Dr. Yandeau-Nelson’s research combines classical and molecular genetic, biochemical, and metabolomic approaches to dissect the genetic networks that underlie metabolic processes, and to understand how natural genetic variation in or manipulation of these networks impact how organisms respond to the environment. Currently, the Yandeau-Nelson group focuses on the processes associated with fatty acids and derivative pathways in both plant and microbial systems, including:
- Using the reproductive silks of corn as the model system to dissect the genetic and metabolic networks responsible for the synthesis of plant cuticle lipids, which accumulate on plant surfaces and are thought to provide the first line of protection between the plant and the external environment.
- Addressing how the fatty acid synthesis pathway can be harnessed in microbes to produce precursors for the emerging biorenewable chemicals industry.
Each of these research directions uses genetic approaches to understand and manipulate metabolic pathways to increase both the fundamental knowledge of metabolism and to use that knowledge for practical applications (e.g. plant breeding for resistance to stresses and the development of biorenewable chemicals and fuels).