Research


Overview
The focus of our groups activities is the analysis and manipulation of metabolic pathways. With an increased understanding of the regulation of metabolism, scientists and engineers can rationally manipulate pathways to produce novel compounds or increase the production of specialty compounds. Quantifying metabolic flux is a critical technology that forms the basis for rational metabolic engineering. Our group has been developing the mathematical modeling and experimental tools for the particularly difficult problem of quantifying fluxes in photoautotrophic organisms. The current focus is on quantifying intracellular metabolite fluxes in cyanobacteria, algae and plants by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and gas chromatography-MS (GC/MS). We have also constructed a genome scale metabolic model of the algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and performed flux balance analysis on the network, which we are comparing against experimentally determined metabolic fluxes derived from transient isotopic labeled metabolite data. We have closely related projects on metabolic flux analysis in mammalian cells (CHO cells), and kinetic modeling and metabolic control analysis of aromatic amino acid and secondary metabolism in plants.
Ongoing Projects

Modeling and Manipulating Phenylpropanoid Pathway Flux for Bioenergy (co-PI, DOE-BER Award DE-SC0008628, Aug. 2012-Sept. 2017)

Working with Prof. Clint Chapple (PI) and Prof. Natalia Dudareva (co-PI) of the Biochemistry Department, the Morgan group is employing metabolic engineering to reroute carbon that plants currently use to make lignin - a barrier to cellulosic ethanol production - and turn it into phenylethanol - a biofuel. Specifically, the Morgan group will analyze the results of mutations to the Arabidopsis thaliana lignin biosynthesis pathway and develop mathematical models to determine the most efficient methods for rerouting phenylalanine to make 2-phenylethanol. A more detailed description of current efforts is listed under the group tab.


My research group activities can be broadly classified into the following Completed Projects

Metabolomics

Engineering
Biosynthetic
Pathways
  Modeling
A Genetically Tractable Microalgal Platform for Advanced Biofuel Production (co-PI, DOE ARPA-E award, DE-AR0000010, Aug. 2009-Sept. 2011)
Deciphering the complex metabolic network in snapdragon flowers: an integrative approach. (co-PI, National Science Foundation 2006-2010)

Metabolic flux analysis of photoautotrophic organisms (PI, National Science Foundation CAREER program, March 2004-Feb. 2008)
Tools for Differential Metabolomics. (co-PI, NIH R21 Oct. 2004-2007)