Plants have been used as medicines for more than a thousand years, e.g. in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. The most well-known modern plant-based medicines include taxol (paclitaxel), vinca alkaloids (vinblastine, vincristine), aspirin, artemisinin and morphine. The plant kingdom contains an amazing assortment (>200.000) of metabolites, which shows that plants are still a largely untapped source of high-value secondary metabolites.
One of the major hurdles in the plant bioprospecting process is that the metabolites responsible for the activities of interest and their biosynthetic pathways are largely unknown. We use genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, activity profiling and state-of-the-art ensemble machine learning approaches to elucidate the biosynthetic gene modules for the metabolites of interest. Our focus is on the flora of Singapore with the aim to elucidate the biosynthetic pathways of candidate anti-bacterial and anti-cancer metabolites.