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Sanjay Saikia

Doctor of Philosophy, (Biochemistry)
Study Completed: 2006
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Functional analysis of Penicillum paxilli genes required for biosynthesis of paxilline

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Dr Saikia studied the biosynthesis of paxilline, a fungal metabolite that belongs to a family of compounds called indole-diterpenes. This group of compounds is best known for their neurotoxic effects on mammals, causing syndromes such as ryegrass staggers in sheep and cattle. Because these compounds modulate ion channels in the brain and smooth muscle tissue, there is considerable interest in their pharmacological potential. Dr Saikia’s research focused on identifying the enzyme steps required for the synthesis of paxilline. For the first time, this research has validated the steps involved in indole-diterpene biosynthesis, which were speculative until now. The thesis also provides a genetic foundation for explaining the indole-diterpene chemical diversity observed among filamentous fungi.

Professor Barry Scott
Associate Professor Emily Parker

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