Dr. John D'Auria
Title: Assistant Professor
Education: Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2002; Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow 2003-2005, Project Leader; Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, 2005-2013
Research Area: Biochemistry
Office: Chemistry 413-D
More Info: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/chemistry/Faculty/Dauria/
Principal Research Interests
- Biochemistry and Evolution of Tropane Alkaloid Biosynthesis
- Biochemistry of Plant Specialized Metabolism
- Plant Metabolic Engineering
Tropane alkaloids represent a major class of plant-derived secondary metabolites known to occur in the Solanaceae family but are also present in the families Convolvulaceae, Proteaceae, Rhizophoraceae and Erythroxylaceae. The core defining structure of tropane alkaloids is an 8-azabicyclo[3.2.1] octane nucleus. The diversity of tropane alkaloids is achieved by elaboration of this core through different types of modifications. The genus Erythroxylum (family Erythroxylaceae) contains approximately 230 species with ranges spread throughout the tropics including South America and Madagascar.
Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense are the most widely used species for the production of cocaine. Very little is known as to the biological and ecological roles that cocaine and other tropane alkaloids play in plants. Their anti-cholinergic properties argue strongly in favour of deterrent activity against herbivores. We have begun molecular and biochemical studies in order to elucidate the biochemical steps which lead to the production of tropane alkaloids in E. coca plants.
Biochemistry and Evolution of Tropane Alkaloid Biosynthesis