2023 C. Richard Hutchinson Lecture
- Julia Kubanek, PhD
- Georgia Institute of Technology
Hosted by Jason Kwan
Metabolomics Analysis Reveals Cellular Pathway to Neurotoxin Induction in a Harmful Algal Bloom
Single-celled algae that form harmful blooms are known to produce unusual neurotoxins, many of which present risks to human health. Some of these toxins protect the algae from predators but in many cases the functions of these natural products are unknown. Zooplankton copepods that normally feast on dinoflagellate algae of the genus Alexandrium avoid the most toxic cells, and when Alexandrium cells sense waterborne excretion products of copepods they up-regulate their toxins by up to 20-fold. We used LC-MS and NMR metabolomics to uncover the cellular pathway by which copepod cues induce algal toxicity, revealing previously unknown controls on biosynthesis of the saxitoxin class f neurotoxins.
About the Speaker
Julia Kubanek is Professor of Biological Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, where she also serves as Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research. She received her BSc in Chemistry from Queen’s University, Canada and her PhD in at the University of British Columbia. She joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2001 where she has developed research interests in chemical signaling among organisms, natural products chemistry, metabolomics, chemical biology, and drug discovery. She was awarded the NSF CAREER Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Silverstein-Simeone Award of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.