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Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Ryan Nett

Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

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Plants synthesize an immense number of bioactive small molecules that help them to thrive in hostile environments. These molecules serve a multitude of functions for the plant, such as defense against pests and pathogens, nutrient acquisition, and communication with beneficial organisms.

Much of this plant chemistry is also critical for humanity, as we use plant-derived molecules for numerous purposes, including use as medicines, pesticides, fragrances, and research tools to understand our own biology.

My lab focuses on understanding the enzymes and chemical transformations that plants use to achieve their impressive diversity of bioactive small molecules.

Additionally, we seek to expand our knowledge of how plants use small molecules to influence their environment and human health through targeting specific cellular processes in other organisms.

My research lies at the intersection of biology, chemistry, engineering, and synthetic biology, and major projects in the lab will focus in the following areas:

1) biochemical and evolutionary characterization of neofunctionalized metabolic enzymes

2) discovery and engineering of complete biosynthetic pathways for medicinal compounds

3) untargeted approaches for identifying critical metabolite-protein interactions


Selected Publications

Nett, R.S. and E.S. Sattely. (2021). “Total biosynthesis of the tubulin-binding alkaloid colchicine.” JACS. 143 (46), 19454-19465. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c08659

Nett, R.S., Dho, Y, Low, Y-Y., and E.S. Sattely (2021). “A metabolic regulon reveals early and late acting enzymes in neuroactive Lycopodium alkaloid biosynthesis.” PNAS. 118 (24), e2102949118. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2102949118

 Nett, R.S.*, Lau, W.*, and E.S. Sattely. (2020) “Discovery and engineering of colchicine alkaloid biosynthesis.” Nature. 584, 148-153. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2546-8

Nett, R.S., Bender, K., and R.J. Peters. (2022). “Production of the plant hormone gibberellin by rhizobia increase host legume nodule size.” The ISME Journal. 16, 1809-1817. DOI: 10.1038/s41396-022-01236-5

Nett, R.S., Montanares, M., Marcassa, A., Lu, X., Nagel, R., Charles, T.C., Hedden, P., Rojas, M.C., and R.J. Peters. (2017) “Elucidation of gibberellin biosynthesis in bacteria reveals convergent evolution.” Nature Chemical Biology. 13, 69-74. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2232