Dr. Wurtele’s research, juxtaposed at the interface between biology and computational sciences, centers on the interplay between the metabolic and regulatory signals: the metabolic network of plants. The Wurtele group is using an integrated experimental/biocomputational approach to understand the factors that regulate plant development and composition. This research is revealing a complex network that incorporates genes of previously unknown function that mediates the accumulation of proteins, starches and oils in plant leaves and seeds. Further, it has enhanced our understanding of the mechanisms of synthesis of unusual medicinal compounds. A practical consequence is that it provides new approaches to engineer plants, a biorenewable energy source, and microorganisms to accumulate large quantities of industrially-useful chemicals, and improve our food supply.
Dr. Wurtele and colleagues have developed the award-winning videogame, Meta!Blast. Meta!Blast takes the player into an metabolic adventure within a 3D photosynthetic cell.