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Dr. Nicole Lopanik


The research interests of the Lopanik lab encompass many aspects of the biosynthesis of ecologically and biomedically important natural products by marine organisms, including the mechanisms of biosynthesis, and factors that can influence the production of the compounds. My ultimate goal is to understand how environmental pressures affect the evolution of natural product biosynthesis genes and the organisms that produce them at the molecular, biochemical, organismal, and ecological levels. The natural products that are currently the focus of my research are the bryostatins, a group of compounds with anticancer and neurological activity that is produced by the uncultured microbial endosymbiont “Candidatus Endobugula sertula,” of the temperate marine bryozoan, Bugula neritina. I am interested in investigating the mechanisms behind variation in bryostatin composition in different populations of B. neritina/“Cand. Endobugula sertula.” Furthermore, I would like to determine if there is signaling between the host and the symbiont that results in the patterns of bryostatin concentrations that we see within B. neritina colonies. In addition, I am interested in investigating other marine invertebrate/microbial symbiont systems that result in the production of bioactive natural products.

Biologically active molecules are a diverse and metabolically interesting group of molecules. Many of the common naturally occurring biologically active molecules are hydrophobic. Hydrophobic compounds are a diverse and metabolically interesting group of molecules. In addition to common fatty acids and phospholipids, this class includes a variety of intensely active molecules such as the prostaglandins, interleukins and hormones both steroid and non-steroid. Many bioactive plant products such as the alkal oids also have hydrophobic properties. The metabolic fate and effect of hydrophobic molecules (such as lipids, aromatic hydrocarbons and bioactive molecules) are of general interest for a number of reasons. Transport of potentially toxic molecules may also be altered by membrane changes. This information will give us baseline toxicity data which will contribute to the understanding of structure-function relationships in these molecules and provide the background required for further evaluation of biotransformation.

Lab Members

Michelle Ventura, PhD Candidate,
Jonathan Linneman, PhD Candidate,
Meril Mathew, MS Candidate,

Representative Publications

Contact Information

Office: 416 Science Annex
Office Phone: 404.413.5430
Laboratory: 342 Natural Science Center
Lab Phone: 404.413.5428