The Lane Lab

Solving the Puzzles of Nature’s Chemistry Toolkit


Living things are amazing chemists. They use enzymes as tools to synthesize an array of molecules known as natural products.  Natural products are the words of elaborate chemical languages used by organisms to communicate with one another.  These molecules are also critical in drug development; the majority of current pharmaceuticals were inspired by natural products.  The incredible molecular diversity offered by Nature also provides chemical probes for elucidating the mechanisms of biological processes, inspires organic syntheses, and offers applications in agriculture and other vital industries.  The advancement of these many fields relies upon a continuous supply of novel natural products.   

The oceans are rich in organisms distinct from those on land.  Marine microorganisms are a particularly immense resource for the expansion of bioactive molecular diversity.  These organisms assemble natural products using an elaborate “toolkit” of genes and corresponding enzymes.  This biochemical toolkit contains solutions to puzzles of how seemingly simple organisms such as bacteria produce many of the most complex molecules known to man.  This biosynthetic toolkit also holds opportunities for the discovery of novel natural products. 

The Lane research team aims to understand, apply, and expand the chemistry toolkit offered by marine organisms.  We seek solutions to fundamental scientific puzzles of how marine bacteria apply unique biosynthetic genes and enzymes to yield molecular diversity.  We also apply principles learned from Nature’s biosynthetic toolkit to guide the discovery of new molecules holding potential for the treatment of disease and to understand the ecological functions of natural products from the sea.  Our ultimate goal is to benefit society by expanding the boundaries of chemistry from Nature.  Our Publications highlight our recent findings.

     The Lane group is grateful for funding from sources that include: