Work in the Floss laboratory revolved around the application of principles, concepts, and techniques of organic chemistry to solve biochemical and biological problems. The major theme investigated was the biosynthesis of antibiotics and related natural products.
These studies used a combination of genetic, chemical and biochemical approaches to elucidate the biosynthetic pathways, characterized the genetic and biochemical machinery controlling them, and used this knowledge to engineer the production of new, potentially bioactive compounds. The genetic approaches involved the cloning, sequencing, mutational analysis and heterologous expression of antibiotic biosynthesis gene clusters. In parallel, chemical and biochemical approaches involved feeding experiments with isotopically labeled precursors and intermediates, isolation and structure elucidation of new compounds accumulated by specifically constructed mutants, and the characterization and mechanistic analysis of important biosynthetic pathway enzymes. Elucidation of the biosynthetic pathway was followed by genetic reengineering of the encoding biosynthetic gene cluster to alter its catalytic specificity, resulting in new endproducts with modified structures.
Awards & Activities
- Elected Honorary Member of the Kitasato Institute, Tokyo
- Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Bonn
- White Magnolia Commemoration Award and Medal, City of Shanghai
- Research Achievement Award, American Scociety of Pharmacognosy
- Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Purdue University