Plant Metabolic Biochemistry My research program is aimed at understanding the biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and physiology of benzylisoquinoline alkaloid metabolism in opium poppy and related plants. Opium poppy remains the only commercial source for the narcotic analgesics morphine, codeine and several semi-synthetic alkaloid pharmaceuticals. The present availability of a multitude of cloned benzylisoquinoline alkaloid biosynthetic genes, including those encoding the entire known pathway leading to morphine, has created unprecedented metabolic engineering opportunities in plants and microorganisms. We are also exploring similar interests in the biosynthesis of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in Ephedra spp.
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