Researchers in UNT's BioDiscovery Institute secured a $1.4 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to explore the potential to cultivate fungal-derived pharmaceuticals like penicillin in plant hosts for more accessible and environmentally sustainable medicine. This first-of-its-kind study will establish a new concept for producing valuable fungal products and may lead to medicines that can be delivered in plant seeds.
"What we're thinking long-term is that if plants can store medicines in seeds, you eat the seeds, and the medicine is already contained. You don't have all these factories, and you don't need any chemicals," says Elizabeth Skellam, assistant professor of chemistry. Skellam is leading the research team that includes Kent Chapman, director of the UNT BioDiscovery Institute; Ana Paula Alonso, associate professor of biological sciences; and economics professor Michael Carroll.