Jannell Bazurto

Assistant Professor

Research Summary

Our lab seeks to define mechanisms by which organisms survive, and  even thrive on, toxic metabolites with a current focus on formaldehyde  in the beneficial plant bacterium, Methylobacterium extorquens. Our  research necessarily uses genetic, molecular biology, biochemistry and omics methodologies to define mechanistic processes and answer  biological questions at the molecular and organismal level.

During  methylotrophic growth, organisms can use one-carbon compounds, such as  methanol, as a sole source of carbon and energy. The first step in  methanol utilization is conversion to free formaldehyde, a potent toxin  that can inflict damage on cellular proteins and nucleic acids by  adduction and cross-linking. Therefore, M. extorquens must deal with an  apparent paradox during growth on methanol: 100% of carbon flows through  formaldehyde as an intermediate, but uncontrolled production leads to  cellular damage and death. Studying M. extorquens, a genetically  tractable methylotroph, has the potential to reveal new metabolic  paradigms that span stress response systems and novel mechanisms of cell  regulation.