W. THOMAS SHIER
Department of Medicine
Antibiotics, Mycotoxins, Genome Mining, Extremophiles
The major focus of research of Dr. Shier’s laboratory is on developing new antibiotic drug discovery and production platforms. The research is focused on the following three approaches:
(1) Fungi that infect plants from the soil enter roots by releasing mycotoxins that target dividing cells in meristematic tissue. These mycotoxins are being investigated as a potential source of anticancer antibiotics.
(2) Genome mining as an approach to producing relatively large amounts of potential drugs from coral reef organisms and other sources by transferring biosynthesis gene packages to a Streptomyces species that grows well in culture and produces antibiotic well under industrial fermentation conditions.
(3) A strategy for finding novel antibiotics in screening programs has been to examine extremophiles of various types. We are exploring toxic waste dumps as a novel application of this strategy.