other organisms.” www.uky.edu/Ag/Agronomy/Chappell/welcome.htm
  • Prof. Daniel Kliebenstein, Professor of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis: “The laboratory studies two major questions using biochemical genomics. The first question is largely related to an organism’s biochemistry and focuses on how and why plants make secondary metabolites… The second major question is how and why organisms have genetic variation.” www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/kliebenstein/

Please join us for this exciting symposium and for the opportunity to connect and share your research with other researchers in the Northeast region!

Best wishes,
Carolyn Lee-Parsons
Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering and Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Northeastern University