Ericka Kay - co-advised PhD student
Ericka is interested in phytochemically mediated interactions between industrial hemp and its herbivore community with a focus on the synergistic effects of complex mixtures of plant defense.
Kaitlin Ochsenrider - Visiting Postdoc (Boise State)
Secondary metabolites are important mediators of a variety of biotic and abiotic interactions between plants and their surrounding environment. Many fully or partially characterized plants produce phytochemical mixtures that serve to protect the plant, including toxicity to herbivores. Despite the observed toxicity of secondary metabolites, some herbivores successfully specialize on toxic diets. Traditional methods for discovering/evaluating biologically active secondary metabolites in the context of organismal interactions have been targeted towards a specific set of compounds or compound classes. For partially characterized or uncharacterized plants, we use non-targeted metabolomic approaches, which are more desirable as they offer a more global evaluation of an organism’s metabolome, accounting for minor components and synergistic interactions. We have been working to adapt current network approaches developed for large genomic datasets to suit a variety of metabolomic datasets to separate significant trends from noise.