Summer 2018 Synopsis

Project Team Leader: Dr. Robbie Iuliucci

Dr. Iuliucci, along with Trent Haines and Hannah Kennelley, visited Dr. Yan’s laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Forestry to obtain samples of endophyte metabolites from Catharanthus roseus.

Catharanthus roseus is a flowering perennial herb grown in the Hainan Province of China. This famous plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health issues including cancer. It is a natural source of vinblastine, one of the first natural products to be used as an anti-cancer drug. Dr. Yan has identified in Catharanthus roseus four endophytic fungal strains belonging to the genus Diaporthe that produce volatile organic compounds with anti-fungal bioactivity against common tree pathogens.

On campus, we further characterized these metabolites by gas chromatography and mass spectrometer. We also explored the technique of solid phase extraction to improve our ability to obtain the metabolites for chemical analyses.

Trent and Hannah presented their research as posters at the 2018 Duquesne University Undergraduate Research Symposium.