Craig Schenck

Craig Schenck


Assistant Professor

Division of Biochemistry

Research at a glance

Area(s) of Expertise

Research Summary

Evolution of plant chemical diversity, plant natural product pathway discovery, connections between core and specialized metabolism.

To deal with relentless environmental pressures, plants produce an arsenal of structurally diverse defensive chemicals. These sometimes-complex compounds are derived from much simpler building blocks from primary metabolic pathways. Unlike well-documented diversification of plant specialized metabolic enzymes, core metabolic pathways are highly conserved and evolutionarily constrained because they serve essential metabolic functions, which makes manipulation of these pathways difficult.

The expansion and alteration of core metabolism has given rise to the evolution of structurally diverse plant specialized metabolites. However, the underlying mechanisms enabling metabolic diversity and the connections linking core to specialized metabolism are not well known. These knowledge gaps create bottlenecks in synthetic biology platforms for production of high-value plant metabolites and increasing plant resilience.

Our goal is to identify biochemical pathways of novel plant metabolites and core metabolic innovations that have potentiated chemical diversity. Then, harness these innovations for increased crop resilience using gene editing approaches and enhanced production of medicinal plant compounds through synthetic biology platforms.

Educational background

  • Ph.D., Botany, University of Wisconsin
  • M.S., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Ohio University
  • B.S., Plant Biology, Ohio University